As the crisis rocking the Ahiara Catholic Diocese, Ahiara, Mbaise in Imo State continues, the new Bishop, Peter Okpalaeke, has said he is waiting for his installation as the Bishop of the Diocese.
Okpaleke, who spoke last Tuesday during the 70th birthday ceremony of Very Rev. Monsignor (Prof) Johnbosco Akam at his Uga country home, Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, said he would not to be distracted from serving God by the crisis since his vocation was divinely ordained.
What they are saying is foreign to my vocation, my vocation comes from God. Once the church gives me an assignment, I gladly accept it, whatever comes, I see them as distractions as a priest,” he said.
Okpaleke continued: “I have been living my life as a fulfilled priest wherever I found myself as a priest. Surely, I will see God on the last day that is my mission”.
After the death of Bishop Victor Adibe Chikwe, Okpaleke was appointed as his successor but the priests from Ahiara Diocese resisted his being made the Bishop of the Diocese on the ground that he was not from the Diocese and that they have more than qualified priests that can be ordained Bishop. The priests have roundly resisted the installation of Okpaleke even with the Pope’s threat of sacking them.
Okpaleke thanked God for Monsignor Akam who turned 70, saying “it is a thing of thanksgiving to God for keeping him and using him to better the welfare of humanity”.
Rev. Father Elijah Sinde described Akam as a priest blessed with wisdom, saying: “Akam believes in the efficacy of prayers”.
God has crowned his suffering with love at 70 years to share his charity work with the less privileged. In their various remarks, the pioneer Vice Chancellor of Tansia University, Umunya, Prof. Nduka Uraih, who was the chairman of the occasion, paid glowing tribute to Akam and recalled that he did not know him when he came and started working as the VC in his university.
I did not come to this birthday party because I worked with him for five years or for the birthday but for his philosophical thoughts, he has passion for the poor. I came for an interview and was given the appointment. He didn’t know me, he doesn’t discriminate, he shares and interacts with anybody irrespective of where you come from, he said.
Earlier in his sermon during the church service, the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. (Dr.) Jonas Benson Okoye, urged all to emulate Akam by praying always to achieve their desires, adding that he made it through prayers and love for humanity.