By Vincent Ujumadu
POPE Francis has named the Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese in Anambra State as a Cardinal.He becomes the second Cardinal from Anambra State after Francis Cardinal Arinze.
Bishop Okpaleke was born on March 1, 1963 at Amesi in Aguata local government area of Anambra State.
He attended Uga Boys’ Secondary School, Uga (1976-1981), St. John Bosco Seminary Isuaniocha (1982-1983), Bigard Memorial Seminary, now St. Joseph’s Major Seminary Ikot-Ekpene (1983-1987), Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu (1988-1992), Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt (1995-1997).
He also attended Pontificia Universita Della Santa Croce, Rome, Italy, (1999-2002) where he obtained a doctorate degree in Canon Law in First Class Honours. He also has a diploma in Ecclesiastical Administration.
Okpaleke was ordained a priest on August 22, 1992 after which he served as Assistant Secretary to the Bishop (1992-1995) and subsequently the Awka Diocesan Financial Administrator (1997-1999) and the Diocesan Chancellor (2002-2011).
He later became the chaplain of St. Joseph the Worker Chaplaincy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (1998-1999), and was at a time the administrator of St. Anthony’s Parish Nanka from March 2002 – October 2002 and the parish priest of Ss. John and Paul Umubele Awka from October 2011 to May 1, 2013.
Okpaleke was appointed the Bishop of Ahiara Diocese by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on December 7, 2012. The episcopal ordination took place on May 21, 2013 at Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri because of the opposition, spearheaded by some members of the clergy of Ahiara Diocese, Bishop Peter Okpaleke did not take canonical possession of the Diocese of Ahiara and did not exercise episcopal ministry in Ahiara.
On February 19, 2018, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Peter’s resignation as the Bishop of Ahiara and on March 5, 2020, the Pope announced the creation of Ekwulobia Diocese and the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke as her first bishop.