Following the appointment of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Patrick Eluke by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, the entirety of the Catholic Diocese of Port Harcourt was set on an inferno of joy and jubilation at the signal of attention and love from the Holy Father.
The announcement is a confirmation of the growth of the Catholic faith in Rivers State, and a record-breaking development which made Port Harcourt Diocese join the league of Catholic Dioceses in Nigeria to have produced a Catholic Bishop. Moreso, the ministry of the Auxiliary Bishop is one that will bring about more aggressive evangelization of the State. The appointment was also seen as answer to the prayers of the Diocese to have at least one indigenous priest elevated to the rank of Catholic Bishop in Nigeria, 58 years after creation of the Diocese. It is therefore, a perfect 58th anniversary gift to the Diocese.
There is no doubt that with the appointment of an Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese, a number of benefits will accrue including greater pastoral attention to the rural communities, especially, the administration of the sacrament of confirmation on qualified candidates. The appointment of an Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese is an added impetus for the clergy and the laity to be further strengthened to conquer more grounds for the Church and to ensure that the message of Christ is preached in all the parts of the State.
The Auxiliary Bishop is usually appointed on the request of a Diocesan Bishop on grounds of work load and pastoral exigencies. Upon appointment and consecration, the Auxiliary Bishop functions as the immediate collaborator and deputy to the local Ordinary. Because he has Episcopal character, he is empowered to assist the Diocesan Bishop in ways that one who is not a Bishop cannot. This hastens a lot of administrative and pastoral actions in a massive Diocese like Port Harcourt.
All is now set and the atmosphere is fully charged for the most desired event of the consecration of the new Bishop elect, Msgr. Patrick Eluke, slated for Thursday 9th May 2019, at the Corpus Christi Cathedral, Port Harcourt. As the Episcopal ministry is a special gift of grace to the people of God, it is no surprise that drums have been rolled out across the Diocese and beyond for the celebration of this moment of grace.
As the gaze of the universal Church and the Church in Nigeria in particular focuses on Port Harcourt City the coming week, the faithful have rightly been called upon by the Diocesan Bishop to take up a novena in spiritual preparation. As we congratulate the Bishop elect and the Diocesan Bishop on this auspicious event, we felicitate with the priests and people of the Catholic Diocese of Port Harcourt for this victory of Divine Mercy.