By Ikechukwu Odu
The 5,500-capacity building of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka would be dedicated Thursday. The chair is considered the largest in all of West Africa.
The dignitaries expected to honor the dedication of the building are the governors of Southeastern Nigeria and the Catholic bishops, among others.
The cathedral, which was started in 1991 by the bishop emeritus of the diocese, Most Reverend Francis Okobo, was completed by the titular bishop, Most Reverend Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, after 29 years of serious work on the project.
The Vicar General of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Amuluche Greg Nnamani, made the statement yesterday at the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Teresa, Nsukka, adding that adequate arrangements have been implemented to ensure compliance with all the security protocols established by the World Health Organization, WHO, the Nigerian Center for Diseases. Control, NCDC and other regulatory agencies to control the spread of the coronavirus during the event.
He also said that “Francis Emmanuel Ogbonnaya Okobo, the bishop emeritus of the Diocese began the construction of the cathedral. He was consecrated first bishop of the cathedral on January 6, 1991 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, and installed on February 2, 1991.
Okobo reigned until April 13, 2013, when Pope Francis appointed Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, second bishop of the diocese of Nsukka. Under his episcopate, the cathedral would be dedicated. It is a joyous thing and we give glory to Almighty God for making it possible.
“We thank the faithful Catholics of the Diocese of Nsukka, people of good spirit, especially Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, and the organizations that supported the massive project.
“This cathedral after the dedication will represent the image of Nsukka,” he said.
While speaking extolling the sacrifices made by the Catholic community, he said that the Nsukka Catholic Parish, which started in 1932, now has 197 parishes, adding that it became a diocese in 1990.
He also said: “The construction of the cathedral began in 1991. Since then, it has been a gradual but continuous effort on the part of the Catholic community. We had the challenge of financing the great project, so the then Bishop Okobo designed a way to get the faithful to contribute to the project. He assigned a Sunday of the year that he called Sunday of Support to the Diocesan Project. Every kobo that noticed him was funneled into the cathedral building.
“He also organized a fundraising program that took place every Easter. All wealthy Nsukka Indians were invited. So much money was raised, but it still wasn’t enough to complete the cathedral. In that condition the new bishop arrived. He saw the task as terrifying because the building is huge.
“Technically, there were some mistakes, even the roof was blown off at some point. Even the floor of the church was vibrating in places because the cathedral has an underground compartment. The situation was unsettling for the new bishop and he halted all work on the building until he assembled a team of experts who reviewed the architecture of the cathedral and made some adjustments.
“And there was the challenge of raising funds for the completion. The Bishop, therefore, diverted all funds made during pastoral visits to the building. There was also the cathedraticum when the faithful arrive to thank the bishop and make donations. The bishop invested all the funds obtained in this project.
“We have invited the Catholic bishops and who’s who in the Catholic Church for the dedication of the cathedral. We also invited governors from the southeast and other high-ranking political figures in Nigeria for this dedication; including people of other faiths, ”he said.