Pope Erects New Diocese in Nigeria, Appoints New Local Ordinaries in Sierra Leone, Morocco

Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh (left), Mons. Bob John Hassan Koroma (center) and Mons. Emilio Rocha Grande (right). Credit: Courtesy Photo

Pope Francis has erected a new Catholic Diocese in Nigeria and appointed new Local Ordinaries for the Archdiocese of Tanger in Morocco and Makeni Diocese in Sierra Leone.

The erection of Aguleri Catholic Diocese and the appointment of Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh as the first Local Ordinary of the Episcopal See was made public by the Holy See Press Office Sunday, February 12.

Aguleri Diocese has been “dismembered from the Archdiocese of Onitsha and made a suffragan of the same Metropolitan See,” the Vatican has announced.

The new Nigerian is situated in South-East Nigeria, in the State of Anambra, and comprises four Local Government Areas, which include Anambra West, Anambra East, Oyi, and Ayamelum.

The newly created Catholic Diocese measures 1,388 square kilometers and has a population of 1,857,060 of which 357,965 are Catholics, according to 2023 statistics.


Bishop Chidi who until his appointment has been serving as Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha and Titular Bishop of Legia was ordained a Priest in September 1985 for Onitsha Archdiocese.

Born in 1956 in Ogbunike in the Archdiocese of Onitsha, the Bishop was enrolled for his Philosophy studies at Bigard Seminary (philosophy campus) Ikot-Ekpene from 1976 to 1980 and for his studies in Theology at Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu from 1982 to 1985.

As a Priest, the 67-year-old Bishop served in several positions including Parish Vicar, Chaplain for Schools, and formator at All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha. 

He also served as an official of the Rome-based Pontifical Council  for Interreligious Dialogue,  from 1995 - 2015.

Bishop Chidi had his Licentiate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome between 1989 and 1993.

More in Africa

In February 2015, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and was consecrated in May of the same year.

After he is installed, the Nigerian Catholic Bishop is to oversee the newly created Diocese, which has 63 Parishes to be served by 113 Diocesan Priests, seven missionary Priests, six men Religious, 310 women Religious, 59 major Seminarians and 151 Catechists, according to the Holy See report.

Meanwhile, on February 11, Pope Francis appointed the Vicar General of the Sierra Leone`s Diocese of Makeni, Mons. Bob John Hassan Koroma, as Bishop of the same Episcopal See.

The appointment of Mons. Koroma was made public by the Holy See Press Office.

In a message shared with ACI Africa Sunday, February 12 Mons. Koroma gives thanks to God Almighty for his new mission. 


“After days of prayerful reflection, with deep humility and faith in the all Good and faithful God, I accept this appointment by the Holy Father Pope Francis to serve the Diocese of Makeni as a Bishop,” Mons. Koroma says in his message.

He adds, “Notwithstanding the mixture of emotions I have had recently about this new call in my life, feelings of nervousness, fear of the unknown, excitement, a sense of my limitations, a sense of my inadequacies … I draw strength and take consolation from the words of the Lord in Matthew’s gospel chapter 11 verse 29-30: Take my York and learn from it, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. My York is easy and my burden is light.”

Makeni Diocese became vacant in January 2012 when Bishop George Biguzzi retired at the age of 75. Since then, the Diocese has been under the leadership of Bishop Natale Paganelli as the Apostolic Administrator. 

Born in November 1971 in Kamabai, Mons. Koroma was ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Makeni in April 1999.

Since his Priestly ordination, he has served in several positions including, collaborator with Vatican Radio; professor of sacred scripture and dean of studies in St. Paul’s Major Seminary in Freetown (2008-2014); collaborator at St. Catherine of Siena and Little Compton and St. Madeleine in Tiverton, United States of America.

(Story continues below)

He also served as Parish Priest of Immaculate Conception in Magburaka and professor at the Diocesan University of Makeni.

Since 2015, he has been serving as Vicar General of the Diocese of Makeni and, administrator of the Cathedral since 2016.

The Bishop-elect holds a licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute and a doctorate in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.

In his February 12 message shared with ACI Africa in which he says he commits the Episcopal “call therefore into God’s hands”, Mons. Koroma says, “The burden of the Lord which he gives in love, the burden accepted in love, and carried out in love is always light because the Lord himself accompanies us, and helps us in carrying that burden.”

Once ordained Bishop, Mons. Koroma is to oversee the Sierra Leonean Diocese that has a population of 100,000 Catholics, according to 2019 statistics

The 36,075 square-kilometer Catholic Diocese that was erected in December 1994 is part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Freetown.

In another recent administrative change in Africa, Pope Francis appointed Mons. Emilio Rocha Grande as the Local Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Tanger in Morocco.

The Spanish-born member of the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin (OFM Cap.) was until his appointment the Apostolic Administrator of the Moroccan Episcopal See, which became vacant following the resignation of Archbishop Emeritus Santiago Agrelo Martínez in May 2019.

The 64-year-old Archbishop-elect was ordained a Priest in February 1991.

Since his Priestly ordination, the Archbishop-elect served in several positions including teacher, guardian of the Conventi, master of Postulants and of OFM Members in temporarily vows, Assistant of the Franciscan Family, Provincial Vicar; visitator general of the province of Cartagena, Murcia and of Santiago de Compostela.

On 25 February 2022, he was appointed the Apostolic Administrator of Tanger, taking over from Cristóbal Cardinal López Romero, Archbishop of Rabat Archdiocese; the latter had been at the helm of the Archdiocese in the same capacity since 2019. 

He is expected to become the fifth Archbishop of Tanger.

Archbishop-elect Grande will be one of the two local ordinaries to lead the only two dioceses in Morocco: The Catholic Archdiocese of Rabat and the Catholic Archdiocese of Tanger.

Erected in November 1956, Tanger Archdiocese has an estimated 3,000 Catholic population spread across 20,000 square kilometers, according to 2020 statistics.

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.