Nobody in the eastern part of Nigeria and in the other parts of the country will forget in a haste the remarkable and memorable event that took place in Nsukka Diocese five years ago when a real Nigerian with nationalist credentials, a global citizen with global affiliations, affections and associations, yet with an authentic and well-honed African ancestry, Very Rev. Msgr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah was consecrated and installed as the second Bishop of Nsukka Diocese on 4th July, 2013.
It is now five solid years that Most Rev. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah succeeded to the See of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, following the effective retirement of its pioneer Bishop, the Most Rev. Dr. Francis Emmanuel Ogbonnaya Okobo, on April 13, 2013
Five years ago, the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka moved from “Surgite Eamus Hinc” to “Volumus Iesum Videre”. This was indeed a positive movement in the right direction in which we found a credible link for transforming the church and society in Nsukka Diocese.
Five years ago saw the episcopal consecration of an enviable fruit from a deep-rooted stock from Imilike-Ani in Udenu Local Government Area, Enugu State. The stock was called to take over the shepherd baton from Most Rev. Dr. Francis Ogbonnaya Okobo and to rise up to the challenges of leading a people with variegated culture and orientations. With his high academic pedigree coupled with so many local and international experiences in the ministry before his appointment as the Chief Shepherd of Nsukka Diocese, no one doubted his capacity and capability since he already had a multi-faceted pastoral exposure.
It is now five years of transfer of baton of faith, geared towards sustaining the messianic mandate of John 21:17 – “feed my sheep”.
In order to show that he was in full grasp of the historical antecedents and the humble expectations of his people, Most Rev. Godfrey I. Onah chose an operational caveat that was not just ad rem to the religious plight of the people but methodically satisfied the spiritual desire of a people who were eager to rise from her dungeon of obnoxious cultural practices.
It was a motto of a highly-motivated spirit-filled visionary coated with emblem of consciousness that integrates all facets of wholistic human formation viz; religious, social, political and economical growth hence, “VOLUMUS IESUM VIDERE” – WE WANT TO SEE JESUS”. He chose this phrase taken from the request some Greeks made to the Apostle Philip in John 12:21. This phrase expresses not only a prayer but also a multi-directional project. The Bishop sees his episcopal ministry as an invitation to a closer and more profound personal encounter with Jesus. He also would like to take along with him in this spiritual journey all the faithful of Nsukka Diocese together with their culture.
For he believes that the redemptive encounter of a people and its culture with Jesus has liberating and invigorating effects. The motto is also a reminder to him and to all Christians that people expect to see Jesus in them.
Like a pirandallo, and a leader who knows the route, Bishop Onah for the past five years has been echoing his motto through various dimensions in his Episcopal apostolate. For the past five years, he has been calling the people of Nsukka and beyond to a profound spiritual motivation, faithful desire, zealous fight for the sake of the gospel, positive decisions, internal and external struggles, religious campaign launch, communal togetherness and freedom from evil machinations.
We want to see Jesus – is a humble appeal of a pastor who is not satisfied with the cultural, socio-political and religious status quo of a people enshrouded by darkness of the mind and spirit. It is a tremendous sonorous call waking up the slumbering darkened-communities to knit herself together and take the bull by the horn for renewal.
We want to see Jesus – is a positive revolutionary outcry that has to do with some positive deliberate actions geared towards growth and development. It therefore shuns redundancy. To this end, Bishop Godfrey I. Onah is a locomotive vibrant revolutionary who for the past five years has moved to almost all the corners of Nsukka challenging openly and squarely all kinds of devilish practices that negates the message of Christ and blurs our vision from being Christ-like.
Like the reputable ancient leaders and fathers of our faith, he has positively launched transforming attacks upon attacks to instil a true religious spirit and practices amongst the sheep entrusted to his care.
The people of Nsukka for the past five years have witnessed an administration that synchronizes reasonably with John Dewey’s progressive educational principles. A system that eschews minimalism, uncomfortable with mediocrity and laisser-faire attitude but progresses from one level to another. Such is his administration because it has been a continuum from what he received from Most Rev. Dr. Francis Ogbonnaya Okobo, Rev. Frs. James Mellet, Aloysius Muller, Vincent Davey, Joseph Horgan and other early missionaries.
In living out his motto, one finds in Father Godfrey Onah, a veritable instrument of transformational pastorship, a viable vehicle which he employed tactically to enhance the motivation, morale and performance of his followers through a variety of mechanisms.
Transformational pastorship entails connecting the flock’s sense of identity and self to the projects and task ahead and the collective identity of the entire operational body; being a role model for followers that inspires them and makes them interested, challenging followers to the greater ownership of their work and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers; so the leader can align followers with tasks that enhance performance.
As a true transforming agent, Bishop Onah’s episcopacy for the past five years has covered the full range of individual and collective consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealized influence.
Father Bishop for the past five years has created many parishes and centers of Worship, thus has brought the good news of Christ to every doorstep in Nsukka Diocese.
On another development within these five years, our gigantic cathedral project was not left out. The leaky roof has been fixed and standardized. The shaky foundations reinforced and consolidated. Presently, work has been going on and on with great gusto and vigour.
More so, the spiritual year housing project is still on alongside the printing press permanent site, purchase of some printing equipment and many other properties needed for diocesan sustenance and maintenance.
Much as this piece is not intended to enumerate comprehensively the list of the great achievements of Father Bishop, one may not be out of place to say that in Nsukka Diocese, priests, religious and lay faithful are simply happy and proud of the Catholic Church. We congratulate our Bishop and we wish him happier and more fruitful episcopate. NNA ANYI BISHOPU, JISIE IKE N’ORU!