By Our Reporter
The new Bishop of Owerri Anglican Diocese, Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Chinekezi Oparah Ph.D, will be enthroned tomorrow as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese at the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL), Owerri.
This follows his consecration by the Archbishop Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, at the Cathedral Church of St. Bartholomew, Kubwa, Abuja, last Friday.
Bishop Oparah is preceded in office by Bishop G.E.I. Cockin (1959-1969), Bishop B.C. Nwankiti (1969-1998) and Bishop C.C. Okorocha (1998-2018).
A holder of the Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical studies, Rt. Rev. Oparah has held various positions in the Anglican Church, some of which include being the Chaplain to the first Bishop of Uyo, Most Rev. Emmanuel Ebenezar Nglass, when he was seconded in 1992 to the Diocese by the late Archbishop Benjamin Nwankiti of Owerri as a church teacher.
He returned to Owerri in 2004 under the immediate past Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Cyril Okorocha PhD. after having been ordained by Most Rev. Nglass in 1995.
Apart from performing his ecclesiastical duties, Bishop Oparah had held the position of Head of department of Civic and Social Issues at the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education (AIFCE) Owerri, Imo State.
A man of diverse divine apostolic gifts, Rt. Rev. Oparah could be described as a theologian, educationist pastor, teacher, church planter and an administrator.
He is a Jerusalem (JP) as well as a member of many professional bodies and has written many books and articles.
Rt. Rev. Chukwuma is married to Mrs Chidiebere Oparah, a lecturer at Federal Polytechnic Nekede and they are blessed with five children.
Meanwhile, some high profile members of the Diocese have reacted to the emergence of Dr. Chukwuma Oparah as the new Bishop of Owerri.
Speaking to Christian Voice, the Diocesan Lay Synod Secretary 11, Sir Soronnadi Unegbu expressed happiness that ‘after the rain, sunshine has come’.
He also pointed out that the entire Diocese is very happy and grateful to the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, who, he said, made good his promise not to translate any Bishop to the Diocese but to elect one from among the clergy of the Diocese.
The Lay Synod Secretary opined that the new Bishop knows the challenges, spiritually and otherwise, confronting the Diocese, being from Owerri Diocese.
“He knows the pattern. My expectation is that Owerri Diocese shall continue to remain as the mirror of Anglicanism throughout his episcopacy to the glory of God”, Sir Unegbu said.
Sir Unegbu said that, as a trained priest, the new Bishop, having passed through the rank and file of the church and risen to the position of an Archdeacon, will be able to take care of the spiritual needs of the church, which he described as a spiritual hospital.
He, however, advised him to always allow the holy spirit to guide and direct him.
A lecturer from the School of Education, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri, Dr. Mrs Grace Amadi simply expressed gratitude to God for the peace which has returned to Owerri Diocese.
She advised the new Bishop to see himself as a father and carry everybody, including the clergy and laity, along.
Another prominent member of the Diocese and a former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education Owerri, Associate Prof. Patience Oguoma, Ph.D, noted that Owerri Diocese was the mother of many other Diocese today.
She traced the biblical story of the anointing of David, son of Jesse, as king of Israel and opined that what happened was the will of God.
“If the election has God’s approval, no one should question it. We should accept God’s will”, she said.
Prof. Oguoma urged the entire Diocese to support the new Bishop so that the church will move forward.
She advised him to always recognize the fact that he did not enthrone himself and to depend fully on the word of God.
The former Dean also called on the new Bishop to embrace everyone in the Diocese, as a father.
Ven. Ozioma Ejiekpe, who is the Vicar of St. Peter’s Church, Umunjam Mbieri adviced the new Bishop to be conscious of time and the traditions of the church, adding that he should embrace everybody because ‘we are now his children’.
The Archdeacon of Umunjam Mbieri advised the new Bishop to implore some economic avenues to uplift the economic and financial standard of the diocese.
Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah was consecrated alongside two other Bishops last Friday.