Pope Francis on Thursday inaugurated the Diocese of Ekwulobia in Anambra State and appointed Most Rev Peter Okpaleke as its bishop.

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, announced the development at St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, Awka, Anambra State on Thursday.

Okpalaeke was some years back appointed the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese in Imo State but was rejected by the people of the area because he was not a native of the place.

But on Thursday Pope Francis erected him as the Bishop of the newly created Ekwulobia Diocese in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State.

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Ezeokafor, described the development as pleasant, joyful and gladening

He said the new Diocese was formed from a part of the territory of the Diocese of Awka made up of Akpu, Ekwuluobia and Achina Regions.

"We have written lots of letters in the past asking the Vatican City to give us two more dioceses, Ekwuluobia and Adazi. They were turned down. They asked us instead to apply for an auxiliary bishop which we did and Bishop Jonas Benson was appointed as an auxiliary bishop in the year 2014.

'We continued to push because in Awka Diocese we have the highest number of priests and Awka is too big for one person to handle even with an auxiliary bishop.

"We are glad for this great news. We thanked Pope Francis for this appointments, it is a great relief,' Bishop Ezeokafor stated.

Okpalaeke was ordained to the priesthood on 22 August 1990. On 7th December 2012, he was appointed bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ahiara.

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Unfortunately, local clergy and faithful objected to his appointment and prevented him from entering the cathedral in order to take possession of the Diocese.

Okpalaeke had to resign as the bishop of Ahiara Diocese and on 19 February 2018, Pope Francis accepted Okpaleke's resignation for peace to reign in the area


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