Pope Francis Appoints Bishops for Dioceses
of Nebbi in Uganda, Lafia in Nigeria
Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Raphael p’Mony Wokorach as the Local Ordinary of Uganda’s Nebbi Diocese and Fr. David Ajang as the Bishop of Lafia Diocese in Nigeria.
In his Wednesday, March 31 communiqué obtained by ACI Africa, the Apostolic Nuncio in Uganda, Archbishop Luigi Bianco announced the Holy Father’s appointment of Comboni Missionary Fr. Wokorach as the new Bishop of Nebbi Diocese.
The Diocese of Nebbi has been vacant since the November 2018 transfer of Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanokhe to Uganda’s Diocese of Lira.
The Holy Father’s representative in Uganda congratulated the Bishop-elect and thanked Mons. Emmanuel Odaga “for his generous service as Diocesan Administrator.”
Speaking to ACI Africa soon after the news of his episcopal appointment was made public, the Bishop-elect of Uganda’s Nebbi Diocese said that the decision to appoint him is a sign that God is guiding his Priestly ministry, reminding “me of what I should do to make people access God.”
He described his elevation to episcopate as part of his participation in “the Priesthood of Christ,” explaining, “In the Priesthood of Christ I see one thing: being closer to the people because we work hard to bridge the gaps, the separation, which may be a reality in the Church or the ministry.”
“The Priesthood also requires discipline, which transforms this life so that we may day by day be worthy to offer the sacrifice and make the people accessible to God. By being closer to God, we also make people access God,” the Ugandan Bishop-elect told ACI Africa March 31.
Born in January 1961 in Uganda’s Diocese of Arua, Fr. Wokorach was ordained a Priest in September 1993 by the then Bishop of Nebbi Diocese, Martin Luluga.
Since his ordination, the Bishop-elect has served as Parish Priest in Uganda; missionary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); Bursar of the Comboni Community in DRC’s Kisangani Archdiocese; and formator of the Comboni Postulants in DRC.
The holder of a Master’s Degree in Philosophy has also served as a missionary in Togo and formator of Comboni Postulants in the West African country; missionary in Chicago in the U.S., and formator at the Nairobi-based Comboni International Theologate.
The Ugandan-born Cleric has also served as lecturer at Kenya-based Tangaza University College, member of the Provincial Council of Kenya and Vice Provincial, and Apostolic Visitor of the Religious Missionary Institute of the Apostles of Jesus (AJ) – from 2015-2018.
On 21 June 2018, Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) appointed Fr. Wokorach as the Pontifical Commissary of the Kenya-based AJ.
His appointment followed a three-year inquiry into the life of the members of the Institute launched in 2015 under the overall guidance of CICLSAL’s Joao Braz Cardinal Aviz, which revealed anomalies around leadership, the handling of material property, community living, formation, and fidelity to a life of vows.
In a June 2018 decree, the Vatican Dicastery prohibited AJ’s “admission of new members to the Novitiate and to temporary and perpetual religious profession, and the suspension of diaconal ordinations."
The decree also announced the closure of AJ Seminaries as well as the verification of "the economic and financial system, helping the members to lead a life according to the vow of poverty, based on the constitution."
In his role as AJ’s Pontifical Commissary, Fr. Wokorach had been mandated by the Holy See to oversee the process of internal reforms and re-organization of the life of the members and of 51-year-old Institute founded by two Comboni Missionary clerics, Bishop Sixtus Mazzoldi and Fr. John Marengoni in Moroto, Uganda for the purpose of evangelizing Africa and the world.
In their 24 April 2020 co-signed letter, Fr. Wokorach and the Secretary to the Pontifical Commissariat, Sr. Eugenia Campara, clarified that the decree by CICLSAL was not meant “to close or suspend” the Kenya-based Religious Order but to begin a process of its rehabilitation and reform.
In Uganda’s Nebbi Diocese, which is under the patronage of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Bishop-elect Wokorach will be expected to oversee the pastoral care of an estimated 528,178 Catholics spread across 5,098 square kilometers, according to 2018 statistics.
Erected as a Diocese in February 1996, the Ugandan Diocese is under the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Gulu.
Meanwhile, the Holy Father has appointed Fr. David Ajang as the new Bishop of Nigeria’s Lafia Diocese, which has been vacant since the January 2020 appointment of Bishop Matthew Ishaya Audu as the Archbishop of the country’s Jos Archdiocese.
Born in Nigeria’s Zaria Diocese in March 1970, Fr. Ajang was ordained a Priest in December 1994 and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Jos.
After ordination, the Nigerian-born Bishop-elect held various positions among them as Parish Vicar, Vocations Director of Archdiocese of Jos, Youth Chaplain of the same Archdiocese; Administrator of the Our Lady of Fatima Cathedra, Jos; and as formator at Saint Augustine’s Major Seminary in Jos.
Since 2012, the Bishop-elect has served as member of the college of consultors of the Archdiocese of Jos; Chaplain of the Governor of the State of Plateau since 2015; Parish Priest of the Immaculate Conception Parish and Dean of Zaramaganda in Jos since 2018.
“He's a very dedicated and caring priest; he has been a lecturer in Unijos (Federal University of Jos) and holds many other posts," Sr. Bernadette Eyewan Okure, the Community Leader of Jos Communities of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) said after learning of Fr. Ajang’s appointment.
In a March 31 Facebook post, the leadership of the Catholic Broadcast Commission of Nigeria (CBCN) congratulated Fr. Ajang and wished him “more wisdom and knowledge” in all his endeavors.
Erected in December 2000, Lafia Diocese has an estimated 265,561 Catholic population spread across 28,500 square kilometers, according to 2018 statistics.
The Nigerian Diocese, which is under the patronage of St. William, falls under the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Abuja.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa