Pope's choice for Archbishop of Gulu wanted to be a pilot

Mar 23, 2024

In one of his past interviews with New Vision online  Wokorach (now bishop) revealed that as child, his dreams and desires in childhood were about flying big aeroplanes. 

New Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese Bishop Raphael p’Mony Wokorach/Photo by Juliet Anna Lukwago

Juliet Anna Lukwago
Journalist @New Vision

Pope Francis has appointed Nebbi Catholic Bishop Raphael p’Mony Wokorach (63) as the New Bishop of Gulu Archdiocese.

Bishop Wokorach is under the Congregation of Combonian Missionary of the Heart of Jesus (M.C.C.J). 

The newly elected Archbishop originally from the Nebbi diocese served in different capacities in many countries as a Comboni priest.

Childhood dream:

In one of his past interviews with New Vision online  Wokorach (now bishop) revealed that as child, his dreams and desires in childhood were about flying big aeroplanes. 

"All I wished for and prayed for was to study to become a Pilot.

The second choice was medicine so that I become a doctor.

 I grew up in a Christian environment both in family and school and I didn’t dream that I would become a priest, but I joined a seminary because I was an Altar server" he revealed.

His 30 years in priesthood Wakorach revealed,  taught him a lot including being patient.

Bishop Wokorach will be replacing Archbishop John Baptist Odama who was the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese for 20 years.

The bishop's cathedral:

Bishop Wokorach was appointed  as a new bishop of Nebbi Catholic Diocese in 2021.

His installation was however delayed until August 2022 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Wokorach became Bishop of Nebbi Diocese after the Vatican in November 2018 transferred Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok who was diocesan bishop to Lira to replace Bishop Joseph Franzelli (MCCJ) 

Pope Francis had accepted Franzelli's resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Lira due to advanced age.

Nebbi diocese: 

 On February 8, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI, appointed Fr Sanctus Lino Wanok as Bishop of Nebbi to replace Bishop Luluga.

 On February 9, 2019, Bishop Wanok, was transferred to Lira. At the time, and Nebbi Diocese had been under the Diocesan Administrator, Msgr. Emmanuel Odaga until Pope Francis appointed Wokorach.

Who is the new Archbishop Wokorach

He was born on January 21, 1961 to late Paul Ocama O mony and Ventorina Auma of Wadelai, all deceased in Ragem Village in Ewuata in Arua District, and among six surviving children.

He is the 4th born in a family of 11 children including a nun working in Arua.

He started his education at Ragem Primary School, then later joined St Peter and Paul Minor Seminary, Polea in Arua in 1975-1979.

In 1980-1982 he went to St Joseph College Ombaci in Arua for advanced Secondary School. 

 In 1983-1987, he joined the Comboni Petulancy where he studied Philosophy at Uganda Martyrs National Major Seminary in Alokolum, Gulu, obtaining a Bachelors degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical Urbaniana University.

In 1988-1989, he did the novitiate of the Comboni Missionaries in Tartar, Kenya and Kampala. 

In 1989 -1993 studied Theology in Tangaza College, Nairobi – Kenya . In 1994 he obtained a Master's degree in philosophy at the Catholic University of (CUEA), Nairobi.  In 200-2001, he did a course for formator at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.

He took his first Religious Profession on April 29, 1989 and the perpetual vows on October 12, 1992. He was ordained a priest on September 25, 1993 at Wadelai Parish Nebbi Diocese by Bishop of Nebbi by then, Martin Luluga.

1993-1994: He was a member of the Ugandan province while pursuing his Master’s programme in Philosophy in CUEA;

1994-2001: Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo, curate in a parish for a couple of years and later formator in the Postulancy for candidates to the priesthood; 2001-2003: Lomé, Togo, formator at the Brothers Postulancy; in  2003-2007: Chicago, USA, formator in the Theologate; 2007-2015: Nairobi, Kenya, formator in the Theologate and lecturer at Tangaza University College where he served for several years as Chair of the Governing Council of the College;

 On June 21, 2018, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life appointed him Pontifical Commissary for the same institute of the Apostles of Jesus.

The new Archbishop of Gulu is fluent several languages namely:  English, French, Italian, Alur, Acholi and Kiswahili.  

He was the fourth Bishop of the diocese, the first was Bishop John Baptist Odama, now Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese, Bishop Emeritus, Martin Luluga and Bishop Sanctus Lino Wanok now serving in Lira Diocese respectively.

About Archbishop Odama

According to the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Odama was born June on 29, 1947  in Riki-Oluku village in present-day Arua District, in the West Nile sub-region.

He was ordained priest in the Catholic church on December 14, 1974, at Arua Cathedral, by Bishop Angelo Tarantino, Bishop of Arua. He served as priest of Arua Diocese until February 23, 1996.

Odama was appointed bishop of Nebbi on February 23, 1996. He was appointed Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese on January 2, 1999. He retired on March 22, 2024, as  Archbishop of Gulu.

Odama was the chairman of the interfaith organisation known as Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), from 2002 until 2010. 

The organisation was involved in peace-building efforts in Northern Uganda. As leader of the organisation, Odama met with Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army and mediated between them and the Government of Uganda.

 ARLPI received the Niwano Peace Prize in 2004. Odama was also involved in the 2006-2008 Juba talks between the two parties in South Sudan.

Archbishop Odama has been the chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference since 2018

After Pope John Paul II erected Nebbi Diocese on February 23, 1996, Odama under the patronage of Immaculate Heart of Mary. Odama, received his Episcopal Ordination on May 26, 1996.

He worked in the Nebbi Diocese until 1999 when he became the first Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese.

The Ecclesiastical Province of Gulu comprises Gulu Archdiocese, and the suffragan Dioceses of Nebbi, Arua and Lira. 

When the Ecclesiastical Province of Gulu was created in 1999, Archbishop John Baptist Odama was transferred as the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese then retired bishop Martin Luluga who was the Bishop of Gulu became the bishop of Nebbi.

Archbishop Odama, was the Chairman of the Episcopal Conference who served for the past 8 years that meant two terms and was replaced by Bishop Dr Joseph Anthony Zziwa, the Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese.

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