BLUFFTON — Father Pius Ilechukwu, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Bluffton, has recently been conferred the title of Very Rev. Monsignor by Pope Francis. The announcement was made by Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke, the bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Nigeria, Msgr. Ilechuckwu’s home.
The document for the conferment of Papal Chaplain (Chaplain of His Holiness) with the title of Very Rev. Monsignor was signed on Dec. 16, 2014. The announcement was made on Feb. 10 at the celebration of the 13th anniversary of the canonical erection of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi and the 13th anniversary of the episcopal ordination and installation of Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke, who is the first bishop of Nnewi Diocese.
“I feel happy, because it is an honor,” Msgr. Ilechuckwu told Today’s Catholic. “It is a sign that the person is doing well. And more importantly, it is a call to be, ‘more like Christ,’ every day. It is a call to harder work in all priestly pastoral ministry.”
Bishop Okeke told Today’s Catholic, “Very Rev. Monsignor Pius N. Ilechukwu, has been a zealous and diligent pastor. He has served the Church with devotion and commitment wherever he has been and is. He was an episcopal vicar in Nnewi Diocese before he travelled to the USA to help in pastoral ministry.”
The ceremony for the formal conferment of the papal honor is scheduled for May 16.
A joyful Msgr. Ilechukwu in gratitude noted, “Thanks to God for His blessings, love, guidance protection, mercy, etc. Thanks to His Holiness, Pope Francis. Thanks to my home bishop, Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke. Thanks to my bishop here in the U.S., Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades. Thanks to my benefactors and benefactresses. Thanks to all my parishioners and staff present and past. Thanks to all my friends. God bless you all.”
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