By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
Acceptance and joy have been greeting the May 30, 2020 appointment of Reverend Father Michael Kalu Ukpong as the Auxiliary Bishop of the 26-year old Catholic Diocese of Umuahia by Pope Francis. The Diocese was erected on March 26, 1994.
Baring her mind on the development, the President, Catholic Women’s Organisation (C.W.O), Umuahia Diocese, Lady Victoria Adaora Aliba, described it as a welcome development and a big relief for the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Most Rev Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, who, according to her, had been coordinating three dioceses, in addition to his position as the Vice President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
Lady Aliba spoke to Fides at St Monica’s Catholic Church, Ogbunka, Orumba South LGA, Anambra State, last Sunday, July 5, on the occasion of the First Solemn Mass of thanksgiving and reception for the 13th Ogbunka indigenous Catholic priest, Rev Fr Emmanuel Okoro, who was ordained for the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia.
According to Lady Aliba, the appointment was a relief to Most Rev Ugorji, the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, who was also the Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese, and who had been coordinating the Catholic Diocese of Aba.
She expressed happiness that it would come as a relief to Bishop Ugorji and make his work less burdensome, noting that some episcopal responsibilities would be allotted to the auxiliary bishop once he assumed duty after his consecration.
Pointing out that the people of Umuahia Diocese received the appointment of the auxiliary bishop with great joy, the CWO President assured that the women’s organisation of the diocese would give the auxiliary bishop the same working support and cooperation it had been giving to Bishop Ugorji as the diocesan bishop.
The president described the appointment of the auxiliary bishop as what would boost human, spiritual and economic development in Umuahia Diocese.
‘I am confident that the auxiliary bishop appointee, who is an ideal academia, a priest and an administrator, has what it takes to assist the bishop to move the diocese forward,’ Lady Aliba said. This was even as she observed that Umuahia was not a Catholic dominated area.
Until his appointment as the auxiliary bishop, Reverend Fr Ukpong was the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, as well as the parish priest, St Theresa’s Parish, Umuahia.
An alumni of Seat of Wisdom Major Seminary, Ulakwo, Owerri, and Saint Joseph’s Major Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene, where he did his Philosophy and Theology respectively, Fr Ukpong was ordained a Catholic priest for Umuahia Diocese on August 7, 1993.
He had served as the Secretary to the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia, 1994-1996, and the editor of Lumen Newspaper of Umuahia Diocese, 1999-2001, among other sacerdotal positions.
Fides gathered that the episcopal consecration of the appointed auxiliary bishop, Monsignor Michael Ukpong, has been fixed for Thursday, July 30, 2020, at Mater Dei Cathedral, Umuahia, Abia State.
But attendance will be strictly on invitation due to the COVID-19 palliative protocols.