Mbaise received the new Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Ugorji. The inaugural mass was emotion-laden. The episcopal hunger in Mbaise was so palpable. The unity, joy, enthusiasm and optimism could be felt from all angles. No more discord anywhere. The Cathedral was filled beyond capacity. Even the priests were looking for where to seat inside the church beyond the sanctuary. Top Mbaise political dignitaries were also present.

Umuahia priests, religious, Knights and faithful thronged here today, in solidarity with their beloved Bishop.

Bishop Ugorji assured Mbaise of pastoral visits, confirmation, ordination, Chrism mass et al. He also appointed a Vicar General on the spot, Rev. Fr Dr Ethelbert Uwadoka, who apparently wasn’t expecting that. Bishop Ugorji stressed on unity among Igbos, both church and state, especially in the present circumstances in Nigeria.


View Images & Read Welcome Address below




His Excellency, Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji

Bishop of Umuahia, Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise, Nigeria


·    Bishops of Owerri EcclesisticalProvince

·    The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria

·    Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, His Excellency, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi

·    Unspecified Recipients


Oh Bishop Lucius Ugorji: On the Wings of Eagles

Mbaise welcomes the Legend in the Making

(March 10, 2018)


The Agụ Na-Eche Mba of Mbaise

(Professor of New Testament Studies)

Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji

Your Quote: Don't quack like a duck, soar like an eagle - Ken Blanchard

Your Excellency, Bishop Ugorji!

On this day, March 10, 2018, we can sound the trumpet heralding your arrival in the great nation of Mbaise. Hence, using the words of Neil Armstrong, we say: “The Eagle has landed.” And, indeed, it is a great landfall. Hence, nwoko mara mma, with a beautiful Cathedral, ya gaziere gi! Udo diiri gi! May you succeed! As it is now, ugo eberele la mgbagbu! We are now in an “end time” situation. So, welcome to Mbaise, the land of ohuru obia agba nkwa! Welcome to the “orphan” diocese of Ahiara where you are now taking center stage. Welcome to this great nation called Mbaise, the home of Ahiara Diocese, the African Ireland of the Catholic faith.  

I was in your “Temple” last December. We toured round your Cathedral premises and toured the inside. While there, the crisis was on my mind. So, I knelt down and prayed, asking God: When will it be over? Thanks be to God that it is now about peace and reconciliation and not war. So, come to us and be with us as your friends as we are ready to receive you as our friend. Come through the door to meet us for the battle is over. What is now sounding is the “trumpet of peace.”

Some of us have quoted you as saying that you are the “embassy of peace” to the Mbaise Nation. Hence, we offer you the peace of the Mbaise Nation, the land of “ofo na ogu,” in the hope that you are the “bringer of justice and fairness.” From preliminary indications, you are a superstar in the making; a legend by God’s grace. But also we are in a situation where you are a bishop, who has his destiny in his own hands. Yes, you are on the doorsteps of history; on the verge of being a “colossus.” But the taste of the pudding is in the eating.

Your appointment as the interim administrator of Ahiara diocese on the 19th of February, 2018 is epoch-making because it stands between the war era and the peace era. While it celebrates the official end of the war, on the other hand, it also marks the beginning of the new era of “pastoral normalcy” in Ahiara Diocese. Hence, you are in an interregnum situation. You have come on eagle’s wings; may you go back also on eagle’s wings! You are on a freeway ride to the Commonwealth of Mbaise. May your final return journey also be hitch-free! We have reinforced the “bridge of friendship,” so walk across with confidence. We are waiting for you. However, as William Henry Hudson pointed out, bear in mind that “you cannot fly like an eagle with the wings of a wren [a small short-winged songbird]” This leads us to the correlative between your names and your mission.

