The city of Warri in Delta state will on February 9th 2023 witness the largest gathering of Christian faithful in and around the world in recent times, as the episcopal ordination and installation of the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. Anthony Ovayero Ewherido as the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Warri will take place.
Guests will fly in from all over the world to witness the great occassion and ordination of one of Warri’s finest Catholic Bishop.
The appointment of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Anthony Ewherido as Bishop of Warri Diocese by Pope Francis has been greeted with widespread jubilation across the Diocese and everyone awaits his episcopal ordination and installation ceremony with joyous anticipation.
Catholic sons and daughters of Warri Diocese across the globe will be returning home in their hundreds to grace the historic occasion. Likewise all priests of Warri Diocese in the Diaspora who have already indicated their interest to attend the august event.
Warri, as it is popularly described in local palace “non dey carry last”. Same is true with the advent of Christianity. Historically, Warri had very early contact with Christian missionaries. After the initial contact led by the Capuchins and Augustinian missionaries between the 15th and 18th centuries which made some converts, the exercise was not quite successful, owing to some factors. However, the missionary enterprise was reinvigorated in the 20th century led by the Fathers of the Society for Africa Mission (SMA) of the Irish Province. Apart from churches built, the missionaries established schools and hospitals which served the people and were also means of evangelisation.
Chapels and Churches were built to cater for the spiritual wellbeing of the students and villagers in the neighborhoods. It was such stations that gradually envolved into Parishes in some places, thus evangelisation and growth of the Church blossomed. Therefore, with a flourishing Christian community, His. Holiness, Pope Paul V1, created the Diocese of Warri from the then old Benin Diocese on March 10, 1964, with Bishop Lucas Nwaezeapu as the Diocesan Bishop. Since then, the Diocese has been governed by several Bishops which includes Most Rev Edmund Fitzgibbon, Most Rev. Richard Burke and lately by Most Rev. John Afareha, upon whose retirement Archbishop Augustine Akubeze was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese. Each of the above shepherd made their mark in the history of the Diocese. May God bless them and grant eternal repose to the dead.
As usual government functionaries, traditional rulers, professional bodies, the academia, youth bodies, women groups etc are all gearing up to join Christ’s faithful of Warri Diocese and the not less than sixty Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders across the country for the great event. God’s children will gather in their thousands to celebrate this precious gift of God to Warri Diocese. A red-letter day!
Similarly, corporates bodies and institutions around Warri/Effurun metropolis are already readjusting their schedules to free up that date as the twin cities will witness an unusual human and vehicular traffic that may impact on normal business schedules.
The Holy Martyrs of Uganda Minor Seminary, venue of the ceremony, and it’s adjoining Bishopscourt premises are already wearing a new look as the date draws nearer. There is something very significant about the Minor Seminary as venue of the ceremony. That was the first place of pastoral assignment where Msgr Anthony Ewherido served as head. He was the Rector (1988- 1992), two years after his priestly ordination and there he unleashed his youthful energies so dexterously and build a reputation of creativity, brilliance, discipline and pastoral commitment that endeared him to many, especially his homilies which resonated in the hearts of many and attracted worshippers from outside the seminary community who traveled long distances on Sundays to the Chapel to listen to his beautiful heart-piercing homilies. Rev. Fr. Silvanus Anamali, a highly respected senior brother of the presbyterium once described the era in these words: “People came from far and near to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” Indeed, at that time, in many homes across the Diocese, “Fr Tony is the Rector” was a common refrain and served as a badge of honour by which the Minor Seminary was rated very high.
Consequently, the Seminary witnessed unprecedented increase in entry and many of those who passed through him are doing very well today in different endeavours, and as priests. Meanwhile, the rise in the number of students necessitated the expansion of facilities and, Fr Ewherido in his characteristic creative thinking, looked around and found an asset lying nearby.
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