Every major incident becomes historic, especially when it is of collective interest, and when a people embraces its import as a milestone in their developmental, religious and sociological narrative, and as such, every artifact from it is a historical memorabilia. When the premier Bishop of Ahiara Diocese, Most Rev Dr Victor Adibe Chikwe, was ordained in Rome on January 6, 1988, there were only a few persons who followed him to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome for his Episcopal Consecration; prominent among them was Chief D.O. Onu of blessed memory, who became the first Pastoral Council Chairman of the newly created Ahiara Diocese; then Rev Fr Emmanuel Ogu, who is now Monsignor.
The Internet of Things was not fashionable at the time, since the internet was only birthed on January 1, 1983, and made public on April 30, 1993. It was not like these days, the very hotspot and omega-point of the internet blast. The inclusive digital presence would have virtually transported the vivacious information oriented population of Mbaise to the cyberspace of St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, to be part of every digital split of activity in 1988. People relied on mental creations on what it meant to consecrate a Bishop, as Cable and Digital television networks like the Catholic owned EWTN were not available yet in Nigeria; only photographs of the event were available for a privileged few.
With nostalgia, this large community of Faith, Hope and Love that is Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise, relishes the relics of his Consecration, and the exciting reception from the airport. He was Mbaise’s hero. Today in our time, another hero is emerging, in the person of His Excellency, Msgr Simeon Okezuo Nwobi (CMF). Curiously, expectations are high and emotions running at a higher degree, as Msgr Nwobi’s historic Episcopal Consecration is about to take place on Mbaise soil, the first of its kind, on December 19, 2023, at the Mater Ecclesiae Cathedral Church, Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise.
Ahiara Diocese has become the epicentre of interests in the African Church, having survived years of turbulence and an invasive test of faith, coming from the three years of mourning the late Bishop Chikwe, through the next ten years of ‘Desperate Hours’, as they prayed for a Bishop like Bishop Chikwe. It was a ‘Long Road to Tipperary’, yet the resilience and forbearance attracted mercy for them, and for the first time in 13 years, the population witnessed at the funeral of Bishop Chikwe, on October 7, 2010, may be almost doubled on December 19, 2023.
This Ordination will be the third high point of activities in the Cathedral Church of Ahiara Diocese, the first being the very first Mass to be held in that Church, which was the Ordination of the 2002 set of Ahiara Priests, on August 3, 2002, when 12 Priests were ordained (representing the 12 pillars of that Church), and yours faithfully, was the third in number, among the 12 Priests of that epoch making event.