, 02 June, 2020 / 4:40 AM
Over the weekend, Pope Francis elevated the dioceses of Pointe-Noire and Owando in Congo-Brazzaville to Archdioceses, appointing Bishop Miguel Ángel Olaverri Arroniz and Bishop Victor Abagna Mossa as their first Metropolitan Archbishops respectively.
In the Saturday, May 30 decisions involving the Church in Africa published by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father also appointed Fr. Michael Kalu Ukpong as the Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese.
The newly created Metropolitan Archdiocese of Pointe-Noire together with the dioceses of Dolisie and Nkayi will make up the Ecclesiastical Province of the South-West, the Vatican reported.
The Metropolitan Archbishop-elect, Miguel Ángel who is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) has been the Local Ordinary of Pointe-Noire since April 2013. The 72-year-old Prelate, a native of Spain, had served as the Apostolic Administrator of the same See since March 2011.
Established in October 1890 as Apostolic Vicariate of Lower French Congo from the Apostolic Vicariate of French Congo, Pointe-Noire, which measures 14,644 square kilometres was erected a diocese in September 1955.
According to the Holy See Press Office, Pointe-Noire has 35 parishes served by 59 diocesan Priests and 29 religious Priests. There are 29 religious men and 59 religious women as well as 53 seminarians in the new Metropolitan See, with 958,900 Catholics our of a total population of 1,622,400 people.
Previously under the Ecclesiastical Province of Brazzaville, the newly created Metropolitan Archdiocese of Owanda together with the dioceses of Impfondo and Ouesso will make up the Ecclesiastical Province of the North.
The new Metropolitan Archbishop, Victor Abagna Mossa who will turn 74 on June 18 was ordained a Bishop in March 2011.
The native of Congo-Brazzaville’s Makoua town, North of Owando, the Archbishop-elect was appointed the Local Ordinary of Owando in February 2011 and installed in April 2011.
The new Metropolitan See was established as Apostolic Vicariate of Fort-Rousset in 1950. It was elevated as the diocese of Fort-Rousset in 1955 and renamed diocese of Owanda in 1977.
According to the Holy See Press office, the new Archdiocese, which measures 75,450 square kilometres has 22 parishes served by 64 Priests, five of whom are members of Religious Orders; there are 24 men religious, 30 women religious, and 21 seminarians. With a population of 464,200, the new Metropolitan See has 338,000 Catholics.
Pope Francis also appointed Fr. Michael Kalu Ukpong as Auxiliary Bishop Umuahia Diocese, which is located in Southeastern Nigeria.
Until his appointment, Fr. Michael has been serving as Chancellor of the same Diocese and Parish Priest of Saint Theresa’s parish.
A priest of Umuahia Diocese, the 56-year-old Bishop-elect was ordained a priest in August 1993.
He studied Canon Law at the Klaus-Mörsdorf-Institut für Kanonistik at the Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität in Munich (2006-2007) and then theology at the University of Regensburg, where he earned his doctorate at the end of his 2008-2014 period at the institution.
The Bishop-elect will carry out his Pastoral ministry under Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, the 68-year-old Nigerian Prelate who has been the Local Ordinary of Umuahia Diocese since July 1990. Till February 2018, Bishop Lucius doubled as the Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa