It was a moment of colourful ecclesiastical celebration in Maiduguri, Borno state, northeast Nigeria, on Thursday, when creme De La creme of the catholic church converged in the historic city for the episcopal ordination of a new Bishop in the person of Most Reverend John Bogna Bakeni.
Bakeni, aged 47, has emerged as the newest and the youngest Bishop in Nigeria. He was ordained as auxiliary bishop of Maiduguri Diocese.
His Excellency the Most Reverend Antonio Guido Filipazz, the Apostolic Nuncio – Apostolic Nuncio – the Catholic Church’s equivalent to an ambassador – to Nigeria officiated the ordination of the new Bishop.
From delivering an incisive speech which dwelt on faithfulness to the church of God, solving a nation’s problems through solutions driven by Godliness, and avoidance of turning the church into a business or political outfit, the Nuncio, led the most dramatic ritual of the ordination of the auxiliary bishop in line with the core rituals of the Catholic Church.
Decorated in his full regalia of a Bishop and graced by the Nuncio and other visiting Bishops of various Nigerian dioceses, Auxiliary Bishop John Bogna Bakeni proudly joined his colleagues as the expansive hall and its surrounding gallery thundered into celebrating ululation.
The Nuncio “gratefully…welcome” the new bishop into their college having entrusted him with the task of bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel, and with the ministry of the spirit and justice.
The Ordination was graced by many Nigerians including Labor Party Presidential candidate who quietly sneaked into town and attended the service without any show of drama.
Auxiliary Bishop Bakeni was born on 15 March 1975, in Kiri, Shelleng Local Govemment, Adamawa State.
He was ordained a Priest on August 17, 2002, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Maiduguri.
He had his primary school education at Bigaru Primary School Shani, Borno State, from 1982-1987. He attended St. Peter’s Minor Seminary Yola from 1988-1993. He acquired his BA in Philosophy in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Major Seminary Makurdi (affiliated to Urbaniana Pontifical University, Rome-Italy), in 1997. He obtained a BA in Sacred Theology in St. Augustine’s Major Seminary Jos, Plateau State Nigeria (Affiliated to University of Jos, Plateau State), in 2002.
He obtained his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Pontifical University (Angelicum), Rome-Italy from 2007-2009 with a speciality in Ecumenical Theology.
He acquired his Doctoral Degree in the same St.Thomas Aquinas’ Pontifical University (Angelicum) Rome-Italy from 2010-2012, specializing in Interreligious Dialogue.
Monsignor Bakeni holds the following certificates: from the David Hartman Institute in Jerusalem – Israel, in Jewish Religious Pluralism: Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations in 2010; certificate in
Interreligious Dialogue from Tony Blair Faith Foundation, London 2014 and a certificate Mediation and Negotiation from the Center for Security Studies (CSS) Switzerland 2015.
Auxiliary Bishop Bakeni is a Pioneer member of the Network of Traditional and Religious Leaders founded in Finland in 2015. He is also a leader in the John Paul II Centre for Interreligious Dialogue, Rome, Italy
Auxiliary Bishop Bakeni is an Alumnus and Fellow of the Russell Berrie Foundation in Interreligious Dialogue New York, USA,
WORK EXPERIENCE AND APPOINTMENTS
Auxiliary Bishop Bakeni served as a Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Kaya and the Director of the Catechetical Training Center Kaya, from 2002 to 2007. He also served as the General Secretary of the Kaduna and Jos Regional and Provincial Directors of Religious Education from 2003 to 2007.
He was also on the Jos provincial committee on Interreligious Dialogue, until he left for further studies in Rome in 2007
On his return from Rome, he served as Parish Priest St. Joseph’s Parish, Gashua, Yobe State (2012-2013).St. Joseph’s Parish, Gashua, Yobe State (2012-2013).
He was the Parish Priest, St. Hilary’s Catholic Church, Polo, Maiduguri (2013-2014). Auxiliary Bishop Bakeni was appointed the Cathedral Administrator, St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Maiduguri (2014-2019)
He was appointed Chaplain, All Saints’ Catholic Chaplaincy University of Maiduguri (2019-2022). Diocesan Secretary and Procurator (2013 to 2022).
Member of the board of Consultors (2013-2022). Coordinator of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue Commission (2013-2022).
Vice-Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State Chapter (2013-2022).
Auxiliary Bishop John Bogna Bakeni has attended many national and international conferences on Security,
Mediation, Negotiation, Peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue. He was the first moderator at the first international conference on the Lake Tchad region held in Oslo, Norway in 2016, which
established the framework to address the ecological, environmental and humanitarian crisis in the Northeast of Nigeria.
He was appointed auxiliary Bishop on the 12th of April 2022 by His Holiness, Pope Francis.