History of the Diocese of Ikot Ekpene

The earliest date for the foundation of any mission Church in Ikot Ekpene was in 1914 by the missionary fathers at Anua, St Anne Station, Ifuho, which is now the Cathedral parish. It was established in 1918 with Rev. Fathers Paul Biéchy, CSSP, and James Moynagh, SPS, as the first resident priests in 1920 and 1930, respectively, under Bishop Joseph Shanahan—the pioneer Holy Ghost Bishop of Southern Nigeria with his headquarters at Onitsha.

Ikot Ekpene has always been associated with Calabar Mission, which was established when Fr. James Moynagh, SPS, was appointed the Prefect Apostolic on July 9, 1934. When the Prefecture was raised to the status of Vicariate Apostolic on June 13, 1947, the Pastoral Care of the entire territory was entrusted to Bishop James Moynagh who became the Bishop of Calabar Diocese on April 18, 1950.

With the appointment of Bishop Moynagh, SPS, the Holy Ghost Fathers were replaced by the St. Patrick Fathers, who thenceforth have been indeed the Founding Fathers of Evangelization in Calabar, Ogoja, Ikot Ekpene, Port Harcourt and Uyo Dioceses.

The first indigenous Bishop of Ikot Ekpene was the Most Rev. Bishop Dominic I. Ekandem. He was ordained a priest on December 7, 1947, in Ifuho Cathedral, and consecrated an Auxiliary Bishop on February 7, 1954, by Bishop Moynagh as the consecrating prelate and Bishops Peter Rogan MHM of Buéa and Paul Biéchy of Brazzaville as co-consecrators. On March 1, 1963, the Most Rev. Bishop Dominic I. Ekandem was appointed the first resident Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese with the then Civil Provinces of Abak and Ikot Ekpene and all of the Annang ethnic extraction under it.

Bishop Dominic Ekandem was the Bishop of Ikot Ekpene from 1963 to 1989. On October 31, 1971, Most Rev. Bishop Ephraim S. Obot, who later became the Bishop of Idah Diocese in Kogi State (1971-2010), was appointed Auxiliary to Bishop Dominic Ekandem. Under Bishop Dominic Ekandem, Ikot Ekpene Diocese witnessed a tremendous growth in the ordination of indigenous priests. Creation of parishes, establishment of schools, hospitals and centers for the physically and handicapped, as well as the nomination of Most Rev. Dominic I. Ekandem to the Cardinalate on April 27, 1976, and his creation in the Consistory as the first Cardinal in Nigeria on May 24, 1976, by Pope Paul VI.

On the appointment of His Eminence Dominic Cardinal Ekandem to the See of Abuja Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria (FCT) in 1989, the mantle of leadership fell on Most Bishop Camillus A. Etokudoh who was consecrated the Auxiliary Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese on May 14, 1988. Bishop Etokudoh was appointed the Successor to Dominic Cardinal Ekandem on September 1, 1989, and installed the second Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Catholic Diocese on February 3, 1990. Following the appointment of Most Rev. Camillus A. Etokudoh as the Catholic Bishop of Port Harcourt Diocese on May 4, 2009, Msgr. Camillus Raymond Umoh was appointed as the Catholic Bishop of Ikot Ekpene on July 16, 2010, to replace Most Rev. Bishop C. A. Etokudoh. He was ordained on October 9, 2010, as the third Bishop of Ikot Ekpene Catholic Diocese.

 

First Mass in the Diocese—1914

First Missionary—Rev. Fr. Paul Biéchy

First Bishop—Dominic Cardinal Ekandem

Second Bishop—Most Rev. Camillus Etokudoh

Third Bishop—Most Rev. Camillus Umoh

Population of the Diocese—1,030,896

Number of Catholics—117,609

Parish and Quasi-Parishes—41

Churches or Mission Stations—05

Secular Priests resident in the Diocese—60

Religious Priests resident in the Diocese—04

Members of Men’s Religious Institutions—37

Members of Women’s Religious Institutions—96

Educational Institutes—53

Charitable Institutes—48