By Jude Michael
The Catholic Diocese of Awka has set May 20 for the send-off of its immediately past auxiliary bishop, the Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye. Bishop Okoye is now the bishop of the Nnewi Diocese.
The event will take place on Saturday, May 20, 2023, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka, at 3 p.m.
Trinitas understands that His Lordship Bishop Okoye had requested for a very low key event, even a private send-off.
Bishop Okoye was born on 25th January 1963. His journey to the priesthood began when he gained admission to the prestigious St Paul’s Minor Seminary, Ukpor, in 1976, completing the first phase of his priestly formation at All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha, in 1981. In 1983, Bishop Okoye was sent to the then Bigard Memorial Seminary, Ikot Ekpene (now St Joseph’s Major Seminary Ikot Ekpene), where he obtained his bachelor of philosophy degree.
His seminary formation ended at the famous Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, where he graduated with 1st class honours in theology. He was subsequently ordained a priest of the Awka Diocese on August 29, 1992.
After ordination, Bishop Okoye’s priestly ministry was laced with various assignments and studies, culminating with 1st class honours in canon law in 2004. On coming back from studies in 2006, he was naturally saddled with many assignments. Notably, he served as judicial vicar for the Awka Diocese and a judge in the Onitsha Inter-Diocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal from 2007 to 2014.
The high point of his priestly ministry came on Friday, May 30, 2014, when His Holiness Pope Francis announced him as the auxiliary bishop of the Awka Diocese. He was subsequently consecrated on 29th August 2014 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka. Bishop Okoye then became an auxiliary to Bishop Ezeokafor. But Rome had other ideas. On the 9th of November 2021, Pope Francis proclaimed him the Catholic bishop of the Nnewi Diocese.
One of his many achievements as an auxiliary to Bishop Ezeokafor was overseeing the building of Peter University, a project that will forever see the two great bishops’ (Ezeokafor’s and Okoye’s) names written in gold. It is indeed for such meritorious excellent services that the Catholic Diocese of Awka, led by its ebullient Bishop Ezeokafor, wish to heartily thank Bishop Jonas Benson Okoye and wish him well in his new and higher office of service.