Archbishop Onaiyekan Sparks Peace Call for Nigerian Development

Folalumi Alaran in Abuja

The Emeritus Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, His Eminence John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, stirred a call for peace among Nigerians to propel the nation’s development agenda during a groundbreaking ceremony in Abuja.

The ceremony marked the commencement of the renovation and construction of the Dominic Cardinal Ekandem Villa.

Onaiyekan passionately outlined the visionary goals of the project, emphasizing its potential to positively impact Nigerians through education, social empowerment, and overall socioeconomic development. Originally conceived as a private residence, the Dominic Cardinal Ekandem Villa has undergone a significant transformation into the Gaudium Et SPES Institute—a retreat and renewal center for priests, religious, and lay faithful.

Derived from the principles of the Second Vatican Council Document, Gaudium Et SPES, the Institute aims to foster an African-level dialogue between the Church and the modern world, envisioning the Church as a visible, relevant, and influential force in contemporary society.

Onaiyekan shared the Institute’s rich history, highlighting its pivotal role in rehabilitating individuals facing diverse psychological and spiritual challenges, irrespective of their religious affiliations. The Institute’s services extend beyond religious boundaries, embracing Christians, Muslims, traditional religionists, atheists, and the broader society.

Acknowledging the overwhelming demand for the Institute’s services, Onaiyekan emphasized the urgent need to remodel and expand the Dominic Cardinal Ekandem Villa. He stated, “The proposed facility, with 50 rooms, three conference spaces, standard counseling rooms, a private chapel, and essential amenities, is designed to meet the community’s diverse needs.”

Onaiyekan earnestly appealed for support for the project, which faces financial constraints estimating a requirement of approximately N1.2 billion Naira. He expressed gratitude for any form of assistance, whether in cash, materials, equipment, or goodwill, and added, “Throughout the construction period, the Institute remains steadfast in its mission, continuing Masses while temporarily relocating its priests to a property generously provided by a community member.”

Former Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, reiterated the purpose of the remodeling and expressed hope in the generosity of supporters for financial, material, and moral assistance.

The Institute’s journey towards a more expansive and impactful service to society was marked by the presence and support of Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama and other esteemed guests. Onaiyekan’s call for unity resonates not just as a plea for support but as a rallying cry for transformative change and shared progress.

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