Onitsha — FORMER Dean, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion and Ex-Archbishop of Diocese on the Niger, Most Rev. Jonathan Onyemelukwe is dead.
The Bishop of the Niger Diocese, Rev Owen Nwokolo, announced the death of Onyemelukwe aged 81 at Bishops Court Onitsha Tuesday during a press briefing.
Described as "a consummate servant of God and pastor who positively touched and transformed many lives of priests and parishioners", Onyemelukwe passed on after a brief illness on July 18, 2011.
Bishop Nwokolo stated, "we received with shock but with total submission to the will of God the death of Most Rev Jonathan Anenechukwu Onyemelukwe , the Archbishop Emeritus of Province Two, former Dean, Church of Nigeria and Bishop on the Niger. He was briefly ill, and then submitted to the will of God on July 18, 2011".
Onyemelukwe was elected Bishop on the Niger in 1975 and retired in 2000. According to Bishop Nwokolo, the Archbishop achieved a lot of land mark programmes and projects within the church, including the institution of the now popular Knight of St Christopher which debuted in the Niger Diocese first under his Bishopic. He also initiated many missionary works, planting of new dioceses and parishes.
Known with his now popular catchphrase, "woe is me if I donÂ't preach the message of Jesus Christ", late Onyemelukwe championed the completion and commission of the All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha, ordained many priests, including the incumbent Bishop Nwokolo.
He was reputed to have had his final resting place prepared, and was consecrated long before now by the late Archbishop Benjamin Nwankiti, in a chapel in his Nanka country home.
Bishop Nwokolo described him as a well known figure in the Church and all over the world and in the Church of England. Before his death, he was granted the citizenship of the city of Texas, USA.
"It is indeed a great loss to us, the Church and the entire Christianity and nation of Nigeria. He was Bishop of Bishops", Nwokolo added
The late cleric who hailed from Nanka in Orumba North council of Anambra state was survived by three children- Obiorah Onyemelukwe, Mrs. Augusta Ejindu and Mrs Bona Ilonzo.
Onyemelukwe will be buried on October 6, 2011.