CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF MAKURDI

6

Biography of BISHOP CHIKPA WILFRED ANAGBE, CMF.


Birth

Msgr. Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe CMF was born in the humble family of Mr. Thaddeus Tsetim Anagbe and Mrs. Veronica Anasue Anagbe of blessed memory on April 2, 1965. He hails from Aondona, Raav Udam of Gwer-West local government area of Benue State. He is the second child out of the ten children of his parents.


Academic qualifications

He began his formal education at St. Peter's primary school Aondona 1974-1979. It was his father Mr. Thaddeus Anagbe who insisted that he went to the seminary for decent education. He studied at St. James Junior Seminary, Makurdi, from 1980 to 1985, and completed on the 4th June, 1985


He was invited by the Claretian Missionaries to begin his Postulancy at Claretian Institute of Philosophy, Maryland, Nekede-Owerri. This stage was combined with studies in philosophy from 1985 to 1986. The program was punctuated with the Novitiate which saw him at the Heart of Mary Novitiate in Utonkon, Benue State, from 1986 to 1987. After his first religious profession in 1987 he went to the Claretian Institute of Philosophy Maryland, Nekede-Owerri to continue his studies in philosophy which he completed in 1990. At the end of this program he graduated with B.Phil certificate from the Pontifical Urban University Rome. The young seminarian was sent to the Spiritan International School of Theology, Attakwu, Enugu State, for his studies in theology for four years, from 1990 to 1994. At the end of his Graduate studies he bagged a Master's Degree in Theology from Duquesne University Pittsburg, USA.


Final Profession and Ordination

After his final profession in 1992 he had his diaconate ordination on July 3, 1993 at Assumpta Cathedral Owerri, by Most Rev. Dr. Mark Unegbu. He was ordained a Catholic priest on August 6, 1994 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral Makurdi by Archbishop Vigano Maria, the then Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria.


Msgr. Chikpa Wilfred Anagbe appropriated to himself the will of God through obedience to the leadership of his religious congregation under his superiors. He is a man of obedience and has never rejected assignments given to him by his legitimate superiors. He can be described as a formator, a pastor, a farmer, an administrator, a retreat preacher, a consultor and a chaplain to the military.


Pastoral and Administrative Experiences

Immediately after his ordination he was appointed the Vocations Director of the Claretian Missionaries in Nigeria from 1994 to 1998. He became the pioneer manager of Claret Nursery/Primary School Nekede and the Director of Claretian School Board from 1996 to 1998. He was the first Claretian priest to work as pastor at St. Peter's parish Gariki, entrusted to the pastoral care of the Claretian Missionaries in Enugu Diocese from 1998 to 2000. From 2000 to 2004 the then Provincial superior appointed him the manager of the Claretian Farm Project in Utonkon, Benue State. While at the farm Monsignor Anagbe was also involved in the pastoral work entrusted to the Claretian Missionaries at St. Paul's Parish Utonkon Otukpo diocese as a collaborator. Because he was a tireless apostle like his father founder St. Anthony Mary Claret, the then Provincial Superior appointed him the pioneer pastor of St. Fidelis Catholic parish Allan from 2003 to 2004, a parish created from St. Paul's parish Utonkon. This assignment he combined with the administration of the farm project at the same time. It was during this time that the Bishop of Otukpo diocese appointed him the dean of Utonkon Deanery. His assignment at the farm and in the parish came to an end when his superior sent him to Spain to study Church history at the Pontifical University of Salamanca.


Like Fulton Sheen, Msgr. Anagbe believes that "if man is not saved nothing is saved." Perhaps that is why he has chosen as his Episcopal motto: 'to serve Jesus and the Brethren.' Service is the watchword for Msgr. Anagbe. Service to his Lord and to his brothers overrides his personal interest. Between 2004 and 2005 no sooner had Msgr. Anagbe settled down in Spain for his doctorate in Church history than he was elected in the Provincial Chapter of the Claretian Missionaries of Nigeria of 2005 as the Provincial Economo (financial administrator). In obedience to the will of his brothers and in service to them he accepted this offer and came back to Nigeria. He was re-elected into the same office during their Provincial Chapter of 2010, a function he performed to the best of his knowledge until he was appointed bishop by the Holy Father on July 8, 2014. During this period of his service as the provincial bursar the Superior General of the Claretian Missionaries Father Josep Maria Abella cmf, appointed him as a member of the general economic council of the Congregation in Rome from 2008 to 2013. It was the duty of the council to study and approve the budget of the entire Congregation.


