English Africa Service -Vatican City; Recowa – Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Born 1 March 1963, Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke was first appointed Bishop of Ahiara Diocese by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 December 2012 and ordained Bishop on 21 May 2013. He resigned as Bishop of Ahiara on 19 February 2018.
The new Diocese of Ekwulobia
On 5 March 2020, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Okpaleke to the newly created Diocese of Ekwulobia. It is a diocese in Anambra State that was formerly under the jurisdiction of Awka Diocese. Ekwulobia Diocese will be a suffragan diocese of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Onitsha.
Ekwulobia is a town in southeastern Nigeria. It is one of the largest cities in Anambra State after Awka, Onitsha, and Nnewi.
The Installation Mass
The Right Reverend Okpaleke was recently installed Bishop at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral, Ekwulobia. The Archbishop of Onitsha, Valerian Okeke presided over the Installation Mass.
In his homily, Archbishop Valerian Okeke who was also the designated papal delegate at the ceremony reminded Bishop Okpalaeke that he had been called to guide and strengthen the flock in the new Diocese. For his part, Bishop of Awka Diocese, Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, expressed joy at the erection of the new Diocese as something that had long been sought-after. He also expressed confidence that Bishop Okpalaeke would be a good Chief Shepherd of the Diocese.
The newly installed Bishop Okpaleke said that in his pastoral ministry, he would strive to emphasise evangelisation at the local level. He invited the faithful to a “personal and intimate relationship with Jesus.”
Pope Francis acknowledges pastoral progress in Ekwulobia
These were the words of Pope Francis read at the erection of the new Diocese of Ekwulobia Diocese as translated into English from the Latin original:
“Aware of the favourable progress in the spreading of the Gospel, having heard the opinion of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People, and the weighty opinion of those concerned having been sought, after careful examination, we humbly resolve and willingly decree that the requests, strongly presented to us for the salvation of souls, be granted. Consequently, with the fullness of our Apostolic authority, the designated territory in the boundaries of the city region known as Anambra state, from the three districts commonly called Aguata, Orumba North and Orumba South, we decided that they be separated from Awka Diocese and so from the divided territory, we erect and constitute a new Diocese called Ekwulobia. We decree that the seat of this new Diocese be fixed in the same city known as Ekwulobia, and we elevate the parochial Church existing there, dedicated to St. Joseph the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to the rank and dignity of a Cathedral Church. In addition, we constitute this new Diocese of Ekwulobia a suffragan of Metropolitan Church of Onitsha,” the Pope’s decree read.
Entrusting new Diocese to Bishop Okpaleke
In entrusting the new Diocese to Bishop Okpaleke, the Holy Father’s decree read: “Pope Francis, Servant of the Servants of God, to Venerable Brother Peter Ebere Okpaleke, until now the Emeritus Bishop of Ahiara, appointed the first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Ekwulobia, greetings, and Apostolic Blessing. While showing mercy and compassion towards everyone, you must assist us in spreading the teachings of Christ that we may grow in the charity of Jesus, and His Word may be the light that illumines the way of all that trust in Him. Moreover, we turn to you Venerable Brother, who, in your work as Bishop, manifested good disposition of heart and adequate intelligence, and appear to us suitable for directing the flock entrusted to your care.”