– By Rev. Fr. Charles Chinedu Ezeonu (Bishop’s Personal Secretary/Assistant)
The Catholic Bishop of Enugu Most Rev. Callistus Onaga and his Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Ernest Obodo played hosts to the Apostolic Nuncio to Czech Republic, His Grace Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo.
The Nuncio was welcomed by the bishops and some members of the Curia in the Bishop’s House at Independence Layout Enugu on Monday 23rd October 2023.
The Nuncio who recently celebrated his 40th priestly anniversary and 15 years of episcopacy at St.Cletus Parish Nnewi had also scheduled to inaugurate the 2023/2024 Formation Year for Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu.
Sequel to this, the Nuncio visited the Chief Shepherd of Enugu Diocese and his priests in the company of the Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa amidst other Bigard Formators and the Personal Secretary/Assistant to the Nuncio Rev. Fr. Nathaniel Dile.
The fraternal atmosphere of the occasion was convivial and relaxing. The bishop, on behalf of the Diocese gave a warm welcome to the Nuncio and his companions. In his speech, he expressed sentiments of joy for the visit of the Nuncio and assured him of the prayers of the Clergy, Religious and Laity of the Diocese for him as he carries out the onerous but fulfilling task of working for God and for humanity.
His Excellency the Nuncio shared a lot of memories with the bishops and the priests. The discussions were engaging and enlightening.
Recall Pope Francis on Sunday, May 1, 2022 appointed Nigerian Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo from Ozubulu in Nnewi Diocese, Anambra State, the new apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic.
He replaced Charles Daniel Balvo who served as apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic for the past four years.
Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo was born on December 18, 1956 and is a prelate of the Catholic Church who has worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 1990.
He was ordained a priest by Francis Cardinal Arinze on July 2, 1983 and was consecrated a Bishop by the same Francis Cardinal Arinze in on September 27, 2008.
Archbishop Jude Okolo has held the following posts in the Catholic Church:
- Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic.
- Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico.
- Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.
- Currently Apostolic Nuncio to Czech Republic.
The Catholic Church has three nuncios from Nigeria. They are:
Archbishop Jude Okolo from Nnewi Diocese, Anambra state. He is the Apostolic Nuncio to Czech Republic.
Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu from Aba Diocese, Abia state. He is the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva.
Archbishop Brian Udaigwe from Orlu Diocese, Imo state. He is the Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka.
Now let us refresh our minds on the functions of a Nuncio.
- WHO IS AN APOSTOLIC NUNCIO IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
An apostolic nuncio also known as a papal nuncio or simply as a nuncio is an ecclesiastical diplomat, serving as an envoy or a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to a country or to an international organization. A papal Nuncio is an ambassador of the Holy See to another country.
A nuncio is appointed by the Pope and represents the Holy See and is the head of the diplomatic mission called an Apostolic Nunciature which is the equivalent of an embassy. An Apostolic Nuncio is usually an Archbishop.
- SO A NUNCIO IS AN AMBASSADOR?
An Apostolic Nuncio is generally equivalent in rank to that of ambassador extraordinary. Although in Catholic countries the nuncio often ranks above ambassadors from other countries in diplomatic protocol. A nuncio performs the same functions as an ambassador and has the same diplomatic privileges. Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to which the Holy See is a member, a nuncio is an ambassador like those from any other country.
The Vienna Convention allows a country to grant seniority of precedence to the nuncio over others of ambassadorial rank accredited to the same country and may grant the deanship of that country’s diplomatic corps to the nuncio regardless of seniority. That is, papal ambassadors are expected to be the leader of all other ambassadors in the countries they are sent.
- DO NUNCIOS HAVE OTHER FUNCTIONS APART FROM BEING AMBASSADORS?
Nuncios serve as the liaison between the Holy See and the Church in that particular nation they are posted to, supervising the diocesan episcopate (usually a national or multinational conference of bishops which has its own chairman, elected by its members). The nuncio has an important role in the selection of bishops in the country he is working.
- WHAT IS HOLY SEE?
The Holy See is the name given to the government of the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the Pope as the bishop of Rome. As such, the Holy See’s authority extends over Catholics throughout the world.
- IS THERE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOLY SEE AND VATICAN CITY?
The Holy See is legally distinct from the Vatican City. It is the central governing body of the worldwide Catholic Church, headquartered in the Vatican City. So, Vatican City is used when referring to a country while Holy See is used when referring to the area governed by the Bishop of Rome, which includes the Vatican and the entire Catholics across the world.
Towards the end of the ceremony organized for His Grace Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo by the Diocese of Enugu, Very Rev. Msgr. Prof. Obiora Ike performed the toasting of wine. During the ritual, he narrated the remarkable formation and experiences they shared with the Nuncio as young junior seminarians at All Hallows Seminary Onitsha before the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War. He also impressively recounted their training as senior seminarians at Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu till their priestly ordination.
The Nuncio at the end thanked immensely His Lordship Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, his Auxiliary Bishop Most Rev. Ernest Obodo, members of the Curia and indeed the whole Diocese for the warm welcome.
Present at the occasion were the Vicar General of the Diocese Very Rev. Fr. Geoffrey Aguigwo, the Diocesan Secretary/Chancellor Very Rev. Fr. Wilfred Agubuchie, the Dean of Enugu Deanery Very Rev. Fr. Malachy Ezeonu, the Dean of Nkwo-Nike Deanery Very Rev. Fr. Celestine Nwogbu, the Dean of Udi Deanery Very Rev. Fr. Ignatius Emefoh, the Dean Emene Deanery Very Rev. Fr. Victor Eze, the Vicar for Priests Very Rev. Msgr. Anthony Anijielo, the Director of Vocation Very Rev. Fr. Ambrose Agu, the Vice Chancellor of Godfrey Okoye University Enugu Very Rev. Fr. Prof. Christian Anieke and others.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday 22 November 2023 the Diocese will celebrate the episcopal golden jubilee of Most. Rev. Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji, the bishop emeritus of the Diocese. The celebration which will attract dignitaries from all parts of the country will be held at St. Joseph Parish Emene-Enugu beginning with the Holy Mass at 10am.
You are highly invited!