Meet with Our Lord Bishop
The Most Rev. Bennett Christopher Ikechukwu Okoro, PhD (JP) was born on the 24th of November 1949 to the Christian family of the late Chief Christopher Akwiwu Okoro of Umunegbele Aboh Village Dim-Na-Nume, Isu in Nwangele Local Government Area of Imo State. His father was the son of Akwiwu Okoro the eldest surviving son of Okoro Nwiwu of Umunegbele, Aboh, Dim-na-Ume Isu of Nwangele L.G.A. of Imo State.
His late father was for many years, a sales manager of a multi-national organization, G.B. Olivant (Nig). Ltd, Aba. His mother, Mrs. Rosa Amarachukwu Okoro (nee Nwadigo) hails from Ezeoke Nsu royal family. He is the second child in a family of twelve children six males and six females. Three of them are now late two males and a female. He was baptized as an infant by the late Rev. J.E. Ibeneme and confirmed by the late Archbishop C.J. Paterson.
He had his elementary school education at St. Michael’s Anglican Boys’ School, Aba and his secondary education at the Famous Union Secondary School, Enugu from 1962-1966. He was the senior prefect of the school in his last year.
When he was in the womb, his father prayed that the child to be born should be a boy so that he could dedicate him to the service of God as a Priest since he himself had desired to be a Priest but was not admitted into a Theological College in those days even though he passed all the prescribed examinations. He predicted that his second son would fulfill the role he could not fulfill himself. The prophecy was fulfilled by God Himself when Bennett was admitted to do professional/ordination course at the famous American College and Seminary, Manhattan, New York City New York, USA for a three year ministerial training.
He graduated a Licensure in Sacred Theology (Lic. Th.) with first Class honour 3.5 grade point average out of 4 grade points. (M.A. equivalency) of American College and Seminary, New York, an institution within New York State University system.
He enrolled at the famous Lincoln University and after two years earned a B.A. Degree in History and Political Science. He read this course on the advice of his Professor of Systematic Theology, Professor Diego Mosquera, a polish American who advised him to read another subject in addition to Theology to balance his learning and be able to meet pastoral challenges in his ministry. He attended several other courses including Guidance and Counseling at the University of llorin and Advanced Management Course for Church Dignitaries at the Diocese of Ilesha.
After many years, Archbishop Bennett Okoro (JP) enrolled for a Doctoral Degree Programme of the Trinity College and University, Dover-Delaware USA for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (theological studies and church history) and after three years intensive academic study and research, and after due assessment and evaluation tests passed the said degree of Doctor of Philosophy PhD. (Theological Studies and Church History of the said University by dissertation. His examiner, Professor A. Peel Bayley commended his academic ability and educational diligence.
Trinity College and University is accredited by the British Education and Science Act of 1988 with campuses in Spain and USA and it secured university Charter from the state of Dover-Delaware (USA) and is also accredited by the Accreditation Association of America 1992. In recognition of his educational and evangelical achievements, he was also conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Divinity (DD) (Academicus Honoris Causa) by Cornerstone University of the State of Hawaii.
Archbishop Bennett was ordained Deacon on the 27th of June 1976 and Priested on the 12th December 1976 by Bishop Herbert Haruna, the Lord Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kwara, where he served for many years.
After his ordination he taught Bible Knowledge and English Language at Osi Secondary School, Osi and Crowther Memorial College, Lokoja.
He was chaplain to the Federal Teachers College, Lokoja and a visiting chaplain to 83 Brigade, Nigeria Army, Lokoja, and a member of the National Association of Bible Knowledge teachers of Nigeria.
At various periods, he served as the vicar of St. Paul’s Church, Osi Kwara Diocese and Christ Church, Lokoja, Kwara Diocese.
He was released to the Diocese of Okigwe Orlu in 1984 after the creation of the Diocese and therefore became one of the pioneer priests of the said Diocese who helped in various ways to build it up.
In 1985, he was appointed the first Canon Residentiary of St. Paul’s Pro Cathedral Nkwerre by Bishop Samuel Ebo. In 1988, he was collated the Archdeacon of Etiti with headquarters at St. Paul’s Church, Ezeoke Nsu now the Cathedral of Okigwe South Diocese.
In 1993, he was recalled to St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral, Nkwerre and installed the first Provost of the Cathedral.