 When a Name defines a Mission

Your Excellency: All your names – Lucius, Iwejuru and Ugorji - have relevance to your mission and have application to the universe of discourse. Hence, each element deserves a brief comment here since every one of them is considered ad rem. First, we begin with your first name Lucius, which is a Latin name derived from the Latin word Lux (genitive is lucis) and the English “Lux soap” is derived from this as well. This lux means light or illumination. It is also derived from the Latin verb lucere, which means to shine. Your Excellency, no wonder your face is “illuminating” and “radiating” with light. We know that the moon, the star, and the sun are sources of light. Hence, be the sun that lights up Mbaise by day; the moon that shines over Mbaise by night; and the “star” of the Mbaise people in the end at the completion of your legendary mission. May this light shine upon us so that there will be no more darkness in Mbaiseland. May it dispel the darkness of the past! So, “Big Brother Lucius,” BE OUR LIGHT. May the impact of your name be felt positively by the Mbaise people.

Next, in the Old Testament, Lucius is also mentioned in the First Book of Maccabees. Here, he was a Roman consul, who wrote a letter to Ptolemy Euergetes and secured the high-priesthood for Simon the High Priest. He also secured the protection of Rome for the Jews. 1Maccabees presented this Lucius in this way: "Lucius, consul of the Romans, to King Ptolemy, greetings. The envoys of the Jews have come to us as our friends and allies to renew our ancient friendship and alliance. They had been sent by the high priest Simon and by the Jewish people” (1 Maccabees 15:16-17). Now, Oh Bishop Lucius, we have come to you as our friend and ally to renew our ancient friendship and alliance which began with “Saint Bishop Victor Chikwe.” And now let us look up this name in the New Testament.

First, Lucius is found in Romans in this way: “Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews” (Romans 16:21). As we can see, Lucius was a fellow worker of Paul. Also, he sent greetings to the Roman Church as Your Excellency is now sending greetings to the church in Ahiara. Further, like Your Excellency, tradition has it that this Lucius was ordained bishop of the church of Cenchreae, where Romans 16:1 told us about Phoebe, the deaconess of the church in Cenchreae.

Lucius is thought by some to be the same with the Lucius of Cyrene in Acts. In this regard, in the church at Antioch which sent out Barnabas and Saul as its missionaries Lucius of Cyrene was among several prophets and teachers mentioned here. The relevant text reads: “Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:1-3). As we can see, Lucius was among the prophets and teachers of Antioch. We hope that you will not only be a teacher but also a prophet, displaying courage and impartiality in the FINAL ACT.

 Further, your middle name is IWEJURU, literally, may anger cool down. Hence, we hope that you have come ka iwe wee juru, ka onumajuru! And finally, your surname is UGORJI. Hence, you are now taking your position as the IROKO TREE among us, depending on the final outcome of your mission. There will be some attempts to prevent this from happening. In this regard, beware of your advisers. Remember that “bad advice is often most fatal to the adviser” (Aulus Persius Flaccus). As Sophocles pointed out, always remember that “there is nothing more hateful than bad advice.” As you proceed to do your work, the “Golden Rule” will always be good advice. Hence, do to the Mbaise people as you would want them to do unto you. One of the lessons of the “war years” is that “life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late” (Benjamin Franklin). Above all, may this wisdom of Solomon guide you: “I prayed, and understanding was given me; I called on God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her to scepters and thrones, and I accounted wealth as nothing in comparison with her” (Wisdom 7:7-8). Now, let us go to the avian world.

The Eagle and the Pelican

And now, Your Excellency: There is a choice here on offer for you as you begin this “sacred journey” to Mbaiseland. You could either be exclusively an eagle or be both a pelican and partially an eagle. The better option would be to be a pelican, but soar like an eagle. Why are we making this association between these two birds? Now, this writing moves to the avian world beginning with the pelican bird.

As you know, the pelican has a great Christian symbolism. It is an avian metaphor for selflessness. In this regard, she is known for feeding her young even to the point of sacrificing her own blood by wounding her own breast when no other food was available. This is the epitome of maternal care and the “crescendo” of selfless love. And in doing this, the pelican is not interested in whether it benefits her, but whether it benefits her children.