While serving his brothers as the provincial bursar in Owerri, Imo State, he did not confine himself to only administrative work; rather he had time to be involved in pastoral work. At different times he acted as the military chaplain of 34 Artillery Brigade Obinze, Owerri and military chaplain of 3 Battalion Effurun Barracks Warri between 2009 and 2013 respectively. He also preached retreat to both priests and seminarians of some dioceses and religious orders. With his involvement in the different apostolate of his Congregation Msgr. Anagbe CMF, can only be described as an all round Missionary.


Monsignor Anagbe is so energetic that he can combine different assignments at the same time. Msgr. Anagbe knows how to domesticate his environment. He has a very satisfactory knowledge of poultry farming, fishery and gardening. He is also a very good cook. During some major Claretian events Msgr. Wilfred is seen roasting both fish and chicken just to make sure that his brothers and guests are well fed.


C.P. Varkey, S.J., wrote a book entitled Be Human Be Holy. Msgr. Anagbe knows how to be human and holy. In the midst of his spiritual and pastoral activities that are usually tight he will find time to relax with his brothers and friends. Don't be surprised if you see him moving round the garden looking at his crops especially in the morning or evening hours sipping his cup of coffee. His hobbies include: reading, listening to music and farming. Msgr. Wilfred has a great sense of humour. You will hardly get bored listening to him especially during his homilies. He speaks four languages fluently: Tiv, English, Igbo and Spanish.


Before he was appointed the co-adjutor bishop of Makurdi on July 8, 2014 by His Holiness, Pope Francis, Msgr. Anagbe had experienced every aspect of the Claretian apostolate.


With the Episcopal ordination of Msgr. Chikpa Wilfred Anagbe CMF as the co-adjutor bishop of Makurdi he occupies the twenty-first position among the living Claretian bishops in the Catholic Church worldwide, the second Claretian to be appointed bishop during the Pontificate of Pope Francis and the first Claretian bishop in the Nigerian Church. See how providence works. Msgr. Wilfred Anagbe was appointed bishop by Pope Francis, and his Episcopal ordination is on the 4th Oct, 2014 on the Feast day of St Francis of Assisi, a town where he made a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Francis on the 14th Sept, 2014 while in Rome for a course for the newly appointed bishops.


We pray that he will bring all his missionary experiences to bear in his new call to serve Jesus and his brethren as a bishop in the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi in particular and in the Nigerian Church in general. We commend our brother, father and friend to the protective and maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi and Saint Anthony Mary Claret, the founder of the Claretian Missionaries who was also a Missionary Archbishop of Cuba, and that Msgr. Anagbe may become a bishop after the heart and mind of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve!


Monsignor Anagbe believes that God does not call the qualified but God qualifies the called. He sees his call AD IESU ET FRATRES SERVIENDUM, "to serve Jesus and the brethren" as his Episcopal motto suggests, as pure divine providence because in the human calculation he is neither the most intelligent, most handsome, most holy nor most loved.


ORDINATION AND INSTALLATION

 

Bishop ANAGBE's episcopal ordination took place at IBB Square in Makurdi on October 4, 2014 and following the resignation of Bishop Usuh on March 28, 2015 Bishop Anagbe was installed as the Bishop of Makurdi Diocese at a public ceremony on July 25, 2015 at IBB Square, Makurdi.


A man of great humour

Sometime ago during an annual retreat organized for the Claretian Missionaries in Nekede-Owerri, Imo State, he joined the cooks in serving dinner and I called him to my side and asked him if they would serve fruit as part of the menu. And in his usual humour, he replied by asking if I have ever planted any tree since I became a Claretian. It was a joke but laden with meaning. Monsignor Anagbe is not a lazy person and does not cherish any person who is lazy. Even as he tells you 'to be patient with him because God has not finished with him yet,' he knows very well that success is achieved through hard work. Monsignor Anagbe will find it very difficult to give you fish, rather he will give you a hook to do the fishing yourself. Those who understand this will enjoy him!


