St. Theresa’s Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka was dedicated on Thursday, November 19, 2020, the exact date the diocese was founded in 1990.
The first bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Francis O. Okobo, laid the foundation stone in 1991, although attempts to build a big church at then St. Theresa’s Parish started about 1977.
The Nsukka cathedral is the biggest in West Africa, with a seating capacity of 5, 500.
Okobo, now Bishop Emeritus, retired in 2013 and Pope Francis appointed the current bishop, Rev. Professor Godfrey Igwebuike Onah.
At least 35 Catholic bishops of Nigeria graced the event. Some current and former governors were also present. Every available space inside and outside the cathedral was filled by mainly Catholic faithful from the senatorial zone
On the occasion that commenced with a Holy Mass, Pope Francis, who was represented by the Apostolic Nunciature to Nigeria, Antonio Guido Fillipazzi, commended Catholics in Nsukka diocese for building a magnificent cathedral for God, and he urged them to always remain steadfast in their faith. No country had recorded any meaningful progress in the presence of religious intolerance, the Pope said. “Nigerians should love one another irrespective of religious affiliations in order to move the country forward.”
In a homily, Bishop Onah urged Christians in the country to always work and pray for peace and development. “The number of Christians in Nigeria is enough to transform the country; the problem is that while some pray they do not work, while others work without praying.” The bishop reminded Christians in Nsukka diocese that building a cathedral for God is good but the most important is housing Jesus Christ in their hearts by doing God’s will all the days of their lives. “As we have dedicated this cathedral today, if you come and stay here every day praying without work, you will die of hunger and if you work without praying, your efforts will be in vain as you will miss heaven,” he said.
He expressed appreciation to Catholics, non-Catholics, Muslims and the Enugu State government, among others, who contributed financially towards the building of the cathedral. “This cathedral is not built by Catholics and Christians alone; even Muslims contributed, and some of them are here present today. My prayer is that God will bless all and sundry who contributed in cash or kind towards making this cathedral project a reality,” Bishop Onah stated.
Nsukka in Enugu State hosts Nigeria’s first indigenous university, the University of Nigeria.