One more thing here: There is also another folktale that described how a pelican killed her young by rough treatment. However, she was so contrite that she resurrected them with her own blood by “vulning” (from Latin vulno - to wound) or wounding herself. In this way, the pelican came to symbolize the “Passion of Jesus and the Eucharist.” We can see this in the hymn of Saint Thomas Aquinas “Adoro te devote” or “Humbly We Adore Thee.” Here, Christ is described as the "loving divine pelican, able to provide nourishment from his breast.” Once more, the emphasis is not on what the PELICAN gets, but on what would benefit her children. This self-sacrifice is a kind of “self immolation” in order to benefit the other. Your Excellency: Sind Sie bereit fuer diese heilige Aufgabe (German) – Are you ready for this holy assignment? This “Pelican Road” seems to be the easiest road to the Promised Land. And this will be an “express way” for you; without a roller coaster. And above all, the road would not be “bumpy.” This is your best and most ideal route. Nonetheless, there is also an alternative that might prove costly. Let us review it briefly.

The Eagle’s Way

In the avian world, the eagle has two obvious advantages over the other birds. First, it has faster flight and flies more direct and higher than any other bird. Hence, eagles normally build their nests in tall trees or on high cliffs. This makes them “unreachable.”  Your Excellency: Would you build your “nest” so far away? As Ronald Reagan once said, “an actor knows two important things - to be honest in what he is doing and to be in touch with the audience. That's not bad advice for a politician either.” And certainly, it is not bad advice to you. Being in touch with the people is the key to your success.  Second, the eagle sees farther than the other birds giving it advantage over the its prey. In this regard, eagles' eyes are extremely powerful. The eye of an eagle is more than twice as long as a human eye, with a visual acuity of 3.0 to 3.6 times that of humans. This acuity enables eagles to spot potential prey from a very long distance. Your Excellency could develop the eyes of “foresight” from this quality.

However, the downside to these is that eagles are apex predators. They are birds of prey with very large, hooked beaks for ripping flesh from their prey. The beak is typically heavier than that of most other birds of prey. Many species lay two eggs. In connection with this, one of the strange things about eagles is that the older, larger chick frequently kills its younger sibling once it has hatched. Unlike the pelican, the parents take no action to stop the killing.

The prey of eagles include: fish, other birds. The snake and serpent eagles prey on the great diversity of snakes. They are often the top birds of prey in open habitats, taking almost any medium-sized vertebrate they can catch. These eagles often target various ground-dwelling mammals and birds. Here, we can see that the eagle is a nemesis of a sort. Sure enough, Your Excellency would distaste this role in dealing with us.

Eagles are too heavy for effective aerial pursuit but try to surprise and overwhelm their prey on the ground. Like owls, many decapitate their kills. It is our hope that Your Excellency is not on a decapitating mission, no matter how subtle.

Because of their strength, eagles have been a symbol of war and imperial power since Babylonian times. Eagles do not mix with other birds but only enjoy flying at their high altitude. An eagle will never surrender to the size or strength of its prey. It is this characteristic that makes eagles unique birds. Your Excellency: Do you want to be an eagle that has come to devour our nation and accomplish what the Trojan horse could not accomplish?

Our candid advice to you would be: Fly like the eagle, but work like a pelican. Work with the people and dialogue with them. Think about what will be good for Ahiara Diocese and not what would necessarily be good for you alone. In this place, do not try to sacrifice Mbaise on the altar of appeasement when the ternus would be submitted. Potentially, that could be a “breaking point” or a “boiling point.” And that is when we shall know for certain whether you are a pelican or an eagle. Remember that “wife swap” is not allowed. And on this “traffic lane” overtaking is not allowed. So, we are waiting and watching. Hence, we ask:

Are you the one we have been waiting for?

Are you the Pelican or the Eagle?

Are you the comforter of an “Orphan Diocese?

Are you the redeemer?

Are you the wonder worker of our dreams?

Are you the one to put the last part of the smile on us?

Are you the one to finally wipe out our tears?


One of the temptations facing you in your ministry in Mbaise might be to apply the principle of “divide and rule” in order to weaken the people. Consciously or unconsciously, you might be tempted to adapt it by surrounding yourself with a “manipulatable clique” of “yes, my lord members,” who may not be representative of the people. At least, the war has taught the Church in Nigeria that Mbaise is made up of “home and abroad,” to use that betraying phrase that exonerated the Pope from the Agenzia Publication of July 9, 2018. Try hard not to use Umu Mbaise against Umu Mbaise.

