, 18 November, 2020 / 10:15 PM
After close to three decades of construction, plans are underway for the dedication of St. Theresa Cathedral of Nigeria’s Nsukka Diocese.
The dedication event scheduled for Thursday, November 19 is expected to be presided over by the Diocese’s Bishop Godfrey Onah and attended by Catholic Bishops, Clergy, members of the Laity, including Governors in the country's Southeastern region, politicians and people of other faiths.
The leadership of the Diocese has put measures in place to ensure that those attending the event comply with the laid down COVID-19 protocols, the Vicar General of the Diocese, Fr. Amuluche Nnamani told journalists during the Tuesday, November 17 press conference at the Cathedral.
After dedication, the Cathedral, which is “well equipped with other components for non-liturgical use” will “represent the image of Nsukka," Fr. Amuluche who is also the chaplain of University of Nigeria’s Saint Peter’s Catholic chaplaincy further said.
According to the Cleric, the construction of the Cathedral was started in 1991 by the Diocese’s first Bishop, Francis Okobo, soon after his appointment and completed in 2020 by his successor and current Local Ordinary, Bishop Godfrey Onah.
“We had the challenge of financing the huge project, so, then Bishop Okobo, designed a way of making the faithful contribute to the project,” the Vicar General said, recalling the construction of the 5,500-capacity Cathedral that started 29 years through “gradual but continuous efforts by the Catholic community.”
He continued referencing Bishop Okobo, “He assigned one Sunday in a year which he called the Diocesan Project Support Sunday. Every kobo (coin) realized from it was channeled towards the building of the cathedral.”
Besides the annual Sunday collections, Bishop Okobo organized a fund-raising program, which took place every Easter, during which, “Every well-to-do Nsukka indigenes were invited. So much money was raised but it was not still enough to complete the cathedral,” Fr. Amuluche went on to recall.
“It was in that condition that the new Bishop came. He saw the task as frightening because the building is massive,” he noted in reference to Bishop Onah and continued, “The Bishop therefore diverted all funds realized during pastoral visits into the building.”
He added, “There was the cathedraticum also when the faithful came to appreciate the Bishop and make donations. The Bishop deployed all the funds realized into this project.”
According to the Nigerian Cleric, apart from the financial constraints, there were also technical challenges that were “disturbing.”
"Technically, there were some mistakes; even the roof was blown off sometime. Even the floor of the church was vibrating at some points because the cathedral has an underground compartment,” he explained.
He added, “The situation was disturbing to the new Bishop and he stopped every work on the building until he assembled a team of experts who reviewed the cathedral architecture and made some adjustments.”
The challenges notwithstanding, the Vicar General thanked the people of God of Nsukka Diocese, good spirited individuals and organizations “for their massive financial and moral support.”
Started in 1932 as the Catholic Parish of Nsukka within Enugu Diocese, it was elevated to the rank of a Diocese on 19 November 1990.
The Diocese, which is under the Ecclesiastical Province of Onitsha, has an estimated 533,100 Catholics spread across 197 parishes that cover 3,180 square kilometers, according to 2018 statistics.
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