Brief History of the Diocese

One thing I ask of the Lord. This I long to dwell in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life.

Brief History

Every history as is always the case is a sacred history, and every history is equally a Gospel. Any attempt to eliminate God from history will amount to serious lack in the understanding of even the history of man, which is a chapter, a reflection of the history of God.

Just as God sent His Son into the world when the appointed time came, to enable us to be adopted sons (Gal. 4, 4-5), in a like manner, Rev. Fr. Joseph Lutz, CSSp, and Jean-Nicholas Horne, CSSp were sent to Nigeria. They landed at Onitsha Wharf on December 5th 1885 and later reunited with their co-missionaries; Brothers Hermas and Jean-Gotto, whom they left in Brass.  Consequent upon their arrival Catholicism was launched in the Eastern part of the Niger in 1885. In 1886, the missionaries acquired 20 hectares of land for erecting edifices through the generosity of King Obi Anazonwu, who without knowing it was signing the death warrant of paganism on our territory.

Catholicism was launched in Aba in 1916 through the unrelenting and unflinching apostolic spirit of Rev. Fr. Cornelius Liddane, CSSp. This was the time when the Gospel message was germinating and putting on "Leaves on books" as a result of the erection of schools and churches. This was within 1905 and 1925 as was recorded by Bishop Nwedo of blessed memory. Before Now missionaries had suffered greatly and even paid with their blood. The saying "the blood of Martyrs is the seed of Christianity" can “mutantis mutandis”, be truly applied to them-the Missionaries.

Catholic Faith came into Aba as at the time when Bishop Shanahan championed the idea of evangelization through the building of schools. Different communities sought to have one erected in their vicinity. Mr. Thomas Emeruwa Otigbuo equally sought to have one present in his community.  In 1916, he invited Rev. Fr. Liddane to his home town Umuko. This visit brought with it Catholicism to today's Catholic Diocese of Aba. He began visiting Umuko from Emekuku, Owerri where he was serving as a curate under Rev. Fr. Daniel Walsh; CSSp. Fr. Liddane erected a Church at Umunkeyi Enroute to Umuko.

By 1917, the Rev. Fr. Liddane led a formal mission to Asa (Aba), and set up what is today Christ the King Church Aba. At this time, the church in Umunkpenyi was already functioning. The same Fr. Liddane was received in Amiri and Mbutu Ngwa from Christ the king church Aba in 1917 (1918). Some documents put the visit to Asa (Aba) and Mbutu Ngwa in 1916, towards the end of the year; and to Amiri in 1918. Ohuru received the Catholic Faith in 1916 but through the harbingers of the Gospel Message that came from Calabar, Cross River State. In 1927, Rev Fr. Daniel Walsh, CSSp, proclaimed the faith at Obuzor, today Holy Trinity parish Obuzor.

All these nuclei Churches had Aba as their headquarter. It is from these nuclei Churches established between 1916 and 1927 that the Catholic Church sprout up, crept and penetrated into different areas and at different times and grew into a huge tree, and like the Biblical Mustard seed, foliated, sheltering all kinds of birds and became what is today known as the Catholic Diocese of Aba.

It was Rev Fr, Liddane, CSSp, who brought the Gospel Message to Aba in 1917 and was practically the parish priest until 1918. In 1918 Rev Fr. Herbert Whytte, CSSp became the first residential priest. He was succeeded by Rev Fr. 0' Sullivan, who died suddenly in 1925. In 1925, the veteran missionary, Rev Fr Eugene Groetz, CSSp, was sent to Aba to take over the rein of the Parish administration. The ubiquitous and indefatigable Fr. Groetz had worked at Umuoji parish. Rev Fr. Groetz completed the old Father's House which was started by Fr. H. Whytte. He then built the old church which served as both church and school. The building was blessed in 1929 by the first Apostolic delegate to visit Aba. He was Archbishop Kingsley. He gave the church the name Christ the King because the blessing took place on the feast of Christ the King. Rev Fr. Groetz’s tenure as the parish priest of C.K.C and its environs, which lasted for 23years (1925 to 1948) was a major landmark in the history of the Catholic Church in Aba diocese. He built churches and schools; he touched the heart of everyone who encountered him.

