, 31 July, 2020 / 11:28 PM
At the Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the Episcopal Ordination of the Auxiliary Bishop of Nigeria’s Umuahia Diocese Thursday, July 30, the Local Ordinary of the same Diocese advised the Bishop-elect to view his appointment as a humble service to the people of God and not as “an honor” that triggers “self-glorification.”
“I wish to admonish my brother Bishop Ukpong to always remember that the title of Bishop is not of honor, self-glorification, or self-aggrandizement, but one of humble service that benefits others,” Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji said, addressing Bishop-elect Michael Kalu Ukpong.
Bishop Ugorji further urged the new Bishop “to selflessly strive to serve others with humility rather than to lord it over them.”
“As the Auxiliary Bishop of Umuahia, he is my closest collaborator and I’m glad to receive him with brotherly love and affection,” Bishop Ugorji also said during the ordination Mass at Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia.
The 68-year-old Nigerian Prelate urged the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Diocese of Umuahia “to warmly welcome” the new Bishop and revere him as “a minister of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God, entrusted with the task of bearing witness to the truth of the gospel and with the ministry of the Spirit and of justice.”
Msgr. Ukpong who was ordained a priest in August 1993 was appointed on May 30 as the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Umuahia in Southeastern Nigeria.
Speaking shortly after his Episcopal ordination Thursday, July 30, Bishop Ukpong expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for his confidence in him.
“I am very grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis who considers me worthy to serve the mother Church in this capacity, in this turbulent period of the Church and of our world as a whole. I promise him unalloyed obedience and support and my prayer,” Bishop Ukpong said.
Addressing himself to the Local Ordinary of Umuahia Diocese, the 56-year-old Bishop said, “Your Lordship Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, let me use this opportunity also to express my sentiment to you for the admirable heights you have raised in Umuahia diocese within these 30 years of your shepherding the Church in this diocese.”
“I was privileged to be close to you at the beginning of your Episcopacy and I know how poor Umuahia diocese was then,” the new Bishop said in recollection and continued, “Today under your able leadership, our diocese is one of the happy dioceses in Nigeria. And today she has joined the few dioceses in Nigeria that have auxiliary Bishops. I consider myself privileged to serve under you as Auxiliary Bishop and I assure you of my maximum cooperation and respect.”
The Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi presided over the ordination, which was witnessed by over 20 Catholic Bishops, Government officials, as well as hundreds of priests and 50 Christians.
Various dignitaries who had a chance to speak at the occasion expressed the hope that the faith of the Christians will be deepened with the arrival of the Auxiliary Bishop.
“Bishop Ukpong is an asset to the Church, as his experience in Catholic education, Parish Ministry, Long-standing involvements in the ecumenical movements and diocesan administration, is a conviction his ordination would bring unique competence and experience in the diocese,” the representative of Nigeria’s Abia North Senatorial District, Orji Uzor Kalu said.
He added that the new Bishop's untiring and dedicated work in the vineyard of God over the years “prepared him for this special day” and that his appointment as a helper of Bishop Ugorji “was not an aberration but a well-planned move to advance the diocese spiritually.”
The Diocese of Umuahia, which covers 2,460 square kilometers is part of Nigeria’s Ecclesiastical province of Owerri. Established on June 23, 1958, it has an estimated population of 1,274,615, of which 19.5 percent are Catholic.
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
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