Catholic Bishops Called to Service, Not to “honor”: Nuncio in Sierra Leone at Consecration

Archbishop Walter Erbì (left), Apostolic Nuncio in Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia and Bishop Bob John Hassan Koroma (right), the new Local Ordinary of Makeni Diocese in Sierra Leone. Credit: Makeni Diocese

The representative of the Holy Father in Sierra Leone has advised the new Bishop of the country’s Catholic Diocese of Makeni to view his Episcopal consecration as a humble service to the people of God and not a call to “honor.” 

In his homily during the Episcopal Ordination of Mons. Bob John Hassan Koroma, Archbishop Walter Erbì also urged the new Bishop to be “a faithful servant, a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ.”

“Consider that you are chosen from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God,” Archbishop Erbì said during the Saturday, May 13 event, adding, “The title of Bishop is one of service, not of honor and therefore a Bishop should strive to benefit others rather than Lord it over them.”

The Apostolic Nuncio in Sierra Leone who also represents the Holy Father in Liberia and The Gambia also urged the new Bishop to be “a father to this Church, the Church of God in Makeni.”

“You are asked now to share with your Church the joy of having been blessed with the gift of paternity for her and with fatherly care to serve her and all her children,” the Italian-born 55-year-old Archbishop said.


He encouraged the new Sierra Leonean Bishop to “preach the word in season and out of season, reprove with all patience and sound teachings as you pray and offer sacrifice for the people committed to your care.”

“Devote yourself wholeheartedly to seeking every kind of grace for them, from the fullness of Christ's holiness,” Archbishop Erbì said.

He continued, “In the Church, you be a faithful servant, a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over His family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep and is known by them and who did not hesitate to lay down His life for them.”

“With the charity of a father and brother, love all whom God places in your care, especially the Priests and Deacons who are your co-workers in the Ministry of Christ, but also the poor and the weak, immigrants and strangers,” the representative of the Holy Father in Sierra Leone said. 

Mons. Koroma who was ordained a Priest in November 1971 was appointed Bishop for the Diocese of Makeni in Northern Province of Sierra Leone on February 12.

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In his May 13 homily, Archbishop Erbì told the new Bishop “not to refuse to listen willingly” to the faithful.

“Never relax your concern for those who are not yet gathered into the one fold of Christ; they too are entrusted to you in the Lord,” he said, and added, “Be faithful to the motto you have chosen to guide your Episcopal ministry: May they all be one.”

“Never forget that you are joined to the College of Bishops in the Catholic Church, made one by the bond of charity, and therefore you should have a constant concern for all the churches and gladly come to support the churches in need,” Archbishop Erbì further said.

He urged the new Catholic Bishop to “keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit appoints you to govern the Church of God.” 

“Let us entrust ourselves, our Episcopal and Priestly ministries, all the ministries, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the Church under whose mantle we will always, and certainly find a safe refuge,” the Apostolic Nuncio implored.


Bishop Koroma, who had been serving as Vicar General of Makeni Diocese at his appointment succeeds Bishop George Biguzzi who retired in January 2012.

In his maiden speech during the May 13 event, Bishop Koroma thanked Pope Francis for “this great act of trust and confidence reposed in me by appointing me to this sacred office.”

He added in reference to the Holy Father, “I pledge my loyalty to him as Vicar of Christ and successor of Saint Peter and assure him of my resolve to exercise this sacred office in the spirit of Christ the Good Shepherd in union with him and with all the Bishops in communion with him.”

Bishop Koroma continued, “With deep humility, I offer thanks to God through whose grace and Providence I have been called to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Makeni.”

He went on to appeal for “free, fair, transparent and credible” general elections that have been scheduled to take place on June 24 amid what religious leaders in the West African nation have termed “early warning signs of conflict and election violence”.

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“As the general and presidential elections draw near, I wish to seize the opportunity to make a special appeal to all of you, my compatriots, especially the relevant stakeholders, to ensure that the coming elections in June be conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner, devoid of violence and intimidation,” the newly consecrated Sierra Leonean Bishop said.

He noted that “the pursuit of any political office should never be a matter of life and death if the honest objective is to serve.”

“Sierra Leone is desperately waiting to be served, not maltreated,” the Local Ordinary of Makeni Diocese said on the day of his Episcopal Consecration.

He added, “Whoever emerges victorious in this coming election should strive to promote good governance, which respects and upholds the rule of law and selflessly seeks and works for the good and the well-being of all Sierra Leoneans without merely focusing on ethnic, regional or party extractions.”

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.