Cardinal in Nigeria Urges Participants in Digital Influencers Formation to be Changemakers

A screen grab of Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke during his address to the Participants of African Digital Faith Influencers Formation. Credit: PACTPAN

Peter Ebere Cardinal Okpaleke has called on members of the African Synodal Digital Youth Influencers  (ASDYFI), who are embarking on a six-month formation program to transform the digital spaces where they engage with their peers, and to be agents of change in Africa.

In his address ahead of the formation program slated to start on Thursday, February 1, the Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Ekwulobia Diocese expressed his enthusiasm to see what comes of the participants in the program that has been organized by the Pan African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network (PACTPAN).

Addressing the 104 ASDYFI members from 52 African countries selected to participate in the PACTPAN training, Cardinal Okpaleke said, “You are privileged to be the first group to benefit from a formation course in the synodal spirit, geared towards personal and communal transformation in view of our engagements in the digital space.”

Focusing on members of his Episcopal See, he said, “I already look forward to the impact of the young people from Ekwulobia Diocese in Nigeria who will be participating in this formation, both in their local communities and in the digital space.”

In his Monday, January 29 address, he added, “As digital faith influencers, you will be tasked with the promotion of Gospel values of love through respect, listening with the heart, and inclusion. These values that we are called to propagate are not easy to live by.”


The Nigerian Catholic Church leader, who resigned in 2018 following sustained opposition to his Episcopal appointment for Nigeria’s Ahiara Diocese, and was named Cardinal in May 2022 underlined the need to retrieve the core traditional African value of Ubuntu.

He said referring to Ubuntu, “This value has been eclipsed by a new narrative that affirms that some people own the community. This is why people try to join the self-acclaimed owners of the community.”

The PACTPAN course, “Africa Digital Faith Influencers Formation”, is aimed at equipping participants with skills to become faith champions among their peers living in what the facilitators of the program have described as “digital peripheries.”

Sr. Josephine Bakhita, an official at PACTPAN’s “Church of Now”, who is part of the coordinating team of the formation program, told ACI Africa that the training is also aimed at addressing moral issues and promoting hope among the youth thereby making them become more like Christ.

“We hope to make our digital faith influencers here in Africa very active on social media specifically in advocating for good morals among their fellow youths,” the Kenyan-born member of the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega (SMK), who lectures at Uzima University of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kisumu told ACI Africa on January 26.

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The advocacy for virtuous living, she added, “is in line with the message of Pope Francis who has always called the youth to make good use of the social media in advocating for Christ-like living.”

In his January 29 address, Cardinal Okpaleke lauded PACTPAN for creating a platform for young people from across the African continent to journey together.

“I thank PACTPAN in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promotion of Integral Human Development and the Dicastery for Communication for this initiative. They have worked very hard to make it possible for you, young people of Africa, to journey together with the Churches in your Dioceses in the spirit of Synodality,” he said.

The Catholic Church leader, who was among the 20 Cardinals created during the August 2022 Consistory further lauded the team of theologians for putting together a formation program that he said would enable the young digital faith influencers in Africa “to become change agents, salt to give taste to the world, and light to illuminate the world.”

According to Cardinal Okpaleke, the ASDYFI formation program is timely for Africa, a continent he said has “so much brokenness as well as so much potential for greatness.”


“This initiative could not have come at a better time for the Church and for the entire continent of Africa. Africa is at the turning point. The direction of the turn depends on the guided visions, decisions, and actions of the change agents,” Cardinal Okpaleke said.

He continued, “As young Africans, you are to be part of the change you want to see beginning from yourselves, your families, your local communities and your countries at large. There is so much brokenness as well as so much potential for greatness in Africa, so much that can lead to despair, but abundance of sources and resources for inspiration.”

The Nigerian Cardinal prayed for facilitators of the PACTPAN formation program, saying, “May your efforts blossom through the power of the Holy Spirit. May the work of your hands and your minds be fruitful for the greater glory of God, the propagation of faith, and transformation of the world.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.