Luminous Jannamike – Abuja
His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, on Thursday officially handed over to His Grace, Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, as the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja.
During the installation ceremony of the new Archbishop held in Abuja, the Pope’s Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, His Excellency, Most Rev. Antonio Fillipazzi, urged Kaigama to pursue the growth of the church under his watch with charity, zeal and holiness.
He said: “I congratulate the new Archbishop and remind him that we forever remain servants even as episcopal leaders. I urge him to continue to seek the growth of Abuja ecclesiastical province in both quantity and quality.”
Fillipazi, who noted that Pope Francis officially accepted Onaiyekan’s retirement request barely a month ago and named Kaigama as his successor, prayed that God protects the new Archbishop and hides him under His shadow.
On his part, Archbishop Kaigama described his new position as an act of God’s providence and vowed to live up to expectations.
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He said: “I found myself here never dreaming that it would happen. I thank God for protecting me all through my priestly life and even my episcopal ministry.
“I had certainly concluded that my end will be in Jos, but then, the Holy Father has asked me to lead the Archdiocese of Abuja. This is God’s providential design. I come with a bit of anxiety but I will try my best.
“I pray that we understand ourselves and work together as a family and be co-responsible.”
In his remarks, Cardinal Onaiyekan advised Kaigama not to allow the growth of the FCT to outpace the progress of the church under his leadership.
He said: “The big job my brother will have to inherit is to ensure that the church catches up with the growth of the FCT which will be even faster in the near future.
“Abuja province is special in the sense that it is archdiocese of the Federal Capital Territory. My successor is aware of that fact and feels the weight of the responsibility. One has no choice because the FCT has been growing quite frantically in the past 30 years.”
The former Archbishop, who said he would be staying in a retirement home in Abuja for the rest of his life, promised to support Kaigama in his work to ensure sustenance of the progress the church had recorded under him.
Kaigama was the Archbishop of Jos from 2000 to 2019 when he first became Onaiyekan’s Co-adjutor and then successor.