New Catholic Bishop Installed
New bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia, His Lordship, Most Rev. Michael Kalu Ukpong was on Thursday, installed.
The new Bishop who is now the third Bishop of Umuahia was consecrated and installed on 2nd February, 2023 in an event held at the Mater Dei cathedral, Umuahia led by the Pope Francis representative, His Grace Anthonio Guido Filipazzi, Papal Nuncio to Nigeria.
Bishop Ukpong, Amaekpu Ohafia, Abia State born priest had his Episcopal ordination (Auxillary Bishop), on 30th July, 2020 appointed Diocesan Administrator on 24th June, 2022 and on 1st November, 2022 was appointed Diocesan Bishop by Pope Francis to replace His Grace Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji who was elevated to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Owerri to also replace Archbishop Anthony Obinna whose retirement was accepted upon reaching the mandatory age limit of 75 years.
In his homily, Pope Francis representative, the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, His Grace, Archbishop Anthanio Guido Filipazzi who dwelt on the mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ and presentation in the temple said the installation of Bishop Michael Kalu Ukpong marks a new beginning in Umuahia Diocese and invited all to imbibe the virtues of humility and obedience which is Christlike.
Pope Francis who tasked the new Bishop to emulate his predecessor as the third Bishop of the diocese, urged him not to cut corners or take sides in the cause of his service and allow brotherly love to continue among his priests.
The new Bishop was also asked not to allow his new elevation to affect his humble position or to change his personality, even as he was tasked on the need to be accommodating.
Pope Francis reminded the new Bishop of the task ahead of him in shepherding the flock of God in a society where a lot need to be done to give succour to the ordinary man in the street.
The Pope who urged the bishop to prioritise peace building among the Catholic faithful through his spiritual guide, also encouraged him to be guided by the spirit of wisdom in loving all the believers without discrimination.
Responding, the newly installed Bishop of Umuahia Catholic Diocese, The Most Rev Michael Kalu Ukpong who said his goal is to grow and advance the Catholic Church, thanked His Holiness, Pope Francis for finding him worthy to pilot the affairs of Umuahia Diocese and promised to sustain the legacies his worthy predecessors, Bishops Anthony Nwedo and Lucius Ugorji left while soliciting the cooperation and contributions of all to move the Diocese forward.
Bishop Ukpong thanked the Catholic community and his predecessor Archbishop Lucius Ugorji for his great work of uniting the church together and vowed to take over for the continuous unity built among the Christians.
The new Bishop said he has come as a servant of the gospel together with the Catholic faithful in Umuahia diocese and wider diocese in different capacities to work together on what is needed for the development in the diocese.
Ukpong pledged to be guided by the spirit of God even as he said he is aware of the many contributions of those after him and insisted that all his actions will be guided according to the doctrine and norms of the universal church of the Catholic church.
While congratulating the Bishop during the Episcopal installation, the Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu represented by his deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu expressed delight that having come a long way in the Catholic priestly ministry, that Bishop Ukpong will bring in his rich/enriched experience and expertise to bear on the spiritual growth and development of the Diocese.
He expressed the willingness of the present administration to continue to partner the Catholic Church in Umuahia Diocese for the common good of all and enjoined the new bishop of the Diocese to consolidate and improve on the achievements recorded by his predecessor, the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Owerri Ecclesiastical province, His Grace, Most Rev Dr. Lucius Ugorji .
The Governor used the forum to appreciate the Holy Father , Pope Francis for elevating His Lordship, Bishop Michael Kalu Ukpong and prayed that God who elevated him, will uphold and sustain him as he discharge his Episcopal duties and responsibilities.
In his address, the President, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and Metropolitan Bishop of Owerri, His Grace, Most Rev Dr Lucius Ugorji congratulated the new Bishop and successor, Most Rev. Michael Kalu Ukpong and expressed optimism that with his rich pastoral experience and zeal he will excell and urged the leity and parishioners to support and cooperate with their new Bishop to enable the Diocese continue to flourish.
The Service which featured blessing of the congregants by the new Bishop attracted the presence of the member representing Abia Central Senatorial District Chief Theodore Orji, the Deputy Speaker, State House of Assembly, Mr Ifeanyi Uchendu, State Head of Service, Sir Onyi Wamah, candidates of various Parties, the Clergy, Traditional Rulers including the Ezieogo of Amaekpu Ohafia, Ezieogo Uduma Obuba Kalu among other dignitaries.
Most Rev. Michael Kalu Ukpong born 15th Dec, 1964 at Amaekpu Ohafia in Abia State studied Theology at St. Joseph Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene even as he was first ordained a priest at St. George’s Catholic church Amaekpu Ohafia in 1993.
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