Episcopal Ordination and Installation of Archbishop Roger Houngbedji, OP in Cotonou

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Episcopal Ordination and Installation of Archbishop Roger HOUNGBEDJI, OP in Cotonou
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Appointed as Archbishop of Cotonou (Benin Republic) by Pope Francis, on June 25, 2016, our brother, His Grace Roger Houngbédji , OP, was consecrated Bishop on Saturday, September 24, 2016. Cardinal Theodore Adrien Sarr, Archbishop Emeritus of Dakar, Senegal was the main Consecrator, while Bishop Brian Undaigwe, Apostolic Nuncio in Benin and Togo was the first co-consecrator and Bishop Antoine Ganye, Archbishop Emeritus, Apostolic administrator of Cotonou, the second co-consecrator. The ceremony took place at the esplanade of the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou, in the presence of twenty Bishops of Benin Republic and the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (R.E.C.O.W.A), about 500 priests, many religious male and female, and a huge crowd of faithful. Beninese authorities were not left out: the personal representative of the Head of State, the President of the National Assembly of Benin, and several other personalities.

The participation of the Order was particularly impressive and remarkable! Besides the massive presence of the Brothers of the Vice Province of St. Augustine in West Africa, Dominican nuns, Sisters and Laity of Benin, several delegations of the Dominican Family members came from Ivory Coast , Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal, Rwanda. The Master of the Order and the General Curia were represented by the Socius for Africa. Also present were the Provincials of France, Nigeria, accompanied by a large delegation of brothers and Dominican Sisters; the Vicar Provincial of Equatorial Africa, the prior of Yaounde and several lay Dominicans from Cameroon.

At the beginning of the Mass, fr. Benjamin Sombel Sarr, prior vice provincial of the St. Augustine Vice Province in West Africa presented the new Archbishop and the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Cotonou read the Bull of appointment. The episcopal ordination itself took place after the homily of Cardinal Sarr based on the readings of the day (Jer 20: 7-17; Psalm 22; 1 Cor 9: 16-23; Jn 10: 11-18). The ritual of the sacrament had three highlights. First, the preparatory rites marked by the invocation of the Holy Spirit through the song of Vini Creator, the Dialogue between the Consecrator and the ordinand, prostration and the litany of the saints. Next come the essential rites of the sacrament marked by the imposition of hands of the principal Consecrator, the two co-consecrators and all the Bishops present, in a great meditative silence and very prayful. The prayer of consecration and the imposition of the Book of the Gospels conclude this second moment. Finally, additional rites took place around the anointing of the oil of chrism on the head, the presentation of the Gospels, the ring worn on the ring finger of the right hand, the mitre and the crozier. After the kiss of peace to mark the welcome of the new Bishop, Mgr Roger greeted the people of God and walked around the Assembly, blessing the faithful. He chose as the motto of his episcopate: "Caritas in veritate" is the full form: "Omnia omnibusfactus sum, in caritate and i veritate".

The welcoming ceremony and installation took place on Sunday, September 25, 2016 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mercies of Cotonou. It was chaired by Bishop Brian Undaigwe, Apostolic Nuncio in Benin and Togo, and attended by two Bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Cotonou, the Bishop Emeritus of Nice (France), and the presbyterium of the Diocese of Cotonou. The ceremony began with the imposition of the pallium. Then the Nuncio installed the new Archbishop in his cathedra, sat him down three times, placing the mitre on his head and giving him the crozier. Sitting in his cathedra, Archbishop Roger received the obedience of the priests of his diocese, the Major Superiors, the vice presidents of the parish pastoral council and catechists.

At 53, His Grace Roger Houngbedji is the eighth Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Cotonou which had some great figures like Cardinal Bernadin Gantin and Archbishop Isidore de Souza, among others. With an area of 3.344 Km2, an estimated population of 2.39 million including 749,179 Catholics, the Diocese of Cotonou has 414 priests of whom 361 are diocesan and 53 religious, 104 parishes, 65 professed religious brothers and 507 religious sisters.

Fr. Gabriel Samba, op.

 

(13 October 2016)