All rights reserved, Editor & Director of Communications, Diocese of Makurdi.


Biography of Bishop Usuh

Most Reverend Athanasius Atule Usuh was born to the family of the late Pa Joseph Usuh Anachi and Mama Edna Hilemo Usuh of Mbatyough, Mbagen in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State on 2nd May, 1942. His mother gave birth to eleven children, Bishop Usuh was the second born. All of whom are now deceased except for the bishop and his younger brother, Emmanuel Ishosen Usuh.

The young Atule Usuh attended St. Theresa's Primary School Abwa from 1951 to 1958 graduating as a pioneer set. Most of the teachers in those days were Igbo. One of his teachers, Mr. Fabian Mwakama is still alive and in his nineties. After graduating from primary school, he went to RCM Abayol at Ukan in Ushongo Local Government Area where he taught for one year from 1959 to 1960. He was then transferred to RCM Kusuv in Mbatitiv, Yandev where he again taught for one year from 1960 to 1961. It was during this time that an old schoolmate of his who was already in the junior seminary while on holiday persuaded him to join the seminary. In response to the call to serve God in his vineyard, the young Atule discussed his desire with his then parish priest, Father Sherwood of St. John's parish Gboko, who advised him to take the entrance examination into the junior seminary. He got the admission and studied at St. James Junior Seminary Keffi from 1961 to 1965. In the junior seminary, his talents in music and sports were evident as he was made the choirmaster and football captain of the school. Leaving the junior seminary, he taught for a while at the then St. Augustine's Teachers College Lafia in 1966.


The urge to continue his call to the priesthood began to come to fruition when he was admitted to the Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu in September 1966. He recalls that all text books were in Latin and it was very challenging. His sojourn at Bigard lasted just three months because the outbreak of Nigeria civil war occasioned his departure from the eastern part of the country in November 1966. Fr. Donald Murray (who later became Bishop Murray) had asked Fr. Rooney to go to Enugu and bring the seminarians back to Makurdi. The young Athanasius Atule Usuh received his cassock and tonsure and went back to teach at St. Augustine's Teachers Training College, Lafia. The then Northern Ecclesiastical Province faced with stranded seminarians sought for permission from Rome to begin a seminary of its own in 1967.


This seminary, St. Augustine's Major Seminary started at Keffi to cater for returning seminarians. It is worthwhile to note that the sojourn in Keffi was only temporary and just after a year, the seminary moved from Keffi to Jos, where it stated in a primary school building at Dogon Dutse. The war had sent many families away and populations in these schools were heavily decimated creating room for the nascent seminary. Here the seminary stayed for a year and half, then moved to its permanent site at Rafinpa. At the seminary, the young seminarian Athanasius Usuh was an active football player and an avid choir master. His love and mastery of the football game earned him the school captaincy from his third year until graduation day. He was also for many years the seminary's choirmaster and music teacher with the help of Sr. Camel Dodd. While in the seminary, Bishop Usuh was made the first editor of the Awakening Light, the seminary magazine.


The young seminarian was also for many years involved in teaching at the St. Louise College Jos where he was a History and English Language teacher. He was also at this time heavily involved in sports development in the school. The priestly ordination of Fr. Usuh took place on 19th December, 1971 at St. John's Parish Gboko. On this day, seven deacons were ordained priests {Fathers Edward Maaer, Moses Adasu, Athanasius Usuh, Stephen Beba, Benjamin Adzor, Dominic Yuhe and Simon Ivever} in their third year of theology and they had to go back to the seminary to complete their studies in 1972. The two surviving in that class are Bishop Usuh and Father Stephen Beba. On the successful completion of his studies, Father Athanasius Usuh was posted to St. Patrick's Parish Taraku in January 1973. At Taraku, the young priest was interested in youth activities and their formation. This interest led to his founding a football team, The mosquitoes, a team of under -13 boys who mesmerized the entire state with their skills.


