Ahiara Mbaise, Tuesday, December 19, 2023. The Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Simeon Okezuo Nwobi, CMF has brought new breath and life to the Church in Ahiara. It was indeed a history making event. For it was the first time in history that the land of Ahiara witnessed an Episcopal Ordination. The ordination took place on Tuesday, 19th December, 2023.

The Mass started with the procession at 9:30am. It had 2 Cardinals, 4 Archbishops, over 30 Bishops and about 402 priests in attendance. Many Men and Women of the Consecrated Life were present in their colourful Religious habits. The Principal Consecrator and Chief Celebrant was the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and Archbishop of Owerri, Most Revd. Dr Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji with Bishop Wilfred Anagbe, CMF of Makurdi Diocese and Bishop Augustine Ukwuoma of Orlu Diocese as co-Consecrators.

In his homily during the Mass, Most Revd. Augustine Ndubueze Echema of Aba Diocese welcomed all Priests, Bishops, Consecrated Persons and all present and recounted that Ahiara has stayed for 13years without a Bishop. He declared that the Christian message is good news in every situation. And to Ahiara people, everything thing ends with the good news of a new Bishop, whose mission is to secure liberty to thousands of God’s people placed under his pastoral care, to join other bishops to become the voice of the voiceless, and as a good shepherd, give constant attention to the socio-political situation of our country. He enjoined him not to sit on the fence. He reminded the Priest of Ahiara diocese that they now have a Bishop and therefore, unconditional obedience, total loyalty and respect must be accorded to his office. He added that the diocese is in safe hands.

After the homily, the Rites of Episcopal Ordination commenced where Msgr Nwobi, CMF became Bishop Nwobi, CMF.

The Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), after the Post Communion Prayer, acknowledged everyone and invited the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) who welcomed the newly ordained Bishop into the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and gave some words of appreciation. Archbishop Ugorji confirmed that history has been made in the diocese of Ahiara as the ordination of Bishop Nwobi, CMF happens to be the very first Episcopal Ordination held in Ahiara soil. The Late Bishop Victor Chikwe, the pioneer Bishop of Ahiara diocese was ordained in Rome. He thanked Pope Francis for his paternal guardiance towards the pastoral needs of the Church in Ahiara, demonstrated by giving them an Auxiliary Bishop. He recalled that during the turbulent times, his Holiness sent the Ghanaian-born Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson twice to Ahiara diocese on a mission of peace and also pardoned all who were responsible for the crisis.

Archbishop Ugorji thanked Luis Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the Pro-Prefect of a Section of the Dicastery for Evangelisation as well as the immediate past Apostolic Nuncio, Most Revd. Antonio Filipazzi and others for their relentless efforts in facilitating this appointment.

He also acknowledged the immense fraternal concern of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria towards the welfare of the Church in Ahiara Diocese. At various times, they spent long moments during Plenary Sessions on further deliberations to resolve the crisis. He admonished the Clergy and Consecrated persons of Ahiara to bury past animosities, turn their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks because now is the time to foster the spirit of mutual love, understanding, trust and cooperation. He condemned nepotism at all levels especially at the Federal level. Quoting from Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti and the words of the African Synod Fathers he said that the Church must stand up to counter this disease of the secular society and live to its true nature as a Church to show the oneness of God’s family. There is neither Jew nor gentile. If within our ecclesial communities there is any form of nepotism or discrimination, we shall be grossly failing as a Church with a mission to unite all nations and so must shun clannishness and nepotism in our Church and nation.

In conclusion, he welcomed the Anglican Bishop present and all from other ecclesial families, thanked all present and wished them journey mercies.

The Superior General of the Claretian Missionaries was represented by the General Vicar VRF Henry Omonisaye, CMF who came from Rome. The Superior sent his good wishes to the newly ordained and prayed for God’s blessings of wisdom and grace to fulfil the responsibility bequeathed upon him. He encouraged him to work together with the priests and the people in communion with the Holy Father and the diocese of Ahiara and renew their spirit of unity. So that, rooted in Christ, the diocese will reap the fruit of audacious mission radiating the joy of the gospel. He commended him to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that she will continue to accompany him and gave him the model of the Father founder of the Claretian Missionaries St. Anthony Mary Claret who was a bishop sent to the Canary Islands to work to guide him.

The Governor of Imo State, represented by his Deputy, Prof. Placid Njoku, addressed the people. He acknowledged all present and thanked the Pope for his patience. He thanked the CBCN for their guidance and prayers for Ahiara people. He thanked the people of Ahiara who were resilient and patient and at the end God has resolved the problem. He applauded Ahiara faithful for their steadfastness to the Church.

In his own words of appreciation, the newest Bishop around, Most Revd. Simeon Nwobi, CMF thanked the Holy Father for his extraordinary love of the diocese and pledged his loyalty to the Pope. He thanked all present at the occasion. “There is power in prayer, in patience, in hope and in trust” he said. He acknowledged the past Governor of Imo State, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. He appreciated the Mbaise Nation, he thanked all the organisations and sodalities. A moment of silence was observed in memoriam of the late Most Rev. Victor Chikwe, the first Bishop of Ahiara diocese. He thanked the past and present Nuncios, the Major Superiors of Nigeria represented, the Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka, Most Rev. Brian Udaigwe, who was also present. He asked that they accompany him in this episcopal journey to be a good bishop, a holy bishop and a bishop after the heart of Jesus.

In conclusion, Bishop Nwobi said he is grateful to the Holy Father in sending him to the good people of Ahiara, and without any reservation, he told the Apostolic Administrator, “I am here, I am ready to serve.”

At the end of the Mass a general reception took place at the Cathedral premises with colourful displays from various groups in the diocese, expressing enormous joy and grace. Present at the occasion also were the Provincial Superior of the Claretian Missionaries, East Nigeria Province VRF Nathaniel Eke, CMF and the Major Superior of West Nigeria Independent Delegation VRF Augustine Medaiyedu, CMF. The event was highly attended by every strata of personalities in the Church and society including the Knights, Governors, Traditional Rulers from within and outside Imo State.

Mary, Mother of the Church – Pray for Us!

<<<access the homily here also>>>Bp Echema’s Homily (1)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *