By Gabriel Omonhinmin
Last week Sunday, March 6, 2022, just as all the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria gathered in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to kick start their annual conference, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), the Catholic Pontiff, His Holiness, Pope Francis, approved the appointment of the former Bishop of Umuahia and former Apostolic Administrator of the Ahiara Diocese, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji as the new Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese in Imo State.
Pope Francis, representative in Nigeria, His Grace, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, announced Dr Ugorji’s new appointment during the first plenary meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
Bishop Ugorji now takes over from Archbishop Anthony John Valentine (AJV) Obinna, who was the Archbishop of Owerri Archdiocese for 28 years. The 75 years old Archbishop Obinna, who hails from Emekuku in Owerri, Imo state, voluntarily retired from the vineyard after 50 years of meritorious service, according to the Pontiff Representative in Nigeria, it has been accepted by the Catholic Pope, The Trumpet, gathered.
As the 70 years old Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji was still savouring his new appointment as the Bishop of Owerri Archdiocese, he was elected the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN).
Bishop Ugorji was first ordained a priest at the young age of 25 years. He was later appointed a Bishop by Pope John Paul II when he was 38 years old.
Three months ago, Bishop Ugorji resigned his position as Chairman, Governing Council of the Imo State University, Owerri. He was reported to have approached the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, on several occasions demanding that the State University be properly funded, sadly the Imo State Governor refused to accept his proposals for the state tertiary institutions to be adequately funded and run. In his reaction, the Bishop said, “As a Cleric, I do not understand how the state Governor will expect me to preside over an institution, which is underfunded and stagnated.”
Most Revered Ugorji, who took over the CBCN presidency from the Most Revered Augustine Akubeze, whose four-year tenure just expired, was the former Vice-President of the body. Archbishop Mathew Ndagoso of the Kaduna Archdiocese was appointed Ugorji’s Vice-President. While Bishop Donatus Ogun of Uromi Diocese, was appointed the CBCN Secretary, and Bishop Peter Odetoyinbo of Abeokuta Diocese was made the Assistant Secretary of CBCN.
The Theme of this year’s Catholic Bishop Conference was “Path to Building Human Fraternity and Sustainable Peace in Nigeria.”
Revered Mike Umoh, who announced these appointments in a statement, says the Bishops just elected are to oversee various departments and units of the Catholic Secretariat.