UGANDA: Pope Appoints Bishop Wokorach the New Archbishop of Gulu

By Paschal Norbert

GULU, MARCH 22, 2024 (CISA) – The Holy Father has appointed Rt Rev Raphael P’mony Wokorach MCCJ, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese Nebbi, Uganda, as the new archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Gulu.

The Comboni Missionary prelate will take over from Most Rev John Baptist Odama as the seventh archbishop of Gulu. 76-year-old Archbishop Odama, the pioneer bishop of Nebbi, retires after 25 years at the helm of the metropolitan see.

Bishop Wokorach MCCJ was consecrated and installed as bishop of Nebbi on August 14, 2021.

The 63-year-old prelate was born on January 21, 1961, at Ojigo Village in Wadelai, in the then Catholic Diocese of Arua before the diocese of Nebbi was excised from it, he attended Ragem Primary School, before entering Sts. Peter and Paul Minor Seminary at Pokea, in Arua, studying Sciences, Mathematics, Social Studies and Latin from 1975 to 1979.

He then moved to St. Joseph’s College Ombaci, Arua, where he completed his A-Level Education, graduating in 1982. Soon after, he joined the Comboni Missionaries Institute. As a postulant, he studied philosophy at Uganda Martyrs’ National Major Seminary, Alokolum, and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy by the Pontifical Urbaniana University of Rome. Two years later, he joined the Comboni Novitiate, in Tartar, Kenya and Kampala, Uganda, where he took his first religious vows in April 1989.

After taking his perpetual vows in December 1992, he was ordained a priest on September 25, 1993. He continued his studies in Kenya, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

In 1993, he was sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he worked for two years as a curate in a parish in Kisangani, before being posted as a formator to the Comboni Postulancy for candidates to the priesthood.

His qualities as a teacher and educator immediately attracted the superiors of the Institute, who placed him in various Comboni formation houses around the world. From 2001 to 2003, he was in Lomé, Togo, as a formator at the Postulancy for candidates for the brotherhood. Then, he was sent to Chicago (USA), as a formator and professor in the Comboni Scholasticate. In 2007, he was called to the Scholasticate for candidates to the priesthood in Nairobi.

Besides taking care of the scholastics’ formation, he taught as a lecturer at Tangaza University College, where he served for several years as chairperson of the Governing Council of the College. Appreciated by his confreres, he was elected vice-provincial of the Kenyan Province of the Comboni Missionaries, from 2011 to 2013.

In June 2018, Vatican ordered the suspension of activities of the Kenya-based Congregation of Apostles of Jesus (AJ), the first religious missionary congregation to be founded in Africa, placing it under a Pontifical Commission of Inquiry. The drastic action was ordered by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the prefect in charge of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, who also appointed Fr Wokorach to head the commission, taking over all the duties of the leadership of the society and conducting a further investigation into congregation’s activities.

Fr Wokorach headed the initial investigation as Pontifical Commissary, mandated by the Holy See to oversee the process of internal reforms and re-organization of the life of the members and  the 53-year-old Institute, founded by two Comboni Missionaries, Bishop Sixtus Mazzoldi and Fr John Marengoni, in Moroto, Uganda.