Catholic Charity Remembers Bishop Who Served Against Odds in Nigeria

Funeral Mass of Bishop of Zaria George Jonathan Dodo, Nigeria. Credit: ACN

Catholic charity and Pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, has paid tribute to the first Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Zaria in Nigeria who passed on in July after serving the wider embattled Nigeria’s Kaduna state with courage.

In a Tuesday, August 9 report, the charity foundation recalls working with Bishop George Jonathan Dodo on numerous projects to support victims of militant attacks in the Nigerian state before he passed on at the age of 66.

“ACN remembers Bishop George as a modest and courageous leader,” ACN has reported, and adds, “The international charity supported a total of 51 projects in his Diocese, and worked with Mons. Dodo since 2001 in his commitment to raise his Diocese to what it is today.”

The charity foundation has noted that many of the projects the foundation worked on, with the help of Bishop Dodo, involved building new structures, and later evolved to providing security and protection, due to the increasing threats, and to rebuild Church structures after violent outbreaks.

The projects reveal “the difficulties and struggles of Christians in the diocese of Zaria,” the Pontifical foundation says in reference to the Nigerian Diocese that is situated between the Dioceses of Sokoto and Kaduna, in the North of Nigeria.


According to ACN, which reaches out to the people of God in regions experiencing religious persecution, Christians are in a minority in northern Nigeria and have suffered terrible violence at the hands of Boko Haram and other extremists for many years.

It is in this situation of hardship, ACN reports, that Bishop Dodo found greatest happiness to serve the people of God.

The charity foundation describes the late Bishop as having been a humble man, saying, “When he became bishop, he decided to live in a modest parish house on the outskirts of the city and was in no hurry to build a Bishop’s residence.”

Bishop Dodo was also “very brave”, ACN reports, recalling a terrorist incident that the Nigerian Bishop survived about a decade ago when militants detonated an explosive near his house.

“On 17 June 2012 a bomb intended for the nearby Sacred Heart Catholic Church went off near his house, killing two people and injuring 50. When the suicide bombers were prevented from entering the compound of the Catholic Church by determined young Catholics on guard duty, they reversed back down the road and detonated the explosives. The remains of the car ended up in the compound of the Bishop’s house, which was damaged,” the charity foundation narrates.

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When ACN completed constructing a new house in the compound of the Sacred Heart Parish, the Bishop “was unfazed and continued to work for the benefit of his flock”, the Pontifical foundation has reported.

Bishop Dodo died on July 8 following “a brief illness,” the Vice Chancellor of Zaria Diocese announced in a statement shared with ACI Africa.

Bishop Dodo had been at the helm of Zaria Diocese since March 2001. Pope John Paul II erected the Nigerian Diocese from the Archdiocese of Kaduna in December 2000. 

Born in April 1956, the late Nigerian Catholic Bishop was ordained a member of the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Kaduna in June 1983.

At the time of his death, Bishop Dodo was serving as a committee member of the Mission and Inter Religious Dialogue Department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria


He served as the chairman of Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from December 2012 to 2019.

In the August 9 report, ACN has noted that Bishop Dodo suffered from ill health, and had experienced much pain. The charity foundation, however, notes that the Bishop’s “sudden death” was a surprise for all.

ACN recalls the tribute of Bishop Julius Yakubu Kundi, the Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan who said that Bishop Dodo’s death caught everyone that knew him flat-footed.

“We were not prepared for his death. He passed on when we least expected and needed him most in the Diocese. His demise created a big vacuum not only for the Church in Zaria, but also in Kaduna State where he has served as a member of the State Peace commission for so many years,” Bishop Kundi is quoted by ACN as having said at the August 4 burial ceremony.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.