Our Expectations

There is a threefold expectation during your stay with us.

·                      First, the ordination question and related issues.

·                      Second, confirmation.

·                      Third, the selection of a bishop elect for Ahiara Diocese.

On this point, we would not like to be sacrificed on the “Altar of Appeasement.” A seat for Mbaise at the Episcopal table is NON NEGOTIABLE. It is important for you to resist any attempt by anybody to use you to get at us. We are watching carefully in this direction to see whether you are the instrument of peace, or the instrument of appeasement and indirect punishment. In this case, this would be another Trojan horse situation. We have danced this music before.

Here, it is our intention to remind you of what has been on the table. From our standpoint, two options are on the table. First, a priest of Ahiara presbyterium, like you were chosen from the presbyterium of Umuahia Diocese. And second, a priest from Mbaise. OUR POSITION ON THIS HAS NOT CHANGED IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM. Any thing less will be seen by the people as PUNISHMENT. It is our belief that you would not want to be this instrument of punishment. Otherwise, you could be seen as “Bishop Punish Them.” We would not want you to play this role.

Meanwhile, your readiness to listen and dialogue is already making a difference, believe me. Hence, approach your mission as the “messenger of peace” and not as the “Bishop of Umuahia.” Don’t rule the people, serve them; don’t ignore them, work with them; don’t be unilateral, be open and discuss with them. This will be a great ventilator to avoid the accumulation of heat that would begin to create tension all over.

Areas of Concern

While we welcome you, I do not want to say that there are no areas of concern. In this regard, the Bishop John Ayah syndrome is one of them. As we know, Bishop John Ayah of Uyo diocese was first ordained bishop of Ogoja diocese on January 6, 2007. When Bishop Joseph Effiong Ekuwem, now Archbishop Ekuwem, ceased to be the bishop of Uyo due to his elevation as the Archbishop of Calabar on February 2, 2013, had temporary administration of Uyo Diocese from Ogoja. Later, Bishop Ayah was transferred from Ogoja to Uyo to become the Bishop of Uyo on July 5, 2014. And here comes the catch. Now in Uyo, he was simultaneously made the apostolic administrator of Ogoja on the same July 5, 2014. He continued as the apostolic administrator of Ogoja diocese until the 7th of July 2017, the same day  Donatus Edet Akpan was made the bishop of Ogoja. This is a worrying template vis-à-vis the Mbaise situation. We will be keeping our eyes on this situation. John Ebebe Ayah was the apostolic administrator of Ogoja for three years. The fear is that anything can happen. Hence, it will be important for you to move swiftly to allay this fear; begin to assure the people that this will not be the case and that your stay will be a short one.

Indeed, this experiment with Bishop John Ayah of Uyo gives us a pause, and forces us still to sleep with one eye open. It is helping to reduce our comfort level.This keeps us on the watch. The longer you stay, the more it looks like this is an assignment “sine die.” However, the shorter your stay, the better for all of us. Remember that “o ji mmadu n’ala, ji onwe ya.” So, the earlier, the better. Kindly make this pro tempore a short period of time. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” You were appointed apostolic administrator pro tempore. This becomes the map of time involved in this mission. After six months, there may begin to be rumbling and murmuring. The “polity” may begin to be overheated again. Though, the danger of “explosion” has drastically subsided but not totally eliminated. Meanwhile, let us believe that a “Daniel has come to judgment.”

Tribute to the Deacons and Seminarians of Ahiara Diocese

Oh deacons and seminarians of Ahiara Diocese: You are our heroes; the monument of patience and endurance. You are the best and finest. The hour has finally come. And the old adage, “he who laughs last, laughs best,” applies wholesale in your own case. You are on the verge of liberation. It is now daybreak, because the darkness of the night has been dispelled. So, beloved deacons and seminarians, in Isaianic fashion, WEEP NO MORE for “your sins” have been atoned. During the war years, I always gave you and the great nation of Mbaise consolation in these prophetic and reassuring words of Isaiah:

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. 9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:6-9).

And now the Lord Almighty has prepared for you and the Mbaise people a feast of rich food, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. And on this mountain of Isaiah the Lord will destroy the shroud that enfolds you and our people. Indeed, the Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all our faces. Now, he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. And now we will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” I share in your sigh of relief that the days of sorrows will soon be completely over.

