Biography of Most Rev. Peter Ebere Okpaleke

Bishop of Ekwulobia Diocese


BIRTH & EARLY CHILDHOOD:

Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke and his late twin Paul were born on March 1, 1963 to the family of Reuben Ezeuko Okpaleke and Bridget Ekejimma Okpaleke both of blessed memory, of Umuokpalawuzie kindred of Umuocha village, Amesi, Aguata L.G.A of Anambra State. He has four surviving siblings. He was baptized on April 1, 1963 by Fr. J. Sheehan. He spent his early childhood at Uga raised by his maternal grandmother, Evelyn Abiahuaku Ibekwe.

EDUCATION:

The young Peter attended Oganiru Primary School Uga (1971-1976); 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), 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.

JOURNEY TO THE PRIESTHOOD:

Fr. Peter Okpaleke was ordained a priest on August 22, 1992. But this journey could be traced back to 1972 when providentially he was ‘conscripted’ to serve at Mass without having ever been an altar server. This was because other altar servers were absent because it was raining.

PRIESTLY LIFE AND MINISTRY:

Fr. Peter Okpaleke spent most of his priestly life in the chancery with breaks in between when he went on post-graduate studies and when he had some stint in pastoral ministry. He served as Assistant Secretary to the Bishop (1992-1995); the Awka Diocesan Financial Administrator (1997-1999), the Diocesan Chancellor (2002-2011). During this period, he also served as the Diocesan Master of Ceremonies and served in many boards, committees and commissions of the Diocese.

Fr. Peter served pastorally as the Assistant Chaplain (1997-1998) and then chaplain of St. Joseph the Worker Chaplaincy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (1998-1999) respectively. He also served as 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.

CALL TO THE EPISCOPACY:

Fr. Peter 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 did not take canonical possession of the Diocese of Ahiara and did not exercise episcopal ministry in Ahiara.

On February 19, 2018, the Holy Father, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Peter’s resignation as the Bishop of Ahiara. On March 5, 2020, the Holy Father announced the creation of Ekwulobia Diocese and the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke as her first bishop.

PUBLICATIONS AND MEMBERSHIP OF PROFESSIONAL GROUPS:

Bishop Okpaleke has nine publications (books and monographs). They include: The Administrator of Diocesan Property (2002); A Handbook on the Administration of Parish Property (2002); Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in the Church (2004); Irregular Unions (Marriages) and Denial of the Reception of Holy Communion (2004); Pastoral Visitation: Towards knowing the significance and necessary preparations (2006); The Role of Deans in Diocesan Apostolate (2008); The Establishment, Competence, Functions and Organization of Diocesan Pastoral Council (2010); I Believe in the Communion of Saints (2011); Consultative Process and not Democracy in the Catholic Church (2012).

Bishop Peter Okpaleke belongs to the Canon Law Society of Nigeria since 1995. He had also served as the Co-ordinator for Research and Publications, Canon Law Society of Nigeria from 2009 to 2013.

MESSAGE TO ALL:

Bishop Peter Okpaleke invites all to focus more on how to grow in an intimate personal relationship with God; to open themselves to the mercy of God. He recognizes how people’s formative experiences in this fallen world tend to point people in the other direction. He, therefore, enjoins on all to be compassionate, to bear one another’s burden (Gal. 6:2), invoke and open themselves to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. In this light, one can understand the underlying convictions behind his episcopal motto: Veni Sancte Spiritus – Come Holy Spirit! – an invocation to the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of the faithful, transforming and empowering them to commit themselves to the renewal of the face of the earth.