Ahiara Diocese: Most Revd Lucius Ugorji finally takes charge


The new Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese of the Catholic Church, in Mbaise, Imo State, Most Revd Lucius Ugorji, will formally assume duty on Saturday.

Bishop Ugorji will hold his first Mass at the diocese on Saturday.

Also, the Bishop would meet with priests in the diocese and the laity the same day.

Mostt. Revd Ugorji, the Bishop of Umuahia, was three weeks ago, appointed by Pope Francis to oversee the diocese, following the resignation of Most Revd Peter Ebere Okpalaeke.

Okpaleke quit the position after a protracted crisis that rocked the diocese for about six years.

Rev. Fr. Chris N. Anyanwu, Director of Social Communications at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Abuja, had announced Okpalaeke’s resignation.

“Following the resignation of Most Revd Peter Okpalaeke as the Bishop of Ahaira Diocese, as a result of the crisis that has lingered for nearly six years in that diocese, His Holiness, Pope Francis, has, today, appointed Most Rev Lucius Ugorji, the Bishop of Umuahia, as the Apostolic Administrator of Ahaira Diocese,” he had said.

Bishop Okpaleke, was appointed Bishop of Ahiara by then-Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 after the demise of Bishop Victor Chikwe, but was unable to take control of the diocese because of protests by the majority of priests.

Okpaleke was later ordained a bishop in May 2013. However, the ordination took place not in the Ahiara diocese but at a seminary in the Archdiocese of Owerri.

Ahiara Cathedral and the Bishop’s Court afterwards remained under lock and key as the clerics contended that Ahiara is in Mbaise, a predominantly Catholic region of Imo State and that Bishop Okpaleke was brought from neighbouring Anambra State.

It would be recalled that in reaction to their opposition, Pope Francis gave the defiant priests a 30-day ultimatum, which expired Sunday July 9, to write a letter of apology for their opposition, promise obedience to authority and accept the bishop appointed for their diocese.

Although the priests were said to have complied with the Pope’s directive and apologized, they had backed laity leaders to continue with the struggle.


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