By Ononye VC
Today, Friday, 17 March 2023, marks a new dawn for Catholicism in Nigeria as a new diocese, the Catholic Diocese of Aguleri, is officially inaugurated and consecrated, and its first bishop in the person of His Lordship Denis Chidi Isizoh is enthroned.
Pope Francis had announced the erection of the new diocese on 12 February 2023, and the news was received across the great Archdiocese of Onitsha with joy, merriment and a sense of fulfilment by the Aguleri community and others who fall within the new diocese.
Part of it was a brief airport reception given to Bishop Denis Chidi Isizoh when he touched down at the Anambra airport in Aguleri—on his return from a CBCN meeting in Abuja—with other brother bishops, such as the metropolitan archbishop of Onitsha, the Most Rev. Valerian Okeke; the cardinal bishop of the Ekwulobia Diocese, His Eminence Peter Okpaleke; and the bishop of the Awka Diocese, the Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, among other priests and faithful.
The joy is palpable as every arrangement has been made to give comfort for the huge congregation and visitors from other parts of the country and abroad.
Adequate security is said to have been provided and several committees have worked round the clock to ensure a hitch-free event.
Aguleri Diocese: Areas of coverage
Information reaching our news desk says the new Aguleri Diocese will cover four local government areas carved out from the Archdiocese of Onitsha. They include Anambra West, Anambra East, Oyi and Ayamelum local government areas.
According to records, it is estimated that the total population of citizens in the area is 1,857,060, out of which 357,965 are Catholics. It is indicated that about 113 diocesan priests will make up the new diocese with 7 religious priests. The initial number of parishes is 63.
Until his appointment as the first bishop of the Diocese of Aguleri, Bishop Isizoh has served as the auxiliary bishop of Onitsha and the titular bishop of Legia.
Born in 1956 in Ogbunike in the Archdiocese of Onitsha, the bishop completed his philosophy studies at Bigard Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene, from 1976 to 1980, and his theology studies at Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, from 1982 to 1985.
He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Onitsha on September 28, 1985, and was consecrated a bishop on May 1, 2015.
As a priest, the bishop served in different capacities, including as parish vicar, chaplain for schools, and formator at All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha. He also served as an official of the Pontifical Council for interreligious Dialogue, Vatican City (1995–2015), among other priestly responsibilities.
Bishop Isizoh had his licentiate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome between 1989 and 1993.
Trinitas congratulates him and the entire Catholic community.
Meanwhile, a deluge of congratulatory messages from friends, family and other well wishers has flooded the Trinitas newsroom to felicitate the bishop and also to appreciate Archbishop Okeke, whose episcopacy has produced the new Diocese of Aguleri and others.
Apart from the numerous messages from top clerics and priests, heads of organisations in the archdiocese have congratulated Bishop Isizoh and hailed Archbishop Okeke. Some of them include the president general of the Catholic Men’s Organisation, Sir Evarist Uba; the director of the Catholic Women’s Organisation, Dame Ngozi Nwanosike; and the chairman of the Onitsha Archdiocesan Laity Council, Engr Leo Obiefuna.
The president of the Catholic Lawyers Association, Archdiocese of Onitsha, Sir Azubike Anazor, in his brief remark said it was a marvelous development for which the archbishop deserves commendation, and he called for prayers for Bishop Isizoh to succeed.