The life of a priest is basically a missionary one and so, by December 1974, Father Usuh was transferred to Sacred Heart Parish Udei where he served until early December 1975. By January 1976, he was again called to take up a new challenge; His Bishop sent him to the St. Augustine Major Seminary Jos. At the seminary apart from his duties as a lecturer, he was made a dean of formation and director of music. While working at the seminary in Jos, he was also appointed as the Diocesan Vocations' Director. He spent two and half years in the seminary and was sent to the United States of America to study at the Catholic University, Washington D.C. His interest was liturgical music. Bishop Murray initially objected to this and wanted him to study religious education. So, he started studying religious education and later changed his course to music. He completed his studies in liturgical music and returned to the Diocese in 1980. In 1981, he was appointed Rector of St. James Minor Seminary, Makurdi where he stayed for five years. During this time, he was responsible for selecting and forming students who will be trained as future priests for the Diocese.


It was based on his love for soccer and his organisational skills that the Benue State Government made him chairman of the State Football Association from 1984 to 1985. Gate takings at the stadia rose by over 300%. Having served well as chairman of Benue Football Association, the state placed another responsibility on his shoulders to serve as chairman of the Benue State Christians Pilgrim Welfare Board after the tenure of Bishop Achigili of the Methodist church. In 1986, he was appointed parish priest of Holy Ghost Parish, Makurdi and was also the Vicar General of the Diocese. He had a fulfilled ministry at Holy Ghost Parish and was very happy. In November, 1987, Fr. Athanasius Usuh was appointed a Coadjutor Bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi to replace the soon to retire Bishop Donald J. Murray, CSSp. Fr. Usuh's Episcopal ordination took place on the 6th of January, 1988 in Rome and he was consecrated by Pope John Paul II. He was installed the first indigenous Bishop of Makurdi Diocese on the 21st of October, 1989.


Bishop Usuh chose his motto: Lord I am not worthy Ter M Kuma Ga. According to him, this saying captured the circumstances leading up to his becoming bishop and the challenges ahead. It was also a sign of deep humility for the honour given him to serve as a bishop. He felt he was not the most intelligent of his mates, yet God found him worthy to be the Bishop. So he submitted in humility to God's will in his life. Since he took over the leadership of the Diocese twenty-five years ago, there has been phenomenal growth of the Church in this part of Nigeria: the increase in the number of Catholics evident in the number of priests and bishops ordained, dioceses created and the many young people in the seminaries. During these twenty-five years, we witnessed the creation of Otukpo, Lafia, Gboko and Katsina-Ala Dioceses, with the following as bishops: the late Bishop Fidelis Ogah, Bishops Matthew Audu, Michael Apochi, William Avenya and Peter Adoboh.


The Bishop is also known for his willingness to aid other dioceses, especially in the area of personnel; dioceses in and outside of Nigeria are benefiting from the personnel sent to them by Bishop Usuh. The bishop is grateful for the cooperation he has received from both the priests and the laity as chief shepherd of the diocese. He is impressed by the zeal, strength, courage and intellectual capacity of young priests who have brought so much vigour into the ministry. Despite the large number of priests in the diocese, there has been no major complaint of disunity amongst them. He constantly advices young and old priests to learn from each other whenever he notices some tensions among priests as a result of generational gaps. On June 29, 2013, a big celebration was organised for Bishop Usuh in honour of his Silver Episcopal Anniversary and the occasion was used to raise funds to build a retirement home for him.

Bishop Usuh is facing serious health challenges lately but he remains as cheerful and doughty as ever in ministering to his flock. He has been in and out of Germany for treatment. On November 14, 2013 the bishop commissioned a new complex at Bishop Murray Medical Centre where patients can also access dialysis services. The ceremony was witnessed by Governor Gabriel Suswam, priests, religious and the general public. On November 23, 2013 the bishop performed the solemn ceremony of investiture of Papal Knighthood on 14 candidates he had applied for to the Holy Father in 2012.


By Father Moses Iorapuu, Director of Communication