Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and dozens of bishops were on hand, yesterday, as Most Rev. Antonio Filipazzi ordained Dr. John Bakeni as the first indigenous Auxiliary Bishop of the Maiduguri Catholic Diocese.

Performing the ordination rites, yesterday, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Maiduguri, Borno State, the Italian priest and theologian charged Bakeni to use his good offices, as a bishop, to build the body of Christ.

According to Filipazzi, this will keep the Church united with other bishops, adding that the title ‘Bishop’ in the Catholic Church is one of service to the people with honour.

“A Bishop should always strive to benefit others, rather than lord it over them,” he said, noting that such is the precept of the Master, where the greatest should behave as the least, and the leader remains the servant.

He, therefore, urged Bakeni to preach the Word in and out of season, and reprove with all patience.

“There should also be a sound teaching for the benefit of the Catholic family,” he said. “As the Church entrusted you, be a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ, our Lord.

“Love all whom God placed in your care, especially priests and deacons, your co-workers in the ministry of Christ, including the poor and the weak, immigrants and strangers.”

Filipazzi also charged the new bishop to guide the holy people of God in the way of salvation as a devoted father and sustain them with the help of his fellow ministers.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria also reminded Bakeni to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel and the ministry of the Spirit and justice.

Responding, Bakeni thanked the participants at the ceremony and urged them to continue to pray for him.

He said that since the Pope graciously nominated him as an assistant, as requested by His Lordship, Most Rev. Oliver Doeme of Maiduguri Diocese, he would remain loyal to him and be dedicated to the Lord’s Vineyard.

Bakeni was born on March 15, 1975 in Kiri village of Shelling Local Council of Adamawa State.

He has ordained a priest on August 17, 2002, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Maiduguri, after he attended various theological studies within and outside the country, before his new appointment as Auxiliary Bishop on April 12, 2022, by Pope Francis.

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