Consecration Of The Bishop Of Nebbi Catholic Diocese – Highlights Of The Speeches
The recent 14th August 2021 episcopal ordination of Bishop Raphael P’Omony Wokrach as the new Bishop of Nebbi Catholic Diocese in Uganda was attended by various religious and civil dignitaries. Below are highlights of the speeches that were delivered at the occasion:
1. The Rt Rev. Lino Sancto Wanok (former bishop)
Bishop Wanok expressed joy for the event of the day and congratulated everybody upon this historic moment in the diocese. He emphasised that one can apply to be a priest but not so for the position of bishop. Referring to the anointment of David by Samuel, Bishop Wanok said one cannot be anointed unless the spirit of the Lord falls on him. Although Jese presented his elder sons before Samuel, he refused to anoint any of them because God wanted David. He therefore congratulated Bishop Raphael p’Omony Wokrach, the newest bishop.
He recalled that when he himself first became bishop, he did not know much. But he can now speak with authority. He pointed out the importance of Jesus’ crucifixion, saying many people were afraid of the cross but it’s the basis of the day’s celebration. He likened Bishop Wokrach’s position to being crucified on the cross. He emphasised that the episcopate was about gathering the people of God, counselling and reconciling them.
Bishop Wanok reiterated that the bishop’s duty is to fight a spiritual battle. This he does with the help of the priests and religious. He thanked Fr Emmanuel for holding fort in the diocese for the two and a half years. He urged the priests not to relax, saying God is a God of surprises.In his conclusion, he expressed sadness at reports of the presence of rebels in Nebbi, and urged the people to always work for peace.
2. HE Archbishop Luigi Bianco (Apostolic Nuncio)
The Apostolic Nuncio congratulated the new bishop up on his ordination and the trust bestowed on him by the Holy See. He was glad that his first visit to the diocese was to witness the consecration of a new bishop.
He emphasised the importance of the Holy Eucharist, saying it was the basis of the faith that we profess as Christians.
The nuncio applauded the role played by the Comboni Missionaries in evangelising Africa. He emphasised the missionaries, who marked a hundred years of service, had played a big role in spreading the word of God.
He thanked the previous bishops John Baptist Odama, Martin Luluga and Lino Sancto Wanok, for the work they did in the diocese.
3. His Grace Most Rev. John Baptist Odama
He began by congratulating and thanking God for his providence. He also congratulated the Catholic Church, the Uganda Episcopal Conference and the Pope for succeeding to get a bishop for Nebbi.
Archbishop Odama thanked the Comboni Missionaries who brought Christ to northern Uganda. He referred to them as ‘our ancestors in faith’. He thanked other religious leaders present and emphasised the warm relationship he enjoys with Archbishop emeritus Luke Orombi, of the Anglican Church. He said they followed in each other’s footsteps of becoming bishop and archbishop.
He introduced the bishops present, among whom was the bishop of Mahagi Diocese in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He thanked the president for donating a car to the new bishop to facilitate his movement.
He re-echoed his inaugural speech in 1996 when he was consecrated bishop. He reminded the people of the acronym he had coined for the nama Nebbi. N-new, E-era, B-be, B-born, I-indeed. He emphasised that Nebbi was a place of peace. He said that Nebbi has the largest cathedral in the country, with a capacity of 3000 people.
He concluded by thanking Monsignor Odaga for the great stewardship of the diocese in the absence of a substantive bishop.
4. The Rt Rev. Raphael p’Omony Wokorach (New Bishop of Nebbi)
Bishop Wokorach praised God for the long awaited day. He thanked all those who had playd a role in ensuring the success of the day, from the COC (Central Organising Committee to those who cleaned the cathedral). He made reference to the day’s feast day, St Maximillian of Colby. He said the decision to hold the ordination in the cathedral shows that God wants people to continue worshipping him in his House, despite the pandemic.
He recalled that August 14th was a special day in his life. On that very day in 1994, he started his first missionary duty in Kinshasa. He appreciated the mentorship of Bishop Emeritus Martin Luluga, who first sent him to the minor seminary in Nyapea and later ordained him priest in 1993.
He thanked the president for his message and said he was eagerly awaiting the president’s call as promised by the minister. He welcomed the president’s gift of a car but made an appeal to the president to ensure that the roads in Nebbi are good.
Bishop Wokorach paid tribute to his predecessors. He thanked Bishop Odama, who is celebrating 25 years of episcopate together with the diocese, having been the founding bishop. He said the honour he has received from the Pope is a tribute to the people of Nebbi.
He revealed that he had asked five Bishops to be present at his ordination for specific reasons, although only four turned up. Archbishop Odama (the main consecrator) came in his capacity as the metropolitan of Northern Uganda and the first bishop of Nebbi. Archbishop Binaco came as the representative of the Pope. Bishop Giuseppe (of Kotido) came as a representative of the Comboni family, to which Bishop Wokorach belongs. Bishop Wanok came as his immediate predecessor, whom he referred to as his ‘Elijah’, while he (Bishop Wokorach) was ‘Elisha’. Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa of Kiyinda Mityana (who was unable to come), was to represent the Uganda Episcopal Conference.
Bishop Wokorach said he has been a priest for 28 years, but mainly serving in foreign missions. He recalled some of the turbulent times he had encountered, particularly in Kisangani when there was war. But in all these situations, he had kept the faith.
He paid tribute to Bishop St Daniel Comboni, whom he said he draws inspiration from. He emphasised that the work laid by Bishop Comboni continues to flourish to the present day. He said he had chosen as his motto: “Service with humility”, which was to guide him in serving God’s people.