History was made on Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Port Harcourt as Most Rev. Dr. Patrick Eluke became the first ever priest of the Diocese to be consecrated a Bishop after 58 years of creation of the Diocese.
Most Rev. Dr. Patrick Eluke who was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese was until his elevation the Parish Priest of St. Francis Parish, Rumuokwuta, Port Harcourt as well as the Diocesan Vocations Director.
The new Auxiliary Bishop was consecrated by the Papal Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop, Anthonio Guido Filipazzi, who was assisted by the Archbishop of Calabar, Most. Rev. Dr. Joseph Ekuwem and the Bishop of Port Harcourt, Most. Rev. Dr. Camillus Etokudoh in the presence of over 45 Bishops, Archbishops as well as large number of priests and religious.
Addressing the new Bishop, Archbishop Filipazzi, explained that by his appointment, the Auxiliary Bishop has fully entered the chain of apostles of Christ, a feat for which he said, the faithful of the Diocese should be grateful to the Pope who made that possible.
He added that the ordination of the first indigenous Bishop of the Diocese was not just an exceptional event, but one that is meant to bring peace to all who live in the city of Port Harcourt, irrespective of their religious or political affiliation.
The Nuncio reminded the new Bishop on the need to see himself and his people with the eye of Christ, adding that by seeing the priests, religious and the lay faithful of the Diocese with the eye of Christ, the challenges facing the Church in Port Harcourt would be better settled.
“The new Bishop should be one who helps and serves, it is not an honour to be a Bishop, but for service. So he should not be like a judge, who commands and corrects, instead his job is to serve the people”, he said.
President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Most. Rev. Dr. Augustine Akubuebe said that Port Harcourt Diocese has by virtue of the ordination of an Auxiliary Bishop, the first in the 58 years history of the Diocese, made ecclesiastical history which should lead to rapid growth in the Diocese.
He welcomed the new Bishop into the college of Bishops of Nigeria and added that as an auxiliary, he has no See of his own, but he is expected to work according to the pastoral plans of the substantive; Bishop Camillus Etokudoh.
He noted that the appointment of a Bishop is not done with sentiments of any kind as only the suitably qualified persons are recommended to the Holy Father for appointment.
In his address, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Calabar, Most Rev. Dr Joseph Ekuwem said the consecration of Bishop Eluke is the second under his watch as an Archbishop, and that the province aligns herself with the stand of the CBCN and welcomed the new Bishop to the college of Bishops not only at the national level, but also at the Provincial level.
He further encouraged the faithful of the Diocese to ensure that the joy that came with ordination of Bishop Eluke should last for many years to come, especially when the new Bishop fully begins his assignments in the Diocese.
The host, Most Rev. Camillus Etokudoh had earlier welcomed all the dignitaries to the historical event which he described as a unique and great occasion.
The consecration of Most Rev. Dr Eluke which was witnessed by thousands of faithful across all Deaneries of the Diocese and was also beamed live on African Independent Television (AIT), had in attendance the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, former Governor of Rivers State and his wife Sir and Lady Celestine Omehia, former State Chief Judge, Justice PNC Agumagu among others.
Highlights of the day were the donation of a brand new Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) by the faithful of Port Harcourt to the new Bishop, while various cultural troupes were on hand to grace the occasion.