Nsukka – The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Prof. Godfrey Onah, on Thursday celebrated his 60th birthday with the inmates of Nsukka Prisons.
In a homily during the mass to mark the birthday in the prison, Onah said took the celebration to the prison to give the inmates a sense of belonging and let them know that God still loves them.
“Today August 18 is my 60th birthday and I choose to celebrate it in Nsukka prisons in order to give them a sense of belonging and let them know that God still loves them.
“No matter where we are and the circumstances we find ourselves, God is interested in our salvation and welfare.
“Most times, the reason we do not receive pardon for our sins from God is because we have not accepted that we have sinned against God,’’ he said.
He urged the inmates to see their stay in prisons as the will of God and ensure that they forgave anybody they believed was responsible for their being in prison.
“God may have allowed you to be here just to provide a protective custody for you. It’s the duty of the country to punish those who may have committed crime, but it is only God who has the power of prerogative of mercy of forgiving sins.
“It is my prayer that all of you will leave here better than you came, learn how to forgive those you feel were responsible for your ordeal,’’ he said.
The bishop urged the government to improve the quality of life and alleviate the present hardship in the country.
Onah added that if nothing was urgently done, the present hardship might force so many people to commit crime.
“The rate of hardship in the country is high and if nothing is done to assuage it, more prisons will be built to accommodate people who will commit crime in a bid to finding their daily bread.
“The government should ensure that prisons are reformatory so that inmates, after serving their terms, will become better citizens.
“Youths should be provided with employments to keep them busy and steer away their mind from crime.
“The government in power should find urgent measures to cushion the present hardship to avoid further hardship to the people.” he said.
In a remark, the Assistant Cathedral Administrator of St Theresa Catholic Cathedral, Rev. Fr. Malachy Eze, expressed appreciation to the bishop for choosing to celebrate his birthday with prison inmates.
“What the bishop has done today is a challenge to all of us that we should learn how to celebrate our birthdays with the poor, motherless babies and prisons inmates to give them a sense of belonging,’’ Eze said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 10 parish priests and 150 catholic faithful attended the mass.
Food items, drinks and chaplets were among items donated to the inmates. (NAN)