Christ the King parish during the time of Fr Groetz comprised; Aba Urban, Ngwa hinterland including Ntigha, Mbawsi, and Oloko and also Ukwa, the whole of Asa, Ndoki and extended to Mmuonta, Ikot lnyang, Ndiakata and part of Ikot Ekpene. It also extended to the Rivers state from Etche to Portharcourt and environs, which was carved out as a separate parish in the 1930's

When Umuahia was carved out of Owerri Diocese on 23rd June 1958, Aba became a pastoral zone of the Diocese together with Okigwe with His Lordship, Most Rev Anthony G. Nwedo, CSSp, as the Bishop. He was also a veteran missionary, a man of vision. His apostolic work and zeal gave impetus to the growth, flowering and maturation of the faith in the former Okigwe and Aba zones.

Aba zone excised from Umuahia and became a diocese on April 2nd, 1990. Its first residential Bishop, Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia C.S.Sp. was installed on the 2nd July, 1990 at Christ the King Church; he was ordained Bishop 1st July, 1990 at Mater Dei Cathedral Umuahia. At the time the Catholic Diocese of Aba was created, there were 24 Parishes, 33 indigenous priests including those born and bred in Aba, many Religious men and women and a catholic population of 227,225. The bulk of the Catholic population was concentrated in Aba Urban and its immediate environs.

The Catholic Diocese of Aba has recorded some striking progress since its inception in July, 1990 when His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia C.S.Sp, began to pilot the administrative reins. The diocese has now 144 priests (with the exception of the dead priests and those who have incardinated into another diocese). She has now 59 parishes; the Diocese equally has a handsome number of her sons in the seminaries, and good number of her daughters in the convents.

As the Diocese focuses on deepening the faith, it also focuses on improving the lot of the masses. The Bishop has built many secondary schools and numerous primary schools. The Diocese has a hospital, (St Joseph's Catholic Hospital, Ohabiam, Aba) and some Health Centres/Maternities. The Diocese is committed to improving and developing her schools, the hospital and health centers so that they can render the best of services to humanity.

During the Great Jubilee Year 2000 of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Diocese celebrated the 10th Anniversary of her Creation. In this Jubilee year celebration the Bishop of the Diocese Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia C.S.Sp, the Clergy and lay Faithful decided to hold a diocesan synod, A Synod for true Christian identity. This Synod of the Catholic Diocese of Aba came at a favourable time, a time when the Church calls her sons and daughters for a sober reflection. A time of Grace, Repentance, Renewal, Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Healing and Thanksgiving. The synod sessions were held in 2001..

Though the Church in Aba is growing, we must not lose sight of the onslaught of neo-paganism, occultism, Pentecostalism which feed on ignorance, fundamentalism and superstition, and the geography of poverty. All these prevent the true faith from penetrating into our lifes. The chief shepherd of the Diocese of Aba, Most Rev. Dr. Vincent Valentine Ezeonyia C.S.Sp, puts the matter poignantly after reflecting on the whole scenario. "The small boat of thought of many Christians has often remained agitated by the waves, tossed about from one extreme to the other; dictatorship of relativism has its grip on us. The Catholic Diocese of Aba is being strangulated by this because of its deep rootedness in a territory with a proliferation and/or rather very fast expansion of Pentecostal sects and doctrines, as well as in a land which constitutes an emblem of a great challenge posed by deep-seated paganism and traditional religiosity." (Introduction to the Synod Acta, Aba, 2000). It was this paternal concern that inspired the Local Ordinary to choose TRUE CHRISTIAN IDENTITY as the theme for the first Synod of the Diocese.

Though we have done a great deal, we still have an up-hill task. The clergy and the laity must rise against these challenges. What is required of us is orthodoxy and holiness of life.


Marian Year

Date: 2017-01-01 - 2017-12-31

The Catholic Diocese of Aba joins the universal church in celebrating the marian year 2017.

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logoThe 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.

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