Speaking shortly after his Episcopal ordination Saturday, October 3, Bishop Ahiwa expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for his confidence in him.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for having associated me with the College of Apostles by appointing me as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bouaké to collaborate in the work of evangelization of this Diocese,” the new Ivorian Bishop said.
He added during his episcopal ordination that was witnessed by over 10 Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast, Government officials, as well as hundreds of priests and thousands of Christians, “I welcome this mission in a spirit of total abandonment to the will and grace of God and of filial obedience to the Holy Father.”
Addressing himself to the Local Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Bouaké, the 51-year-old Bishop said, “I would like to express my special gratitude to Archbishop Paul Siméon Ahouanan Djro, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bouaké, for having kindly welcomed me as a collaborator for us to face together the urgent pastoral needs of this vast diocese.”
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Bishop Ahiwa further made reference to his episcopal motto “Feed my Sheep” saying, “I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength for my work. I thank him for considering me worthy and appointing me to serve him. Like the Apostle Peter, I am filled with a new spirit to feed God’s people with his word.”
Various dignitaries who had a chance to speak at the occasion expressed the hope that the arrival of the Auxiliary Bishop will help meet the pastoral needs of the Archdiocese of Bouaké.
“Dear Brother, your mission is all the more complex as your appointment comes in a difficult social, political and religious context in Ivory Coast. But do not be afraid,” the Vice President of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA), Bishop Alexis Youlo Touabli of Ivory Coast’s Diocese of Agboville told the new Bishop.
In the message delivered on behalf of the members of RECOWA, Bishop Youlo said, “We count on your relative youth to help our brother Archbishop Paul Siméon Ahouanan.”
The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bouake was erected as a Prefecture Apostolic in May 1951, before being elevated to a diocese in September 1955. Measuring 20,000 square kilometers and with a 17.6 percent Catholic population, according to 2015 statistics, the Metropolitan See was elevated to an Archdiocese by Pope St. John Paul II in December 1994.
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.