Obinna Odogwu, Awka
From all walks of life, people converged on Awka, the capital of Anambra State, recently to join the archbishop emeritus of the Anglican Diocese of Awka, Dr. Maxwell Anikwenwa, and his wife, Blessing, on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.
The event kicked off with a Eucharistic service at the Church of the Pentecost. More than 40 clerics were in attendance.
Among them were the archbishop of Enugu Province and bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Revd.Emmanuel Chukwuma; bishop of Ihiala Diocese, Rt. Revd (Prof.) Israel Okoye; bishop of Awka Diocese, Rt. Revd. (Dr.) Alex Ibezim; and archbishop emeritus of Aguata Diocese, Most Revd. Christian Efobi, among others.
Also in attendance at the church service was the former governor of the state and vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election, Mr. Peter Obi.
Governor Willie Obiano was represented by a member of the board of trustees of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Elder Olusole Oyidiji. Also present were former governor of the state, Dame Virgy Etiaba, Senator Uche Ekwunife, Justice Kalajine Anigbogu, vice chancellor of Paul University, Ven. Prof. Uche Isiugo-Abanihe, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Chinyere Okunna, and others.
In his sermon, bishop of Enugu Diocese, Most Revd. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said the celebrant’s family has stood out as one worthy of emulation. Speaking on the ideal home, the cleric said the husband, wife, and children have their roles spelt out.
“Whether good or bad, a wife should stick to her husband. It is the woman that owns the home,” he said.
He praised Anikwenwa and his wife, saying they served well in the Lord’s vineyard.
“His time as the bishop of the Diocese of Awka brought tremendous changes to this diocese. He did very well and made sure that Awka Diocese prospered under his watch. Paul University was a vision initiated by Archbishop Anikwenwa, among many others,” he said.
Obi, in his speech, recalled his relationship with the couple while he was governor of the state: “While I served here for eight years, Archbishop Anikwenwa was one of those pillars that were supportive of government doing the right thing. So, it is a family I have been close to and always cherished.
“Their 50 years of marriage is fantastic and it is for us to learn. It shows an exemplary life we can all emulate.”
Ekwunife, thanking God for His blessings on the family, said she was particularly attached to the archbishop’s family because the prelate baptised her as an infant.
Ekwunife said: “I am happy to know that this beautiful marriage has clocked 50 years. I have been part of the family. Actually, he was the one that baptised me when I was born.
“It is not easy for a marriage to attain 50 years. And it is not just that they are 50 years in marriage but 50 years of God’s grace in their family, looking at their children and what they have achieved and the souls they have converted for Christ,” she said.
The prelate’s wife, Mrs. Blessing Anikwenwa, while thanking God for His blessings on her family, described her husband as God’s gift to her. She declared that the secret behind their successful marriage was simply God’s grace.
“I feel elated and fulfilled. I think marriage is a miracle. It is new every morning. Every day, it is being renewed and you don’t even know how it happens. There is no one formula for a successful marriage.
“But I am encouraged by the first miracle Jesus Christ performed in Galilee, where it was in a marriage and the mother was able to say ‘whatever He tells you to do, do it.
“So, for a marriage to be sustained, the woman must play her part very well by the grace of God; with prayers, forgiveness, endurance, patience, and others”, she said.
Anikwenwa, in his speech, advised couples to always build the wall of trust, patience, and forgiveness around their marriage. He explained that those virtues were part of the essential ingredients for a successful marriage.
“Couples should try to understand each other. No man or woman is perfect. Forgiveness is very important for a marriage to be successful,” he said.
He thanked everyone who attended the event for sharing in their joy even as he prayed that God would bless them all.
After the service, a reception was held for guests at the Hollywood Events Centre, along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. Chairman on the occasion, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, poured encomiums on the prelate and his wife, saying their lifestyle was worthy of emulation.
Ekpeh, who is the traditional ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu kingdom, said the couple’s years of service in God’s vineyard were remarkable. He prayed to God to grant the cleric and his wife many more years.