The Vatican on Thursday announced a number of episcopal appointments, including the first Bishop for a new diocese in Nigeria.
On Thursday, Pope Francis established the Diocese of Ekwulobia, in south eastern Nigeria, and named Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke as its first Ordinary. Bishop Okpaleke is the Bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Ahiara. The new Diocese is formed from a part of the territory of the Diocese of Awka, and will be a suffragan See of the Metropolitan See of Onitsha.
Pope Francis has also named new Bishops for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, USA, and the Diocese of Kinkala, Republic of Congo.
Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., currently serving as Bishop of Savannah, has been appointed as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Atlanta, USA. He succeeds Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who was transferred last year to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
In Kinkala, Father Ildevert Mathurin Mouanga has been named to succeed Bishop Louis Portella Mbuyu, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis. Father Mouanga, a priest of the Diocese of Kinkala, is currently the Rector of the Theological Interdiocesan Major Seminary “Emile Biayenda” in Brazzaville.
Biography of Archbishop-elect Gregory Hartmayer
Gregory John Hartmayer was born in Buffalo, New York, one of four children of John and Sally Hartmayer. He was raised in nearby Tonawanda, where he received his early education at St. Amelia School. He graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School in 1969.
In 1969, Hartmayer joined the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, commonly known as the Conventual Franciscans, at the St. Joseph Cupertino Friary in Ellicott City, Maryland. He took his simple vows as a Conventual Franciscan friar on 15 August 1970, and made his solemn profession on 15 August 1973. He also studied at St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in philosophy in 1974. From 1974 to 1975, he taught at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore. He then returned to New York to study theology at St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, receiving a Master of Theology degree in 1979.
Bishop Hartmayer was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard on 5 May 1979, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, NY. He then returned to Archbishop Curley High School, where he served as a guidance counselor and teacher (1979-1985) and principal (1985-1988). In 1980, he earned a Master of Arts degree in pastoral counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston. He served as principal of his alma mater of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonawanda from 1988 to 1989, when he became principal of St. Francis High School in Athol Springs. He received a Master of Education degree in Secondary Catholic School Administration from Boston College in 1992.
Following a three-month sabbatical at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, Bishop Hartmayer briefly served as an instructor at John Carroll Catholic High School in Fort Pierce, Florida, in 1995. In August of that year, he was named pastor of St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, Georgia. He became pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Lithia Springs, in July 2010.
On 19 July 2011, Bishop J. Kevin Boland of the Diocese of Savannah announced his retirement and Pope Benedict XVI appointed Hartmayer as the Bishop of the Diocese. His consecration took place on 18 October 2011, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia.
Biography of Bishop-elect Ildevert Mathurin Mouanga
Father Ildevert Mathurin Mouanga was born in Hamon (Kinkala) on 27 May 1966. He completed his primary and secondary studies in his home town. He later entered the Major Seminary “Cardinal Emile Biayenda” in Brazzaville for courses in philosophy and theology.
Later, he attended the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (2000-2004), where he obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture; and the Pontifical Urbaniana University (2004-2009), obtaining a Doctorate in Biblical Theology.
He was ordained a priest on 16 August 1998 for the Diocese of Kinkala. After his priestly ordination he undertook pastoral work in the Diocese from 1998-2000.
Following further studies in Rome, Father Mouanga served as Professor of Sacred Scripture and Director of Studies at the National Major Seminary Cardinal Emile Biayenda (2009-2013). Since 2014 he has been the Rector of the Seminary.