New Ivorian Bishop Asked to Prioritize Zeal, Responsibility in His Episcopate

Bishop Jacques Assanvo Ahiwa, Auxiliary Bishop of Ivory Coast's Bouaké Archdiocese.

The representative of the Holy Father in Ivory Coast has, on the occasion of the Episcopal Ordination of the Auxiliary Bishop of the country’s Bouaké Archdiocese, called on the new Bishop to practice his Episcopate “with zeal and responsibility.”

“The Bishop is entrusted with a ministry, the episcopal ministry. The episcopal ministry is a service to God's people. The episcopate is not an honor for him but a task to be carried out with zeal and responsibility,” Archbishop Paolo Borgia said, addressing Bishop-elect Jacques Assanvo Ahiwa during the Saturday, October 3 event.

Archbishop Borgia added, “The Bishop is put at the helm of the people of God, but his own mission is service. He must serve rather than dominate.” 

“The episcopate is not obtained through a call for candidatures. Everything is a gift, everything is given freely,” the Nuncio also said during the ordination Mass at the Saint Therese of the Child Jesus cathedral Bouaké, in central Ivory Coast.


He further said, “It is not we who seek the episcopate. We are not chosen to the episcopate because of our position, our abilities and our merits. It is the Lord who calls us through the Church and gives us to the Church.”

The Italian-born Diplomat told the new Bishop to “always remember that the episcopate is a call that we always receive with a humble and grateful spirit, asking for God's help, assistance, wisdom, and prudence to accomplish all that is entrusted to us.”

He encouraged the Bishop-elect to rely on God’s grace amid challenges in his episcopal ministry saying, “You will experience joys and satisfactions, difficulties and misunderstandings, but always put everything in God's hands who has chosen you, in a spirit of total abandonment and trust.”

“In every situation, you find yourself in, never forget where you come from and for whom you became a Bishop; that is the people of God,” the Apostolic Nuncio told the candidate he was about to ordain a Bishop.

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Archbishop Borgia continued, “The task of the Bishop is to be in the midst of his people; to know them, to gather them and guide them, to care for them, to defend them and to love them with a fatherly heart.”

The 54-year-old Prelate who was the Principal Consecrator during the ordination reminded the new Bishop that he was chosen “for men (and women) and for the things that concern God” and explained, “These things that concern God are mainly the proclamation of the Gospel and the sanctification of the People of God through prayer and the sacraments of faith.”

Msgr. Ahiwa who was ordained a Priest in December 1997 was appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bouaké on May 5.


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.