Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
At his appointment on Wednesday, March 31, as the Bishop-elect of Nebbi diocese in Uganda, Monsignor Raphael p’Mony Wokorach a member of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (MCCJ) has accepted the Holy Father’s appointment saying, “Our life can never be static.”
In a communiqué by the Apostolic Nuncio in Uganda Archbishop Luigi Bianco, announcing the episcopal appointment for a diocese that has been vacant since November 2018, the Prelate has congratulated the new Bishop-elect and thanked Rev. Msgr. Emmanuel Odaga who has been the Diocesan Administrator of Nebbi for his generous service.
In an interview with AMECEA Online, very Rev. Wokorach who until his appointment has been the Pontifical Commissary for the Kenya-based Religious Missionary Congregation of the Apostles of Jesus (AJ) since June 2018 after being appointed by Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) disclosed his reaction towards the new mission saying, “we can never work to finish…and my vocation has always reminded me that our life can never be static.”
He recounts that in his ministry as a priest, history has been repeating itself more or less the same way. In his pattern of life he observes, “Whenever I begin to get used to what I am doing, it gets interrupted, and I am now reading interruption in-depth knowing that mission is not static but it keeps coming and going.”
The Bishop-elect who is also the former Vice Provincial of the MCCJ Kenyan Province narrated that his appointment as the Bishop of Nebbi Diocese has provoked in him “mixed feelings” since he has not accomplished his mission with the members of the AJ Institute.
“I started working with AJ’s when I had some doubts, not so sure of how things would unfold but right now I am settling into it, there is some sense of confidence. After working over the years, I see there is a direction and plan, something that gives more sense of comfort and fulfilment but now it has been interrupted before it’s finished,” Msgr. Wokorach explained and expressed “this is where I experience the mixed feeling.”
Besides, he continued, “I also see the faces of those I am trying to help (members of AJ) and I know they would be having the same question of what would be the next step, and actually it gives the sentiment of uneasiness.”
According to the Msgr. who carried out apostolic visit for the Institute of the Apostles of Jesus for two years since 2015 prior to the Vatican’s creation of the Commissariat team to implement and give direction to the congregation of the Apostles of Jesus in terms of governance, Very Rev. Wokorach has been “looking forward to seeing a better ending in the mission with the AJ’s.”
The Bishop-elect who was ordained over two decades ago in Nebbi Diocese where he is going to serve as a Shepherd disclosed that he will consult and dialogue with the people of Nebbi so that together they can plan and see the clear line of administration and evangelization in the diocese that has “19 parishes and about half a million Catholics.”
As a consolation, Msgr. Wokorach underscored, “The diocese was evangelized by the Comboni missionaries and the old parishes were founded by the Comboni’s and that means we can touch-base easily.
Additionally, “The thought that some people among the Comboni missionaries still have memories for Nebbi Diocese gives me a deep sense of comfort,” the former Chair of the governing council of Kenya-based Catholic institution of higher learning; Tangaza University College (TUC) and also the former formator in MCCJ Theologate expressed.
The Bishop-elect has asked for prayers and promised the same to the people of Nebbi and all Christians asking for unity that the “Church is one, the Mystery is one, the goal is one and wherever we are we should all feel united.”
Speaking on behalf of the clergy, religious and laity of Nebbi Catholic diocese, Msgr. Odaga who has been serving as the Diocesan Administrator since February 2019 when Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok was transferred to Uganda’s Lira diocese shared with AMECEA Online that the Christians have “received the news with joy and excitement,” and that the Bishop-elect has been “warmly welcome into the diocese.”
Msgr. Odaga has promised his support and collaboration saying, “I assure the Bishop-elect prayers, loyalty and cooperation in all aspects and we receive him with open arms and a positive attitude.”
He has further urged the Christians of Nebbi Diocese to keep being “united and cooperative,” trusting that they will prepare well for the Bishop’s consecration.