By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Anambra State Government has expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for the creation of a new Catholic Diocese in the state which brings the number of Catholic dioceses in the state to four.
In a statement signed and made available to newsmen in Awka, the state capital, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, said with the creation of the Ekwulobia Diocese last week, Pope Francis had enabled Anambra to have four Catholic dioceses.
His words, ‘This is another first for our state which has in the past five years become synonymous with excellence.
‘It is, indeed, a fitting tribute to the state from which the Catholic faith, just like the Anglican faith, spread to all parts of Igboland and beyond,’ he said.
‘The people and Government of Anambra State are very proud of their Christian heritage,’ the statement added.
‘Our enthusiastic embrace of Christianity has been a great blessing as it enabled the fast spread of education and modern medical care in our society.’
Adinuba disclosed that Governor Obiano had congratulated Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke on his appointment as the premier shepherd of the new diocese.
‘The Vatican could not have made a better choice. Most Reverend Dr Okpaleke is prepared by experience, education, exposure and excellent human relations for the new task,’ Adinuba stated.
‘He studied in Nigeria and Europe and has served meritoriously in every position he has been given the opportunity to serve God and man”.
Governor Obiano also lauded Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor of the Awka Diocese, from which the Ekwulobia Diocese was carved out, for his great role in the creation of the new diocese.
‘Whereas in other climes leaders work against so-called reduction of their territories, it is heartwarming that it was the local ordinary in Awka who championed the campaign for the emergence of the new diocese from his area of jurisdiction.
‘It shows the kind of person our bishop is: a man totally devoted to the service of God and absolutely committed to the public good.
Governor Obiano asked Nigerian politicians and other leaders to learn from Bishop Ezeokafor’s selflessness and always work for the common good.