“Let’s learn from our past mistakes”: Catholic Bishop in Sierra Leone on Need for Unity

Bishop Bob John Koroma, ordained Bishop on 13 May 2023. Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

The new Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Makeni in Sierra Leone has called on the people of God under his pastoral care to embrace unity, and to shun “the spirit of divisiveness”, which he said had made them wait for a Local Ordinary for many years.

In his maiden speech as Bishop during the Saturday, May 13 Episcopal ordination event, Bishop  Bob John Hassan Koroma underscored the need for unity in the Church, noting that members of the Clergy and other pastoral agents are sometimes tempted to “gratify” disunity.

“As Bishop of Makeni, I cannot emphasize more the need for unity amongst Priests and pastoral collaborators in the furtherance of God’s kingdom. Our call is a noble one, but sometimes we gratify the spirit of divisiveness by easily forgetting the precious things that bond us together,” Bishop Koroma said.  

He added, “Let our long years of waiting for a Bishop teach us of the need to be united with the Universal Church and with the local church of Sierra Leone.”

The newly Consecrated Sierra Leonean Bishop was, on February 11, appointed Local Ordinary of Makeni Diocese, which became vacant in January 2012 when Bishop George Biguzzi retired at the age of 75. 


Following Bishop Biguzzi’s retirement, Pope Benedict XVI named Henry Aruna the Bishop of Makeni.

Bishop Aruna who was Consecrated Bishop in January 2013 for Makeni Diocese could not take up his Episcopal role in the Diocese because a section of the Clergy and other people in the Sierra Leonean Episcopal See could not let him.

In July 2015, he was later appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Sierra Leone’s Kenema Diocese and assigned the Titular See of Nasbinca; Bishop Aruna was appointed Local Ordinary of Kenema Diocese in January 2019.

The Diocese of Makeni, which is hugely comprised of Temne people, reportedly refused to acknowledge the appointment of Bishop Aruna who belongs to the Mende people.

The Diocese has therefore been under the temporary leadership of Bishop Natale Paganelli as Apostolic Administrator. 

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On his Consecration, Bishop Koroma pledged to dedicate his Episcopal Ministry to working for the unity of all people irrespective of their tribes.

He said during the May 13 event, “I dedicate my ministry to praying and working assiduously for unity in the Church of Sierra Leone, in the Diocese of Makeni, and in the country as a whole. May we all feel and work as Sierra Leoneans and children of God.”

The Sierra Leonean Catholic Bishop who had been serving as Vicar General of Makeni Diocese at his appointment appealed to Sierra Leone’s president Julius Maada Bio and other leaders who attended his Episcopal Consecration to work for peace as the country edges close to national elections slated for June 24 amid what religious leaders in the West African nation have termed “early warning signs of conflict and election violence”.

“May your presence here today to witness and participate in this ordination ceremony inspire all of us to work assiduously for a more peaceful, coherent, and reconciled Sierra Leone,” he said.

Bishop Koroma continued, “As the General and Presidential Elections draw near, I wish to seize this opportunity to make a special appeal to all my compatriots, especially the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the coming elections in June be conducted in a free, fair, transparent, and decent manner, devoid of violence and intimidation.”


“The pursuit of political office should never be a matter of life and death if the honest objective is to serve. And Mother Sierra Leone is desperately waiting to be served and not maltreated,” he emphasized.

The Local Ordinary of Makeni urged those geared to win the election to be prepared to serve all Sierra Leoneans without focusing on ethnic, regional or party extractions.

Expressing his gratitude to people of other faiths at his Episcopal Consecration, Bishop Koroma said, “Your presence here today reminds us that we are part of something much greater and more expansive than ourselves and that all who seek the Truth and work lovingly for justice, peace, unity and reconciliation journey together as brothers and sisters.”

“I look forward to working with all of you in the months and years ahead to promote the dignity of the human person in this part of the world,” the newly Consecrated Catholic Bishop said.

Born in November 1971 in Kamabai, Bishop Koroma was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Makeni in April 1999.

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Since his Priestly ordination, he served in several positions including, collaborator with Vatican Radio; lecturer of sacred scripture and dean of studies at St. Paul’s Major Seminary in Freetown (2008-2014); and collaborator at St. Catherine of Siena and Little Compton and St. Madeleine in Tiverton, United States of America.

In his Episcopal Ministry, Bishop Koroma is set to oversee the Sierra Leonean Diocese that has a population of 100,000 Catholics, according to 2019 statistics

The 36,075 square-kilometer Catholic Diocese that was erected in December 1994 is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Freetown.

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.