It was a carnival of sorts on August 31, 2018 at St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Ozalla in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State as the first Auxiliary Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Enugu; Rt. Rev. Ernest Obodo was ordained.
It was the first of its kind in the diocese since its creation on November 12, 1962. The representative of Pope Francis, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria and Titular Bishop of Sutrium, Most Rev. Anthonio Guido Filipazzi, was the principal consecrator assisted by many bishops.
From every location; those present could catch live glimpse of the activities inside the ordination arena with the aid of large screens placed at strategic locations.
Soon after, Archbishop Filipazzi took the stage for the consecration; with him were the co-consecrators: Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, Archbishop of Onitsha and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Provence; and Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, Catholic Bishop of Enugu.
In a papal bull, dated May 25, 2018, Pope Francis wrote: “By our Supreme Authority, therefore, we appoint you the Auxiliary Bishop of Enugu Diocese and at the same time announce you as the Titular Bishop of Mediana with all the rights and obligations appertaining to such Episcopal office and dignity according to the norms of the Canon Law”. He however, charged him to ensure that he maintained unity with the Bishop of Enugu.
In a joint address, the clergy, members of the consecrated life and the laity of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu described the announcement of the appointment of Obodo as auxiliary bishop as a surprise, but however, added that “it ended up a pleasant surprise because anyone who knows the Enugu Diocese of today would be very much in agreement that the See is really due and ripe for it. The growth in faith that the Diocese has recorded within the five and half decades of its existence, has come with enormous pastoral demands that would be very challenging to any bishop.”
They also reminded him of the enormous challenges ahead, even as they expressed optimism that he would brace up to these demands; while at the same time pledging their prayers, goodwill and collaboration.
In his goodwill message, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), and the Archbishop of Benin City, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, thanked God for elevating Obodo to the rank of bishop.
He was optimistic that the celebrant will bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to bear in the new office for the good of the people of God in Enugu Diocese and the Church in Nigeria.
The new bishop was full of emotion as he thanked the large crowd, and emphasized that “It is He that chose me before I was born. His-choice is always contrary to human expectations.”
His immense gratitude went to Pope Francis; and his family for the disciplined upbringing, and added that he owed a great debt of gratitude too “To this Church that gave me a befitting moral and spiritual formation for solid 12 years in the seminary and assigned me to work for her these 18 years.”
He equally thanked members of other ecclesial bodies that graced the occasion pointing out that ecumenical dialogue promotes peace and progress.
In a special way, he thanked Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for his support and firm belief in God, and noted that one of the greatest achievements he has recorded in the state is peace.