Bishop Denis Isizoh Installed as First Bishop Of Aguleri Diocese

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By Polycarp Ifeanyi, Onitsha

The former auxiliary Bishop of Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, His lordship Most Rev. Denis Chidi Isizoh has been officially installed as the first Bishop of Aguleri Diocese. 

Pope Francis had on February 12 announced the erection of the new Diocese of Agulari and appoint Bishop Isizoh as the first Bishop which brought wide jubilation to the entire Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha. 

The occasion which also featured  canonical erection of Agulari Diocese took place at St. Joseph’s Cathedral Aguleri, Anambra East LGA and attracted the presence of Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and numerous religious men and women as well as lay faithful across Onitsha Archdiocese.

According to the history of Catholic Church in Aguleri, the earliest missionary Priests arrived in Aguleri in 1888 and since then, there has been an uninterrupted presence of the Church in the area and where they called  Hill of Christians ” Ugwundi uka,” the present St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Agulari which later became a parish in 1891 but now raised to the status of a Cathedral.

Delivering his homily during the Mass to mark the event, the Apostolic Nunico in Nigeria, Most Rev. Anthonio Guido Filipazzi expressed gratitude to the early missionary Priests who he said instituted Church in Aguleri, commending Spiritual prowess of Blessed Michael Iwene Tansi who he said is indigene of Agulari.

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He enjoined the congregation to increase their zeal in worshipping God especially Aguleri Diocese in other to propagate the gospel of God down to grass root level for more conversation of  souls to Jesus Christ.

The president of Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji in his remark described the event as a historical moment, saying that he was privileged to be part of it, adding that it was honour for him to set his foot in the ancient found of Agulari which he said is ancestral  home of Blessed Micheal Iwene Tansi. 

He disclosed that he was glad that Church in Agulari as a mother of other parishes has become a Diocese, praising the earlier Irish missionary Priests for their selfless services and courage to establish Church in Agulari and also eulogized successive Archbishops, priests and laities who he said had been consolidating the Church in Onitsha Archdiocese.

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Also speaking, the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo testified that the occasion equally signifies that Anambra State as a Christian State is in the hand of God, pointing out that March 17, is symbolic to him.

He continued saying that he took oath of office as the Governor of Anambra State on March 17, also the same March 17, new cardinal from Onitsha Ecclesiastical Provence was ordained, even as he said that he glorify God for all the remarkable event that happened during his regime as the Governor of Anambra State.

Appreciating his guests, the celebrant, Bishop Isizoh said he took the event for granted and he never expected that it would be so great. He praised the Apostolic Nunico in Nigeria, Most Rev. Anthonio Guido Filipazzi for his efforts and other Cardinals, Priests Religious and laities who graced occasion.  

In a special way, he lauded the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, His Grace Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, saying that he worked with him for 8 years and nobody came to settle issue between both of them, describing Archbishop Okeke as a good man.

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Bishop Isizoh stated that he would not work alone as a Bishop of new Diocese, announcing Monsignor Francis Akwanya as the vicar general, Rev. Fr. Innocent Egbunike as the chancellor respectively.

He also disclosed that he will establish Seminary of the Diocese at Igbariam with Rev. Fr. Henry Nweke as the pioneer rector.

Commenting, former Vice Chancellor of Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam, Prof. Fidelis Okafor described Bishop Isizoh as a simple and humble Bishop, just as the former President general of  Catholic Men Organization (CMO) Onitsha Archdiocese, Hon. Sir. Ifeanyichukwu E.S. Nnajiaku in his letter of felicitation, noted that Bishop Isizoh embraced pastoral vocation with zeal, humility and love.

Some dignitaries at the event included; Obi of Onitsha, HRM Igwe Alfred Achebe, Presidential candidate for Labour Party, His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, Senator Victor Umeh, HRM Igwe Idigo, Dr. Tony Nwoye amongst other.

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