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About the Cathedral

The story of Christ the King Cathedral is reminiscent of St. Paul's interpretation of Christian growth, (1 Cor 3: 6-7, 10): the one sows, the other waters; the one lays the foundation, all others build on this foundation. The final product is the Body of Christ, exalted, glorious, and holy.

The Irish Priest, Rev. Fr. Cornelius Liddane from Emekuku Mission, introduced the Catholic faith to Aba in 1916 or 1917 and built a batcher for his Church. Rev. Fr. Herbert Whytte replaced him in 1918 as the first resident Parish Priest  and under the revolutionary evangelization strategy of Bishop Joseph Shanahan, the first Bishop of Southern Nigeria, he established Christ the King School, C. K. S., by 1919, which now housed his Parish Church. The enigmatic French Priest, Rev. Fr. Eugene Groetz took over the Parish in 1925 and in the next 23 years embarked on an aggressive missionary expansion that saw Model Churches erected all over the Parish. While serving as a curate to Rev. Fr. Louis Ward at Onitsha, 1909-1920, Fr. Groetz settled in Umuoji and trained a good number of artisans such as Masons, Carpenters, and Sawyers to prepare the ground for his great building career.

Father Groetz's Church in Aba was simple and beautiful and it served as both Church and School. It was completed and dedicated in 1929 by the first Apostolic Delegate to visit Aba on the feast of Christ the King holding then in October, on the last Sunday after Pentecost. The Church met the requirements of the Parish up till our Independence in 1960. It was in it that the first ever ordination of an indigenous residential Bishop, Rt. Rev. Dr. A. G. Nwedo, CSSp. took place in 1959. Fr. Groetz died in 1948 but before he died he had recongnised the need for a bigger Church for his Parish and initiated plans for it. A young Nigerian, "Blessed Jacob" from Akpo was sent over to Italy for training in European style Church building.

Fr. Dan Carron, 1952 - 1954, laid the foundation of the present Christ the King Cathedral in1953. Between 1954 and 1955 Fr. Aloy Dempsy became the Parish Priest but did not continue the building. Even at this foundation stage, Christ the King Church or Cathedral hosted the first ever Ordination of an indigenous Priest, Rev. Fr. G. S. Eche, in Dec. 8th,, 1957, in a canopy erected within the foundation. Rt. Rev Fr. Msgr. Nwanegbo became the Parish Priest in 1956. From the foregoing, Rev. Msgr Joseph Nwanegbo arrived Christ The King Parish at a time when Aba had taken its unmistakable stand as a commercial nerve centre as well as the most vibrant Parish in Bisho Nwedo’s new Umuahia Diocese. Rt. Rev. Msgr. Nwanegbo did not waste time to react to this reality, and quickly commenced the construction of Christ The King Cathedral on the foundation already laid by his predecessors, with "Blessed Jacob" as the contractor . And so began the journey of the excellence we are celebrating today, a journey that spanned through 42 years, culminating magnificent edifice, Christ The king Cathedral.

'Msgr Nwanebgo completed and put to use the central wing of the present Structure by 1963 making it the largest church in the then Umuahia Diocese. It included an uncompleted Crypt (basement below the sacrity). It was a solid structure finished in unique sandcrete blocks

Nwanegbo's C. K. C. provided adequate accommodation for the Community of Aba from post-independent Nigeria, through the civil war, to the beginning of the oil boom era of the 70's, when Enyimba City saw another upsurge in population. Msgr Edward Nwafo took over C. K. C. Parish at the death of Msgr Nwanegbo in 1965, only to evacuate the parish in 1968 as civil war engulfed Aba. He returned in 1970 to embrace the greatest expansion the Catholic Community witnessed in Aba, transforming C. K. C. Parish to essentially what it remained till the creation of Aba Diocese. He expanded the Church adding the two wings that gave it the shape of a cross, 1975 - 1976; he secured the  entire C. K. C. premises, building the walls and gates that today define C. K. C., 1976-1978; and built the Grotto of our Lady of Nigeria. He capped his building career with the erection of the Ultra­-modern presbytery in 1985 which was to become a befitting residence for Bishop at the creation of Aba Diocese in 1990. He retired the same year but not before he completed for himself yet another beautiful parish house as his home. Presently known as the Diocesan house

By the creation of Aba Diocese in 1990, Christ The King Cathedral was in place but not finished. The next decade under Bishop of Aba Diocese, Rt. Rev Dr. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia, CSSp, witnessed the most profound beautification of the Cathedral, giving it elegance, style, and the serenity of Emmanuel, God with us. The magnificent bell tower was added 1993 changing the skyline Of Enyimba City with a peak about 30 metres high that can be seen anywhere within Aba. Next came completion of the Crypt now remodeled and air- conditioned. Then came the paneling of the entire interior of the Church with polished wood in exquisite style culminating in a royal pavilion, the Sedelia, at the top of the altar. The interior decoration was completed with excellent wall lighting crowned with a gorgeous chandalier over the sanctuary; stations of the cross in fiberglass were carved into the walls; the altar table and the pulpit were transformed into beautiful marble structure; and giant wall fans guaranteed the comfort of worshipers. Madonna Chapel and Blessed Sacrament Chapel were redesigned and given the present arched entrance to make them consistent with the rest of the modernized interior design, and refurbished with fine furniture, rugged floors, and aluminum doors. Expanding the Church Bishop Ezeonyia added artistically fascinating hexagonal Baptistery to the East wing in 1993; and most recently, 2002, extended the Sacristy into a spacious dressing room, and office complex. A well secured open space now surrounds the new Sacristy and the Baptistery to compliment, perhaps, the now overflowing cemetery! To further beautify the premises the Bishop developed two gardens on either side of the main arm of the Church, overhung by gorgeous shade trees, and punctuated by sculptured works notably SS. Peter and Paul on the West side and St. Ann's on the East side. The rest of the Cathedral premises have been paved in concrete, protecting the Church building from soil erosion.

Christ The King Cathedral is indeed a landmark in the commercial city of Aba. Located in the very heart of Aba, the entire premises occupies about 20 hectares of land accommodating the Chancery, a Presbytery, a primary School and a Secondary School, Chibueze Community Bank, Rex Oil Filling Station, several Laity Buildings, prominent among which include the five-story Parish Hall Complex, C. W. O. Hostel, Knights of St. John and Knights ofSt. Mulumba Halls, Legion of Mary Hall, C. B. I. U. Hall, C. C. R. N. Hall and Block Rosary Hall.


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