While in Okigwe Orlu Diocese, he was the assistant Director of Clergy Studies and a member of Nkwerre Local Government Education Authority.
He was elected Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Okigwe South in October 1993 by the Episcopal Synod of the Church of Nigeria and was consecrated Bishop by the Archbishop Primate of Nigeria and forty other Bishops on the Feast of the Epiphany 6th January 1994 at the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Aba. He was enthroned as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Okigwe South on the 8th of January 1994 in St. Paul’s Cathedral Church, Ezeoke Nsu. While in Okigwe South, he established four secondary schools, viz Bethany Secondary School Lowa, Holy Family Secondary School, Odenkume, Mt. Olives Junior Secondary Umuezealansu and New Bethel Secondary School Umueze II. He built St. Paul’s Cathedral EzeokeNsu from DPC to roofing stage and built a Diocesan Secretariat at the new site acquired by me and the Church committee of St. Paul’s Cathedral Ezeokensu and made preparations for the building of the new Bishopscourt by directing the Knights to take it up. To the glory of God Bishop David Onuoha of Okigwe South built and dedicated it.
The Archbishop believes in Evangelism and has held Revival programmes in Nigeria and outside the country and established Revival fellowships such as EFAC and Vision of Mission, A.C.M., CFF in the Diocese and also a full member and patron of Scripture Union Nigeria. He has turned many souls to Christ. He was one of the bishops who attended the last but one Lambeth Conference of the bishops of the Worldwide Anglican Communion with his wife in England in 1998 and GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) Jerusalem in 2008. He is widely travelled and has visited many countries in Europe, America and Africa.
Archbishop Bennett got married to Mrs. Dora Adanma Okoro (JP) (nee Nze) of Ezeoke Nsu in July 1977. She holds a B.Sc Degree in Agric Education of the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She is a professional teacher and Deputy Director of Schools Orlu Zone. Both of them love church music and singing and grass-root evangelism. They are blessed with eight children, two boys and six girls. Most of the children are happily married and are professionals in different fields of endeavour viz Law, Medicine and Engineering.
With the retirement of the pioneer Bishop of Orlu, The Rt. Rev. Samuel C.N. Ebo, Archbishop Bennett was translated to the Diocese of Orlu as the second Bishop having been nominated and duly elected by the Episcopal Synod of the Church of Nigeria to help give it post natal nurture and stability, the Diocese having given birth in the past eighteen years to four autonomous Dioceses of Okigwe South, Okigwe North, Ideato and Oru. Archbishop Bennett Okoro has established a Diocesan Church Centre of International Standard for retreats and other church programmes. It has accommodation for over 100 persons who wish to be in residence. He led Sir John Anyaehie to pledge to God with his predecessor Bishop Ebo the building of a Cathedral and supervised the construction of the 8000 capacity Cathedral to dedication. He has opened over thirty five new churches including All Souls Church D.C.C. Dim-Na-Nume Isu Nwangele L.G.A. Imo State Nigeria and established over ten secondary schools in the Diocese. A Printing Pres and Wafer Industry are in place to offer jobs for youths. He inspired Sir Chijioke Tasie to build an ultra modern secretariat for the Diocese. The women’s ministry under Mrs. Dora Okoro, his wife has established Toilet roll industry, Candle and Soap making outfit, a standard Bottled Water Industry that is second to none in Orlu Zone. With the restructuring of the church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) into fourteen internal provincial structures, Bishop Bennett Okoro (JP) was elected the Pioneer Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province by the Episcopal Synod on the 27th of November 2002, Presented on the 19th of January 2003 at the Cathedral Church of Christ Lagos. He was equally re-elected as Archbishop in the year 2008 and presented at the Cathedral church of St. Faith Awka. He completed his ten year administrative tenure as Archbishop of Owerri Province in January 2013. The House of Bishops resolved by a motion that he and other Archbishops who had completed their administrative tenure will retain their titles as Archbishop (Most Rev) His Grace for life. He continues as the Bishop of Orlu until he attends the age of 70 years which is the mandatory age for retirement of Bishops in the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Okoro is very friendly, an accredited counselor, evangelist, most of the parishioners feel most welcome in their interaction with him. A personality the church of God will ever be proud of. A fine gentleman of the Holy Order.