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Jubilation In Anambra As Pope Francis Erects Catholic Diocese

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The recent official establishment of the newly founded Diocese of Aguleri by the Catholic Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis, and the installation of Dennis Isizoh as its founding Bishop marked a momentous occasion in Anambra State.

According to Nigerian church history, Onyekomeli Ogbuanyinya Idigo welcomed Rev. Fr. Joseph Emile Lutz, C.S.Sp., and his missionary retinue for the first time in May 1888, marking the beginning of the Catholic Church in Aguleri.

The Eastern Updates gathered that later same year, a mission station was established at Aguleri and  on May 27, 1890, Fr. Lutz paid a formal visit to Aguleri Mission Station and led in the Eucharistic celebration for the formal opening of the new station.

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On February 12, 2023, 133 years later, Pope Francis announced the creation of the new Diocese of Aguleri and appointed Bishop Isizoh,  a former auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha as the first Bishop of the new diocese.

On its formal inauguration day on the 17th of March, 2023, three cardinals, 43 bishops, over 1000 clergymen, and hundreds of other people were in attendance .

It was a solemn moment as the ceremony for the erection of the new diocese and installation of the diocesan Bishop began with the introductory rites at the door of the cathedral of St. Joseph Aguleri where all the priests present proceeded to the sanctuary, venerated the altar and took their seats.

When the new Bishop for installation got to the main door of the cathedral which remained closed before then, accompanied by other Bishops, he paused momentarily and the Metropolitan Catholic Bishop of Onitsha , Most Rev. Valerian Okeke introduced him to the leader of the Council of Priests as the newly appointed Local Ordinary who has come to take possession of his diocese.

The most senior priest in the procession handed over a crucifix to Bishop Isizor to kiss and a sprinkler with holy water which he collected and sprinkled himself and those gathered round him.

He then proceeded to open the main door of the Cathedral through which the Bishops continued the procession into the church.

On entering the Cathedral Church proper, the Chief Celebrant, Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Most Rev. Anthonio Guido Filipazzi who represented Pope Francis in the celebration was also introduced formally by the Metropolitan Archbishop, Valerian Okeke.

The Papal Nuncio while proceeding in the Eucharistic celebration read out the Apostolic Letter known as Papal Bull written by Pope Francis granting authority to the new Bishop to take full canonical possession of the diocese.

Bishop Isizoh was also led by a Papal Delegate to formally sit on the cathedra, a special seat of a Bishop in the Cathedral while staffs of office was given to him by the Papal Nuncio amidst applause from the congregation to complete the installation process.

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