The Mbaise Nation

This is the appointed time. This is our moment. We have to seize it. Hereby, we are called upon to cooperate with our new apostolic administrator, His Excellency, Bishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, the Bishop of Umuahia Diocese. Let us believe that he is Cyrus the Great, who liberated the Israelites from the yoke of the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar. According to the Bible, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the Babylonian captivity ended. In the first year of his reign he was prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalemshould be rebuilt and that such Jews as cared to might return to their land for this purpose/ And Isaiah presented this figure in these words: “Cyrus, I am sending for you by name. I am doing it for the good of the family of Jacob. They are my servant. I am doing it for Israel. They are my chosen people. You do not know anything about me. But I am giving you a title of honor” (Isaiah 45:4). Let us be patient with him. No matter how easy the work looks like, it will not be that easy. There is accumulated work to be done. Only by cooperating with him can a roller coaster be avoided. In the spirit of “ohuru obia agba nkwa” let us welcome him as friend and partner in this “peace project.” Let us accord him all the respect he deserves.

The process of reconciliation has started. However, it is an ongoing process. We must now do everything without bitterness, while staying humble. We are now UMU MBAISE. Both Fr. Austin Ekechukwu and Fr. Clement Ebi must now hold hands together because “no more wars.” We have to show the world our “Mbaiseness.” We have to show that we are a unique nation on earth. Let us beg for pardon and forgiveness from one another. If any of you has wronged me, I HAVE FORGIVEN. And for those I might have wronged, in the manner, KINDLY FORGIVE ME. Let there be no more rancor and bitterness. Let us showcase our oneness from now forward. Hence, the marching order now is: Forward ever, backward never.

Final Thoughts
 In her “Letter to My Daughter,” Maya Angelou wrote:  “try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.” In our context, kindly be a rainbow to the Mbaise people. Kindly bear these words of Buddha in mind: “There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” Remember, as Muhammad Ali once said, “he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” As Psalm 37:30, remember that “the mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.” There will be gossips. But remember that “a smart man only believes half of what he hears, a wise man knows which half (Jeff Cooper).

Summarily, Your Excellency: There are two possible ways that could be used to characterize your relationship with the Mbaise people. The first is to present yourself as one, who is coming with authority carrying with you the full weight of the miter and crosier. This would create the situation of Mbaise versus Bishop Ugorji, as if in another “wrestling contest.” This would create a “partnership of discord and acrimony,” which could lead to resentment, and tension would begin to rise. We don’t want the clock to be rolled back. WE WANT TO MOVE FORWARD. We would not want you to be an eagle to the people. Kindly do not forget that whatever happens locally in Mbaise affects other Umu Mbaise all around the world. WE WILL BE WATCHING.

And the second is to present yourself as one who is coming as the servant of the people; a pelican. This would be consistent with this advice that Jesus gives you now: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45). This would lead to the characterization of your mission as a situation of Mbaise and Bishop Ugorji, which would create a partnership of peace and a “brotherhood of love.” As William Butler Yeats once said, “think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”

And now, let us give you the chance to conclude this writing in your own words: “We should keep in mind that Church Law does not provide for “quota system” or consideration for “place of origin” in the appointment of Bishops. However, given the strong ethnic sensitivities in certain areas, and considering that Church unity, which does not necessarily imply uniformity, gives room for diversity, some respectable persons are of the opinion that a process that takes into consideration the principles of “equity”, “fairness” and “balancing” in Episcopal appointments may be a way of giving a sense of belonging to a people in a particular situation and forestalling agitation” (homily delivered by Most Rev Lucius Ugorji, the Bishop of Umuahia Diocese at the Episcopal ordination of Most Rev. Peter Okpaleke on May 21, 2013). You are the Latin lux, (light), so lead with this light so that the people can see. Finally, nna anyi bishop, nwoko mara mma, biko, jisie ike, nyere mmuo aka, ka o ree.  I have the premonition that you would fly back on eagle’s wings. Laudetur Iesus Christus – Praise the Lord!



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