Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Richard Appora, OP

Monseigneur Richard Appora, op

On Saturday, March 25, 2017, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, fr. Richard Appora, OP, was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Bambari in the Central African Republic (CAR). The ordination took place in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Bangui, during a Mass presided over by Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangui, and principal consecrator. His Lordship Pierre Raffin, OP, Bishop Emeritus of Metz from France was the first consecrator, and His Lordship Cyr-Nestor Yapaupa, Bishop of Alindao, a neighbour of the diocese of Bambari was the second consecrator. Eight bishops of the nine dioceses in the CAR were present at the celebration. Also present was the President of the Central African Republic, His Excellency Faustin-Archange Touadera and his wife, the Vice-President of the National Assembly, members of the government, as well as representatives from other religions.

At least two hundred priests from all over the country, many religious, male and female, hundreds of faithful, including those from the Diocese of Bambari and from Cameroon, relatives, friends and acquaintances of Bishop Richard, also took part in the ordination.

The Dominican presence was remarkable: brothers, apostolic sisters, laity and Dominican youth came to support their brother. The Master of the Order, fr. Bruno Cadoré was represented by his Socius for Africa, fr. Gabriel Samba. The Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of France, fr. Michel Lachenaud, was there in person, as well as two former Vicars of the Provincial Vicariate of Equatorial Africa: frs. François Dominique Charles and Maurice Billet, not to mention the current Vicar Provincial, fr. Jean-Paul Kamaheu and all the vicarial council. The Vice-Province of St. Augustine in West Africa was represented by fr. Paul Dago, who came from Abidjan, while the Vice-Province of St. Pius V of the D.R. Congo was represented by fr. Louis-Marie Bambou who came from Kinshasa. The list is far from being exhaustive!

At the opening of the celebration, after the presentation of the ordinand by the Provincial of France, the “chargé d'affaires” of the Nunciature of Bangui read out the letter of apostolic mandate. In his homily, Cardinal Nzapalainga relied on the three readings of the Annunciation to emphasize the three functions of the bishop, namely, to teach, to sanctify and to govern. Given that the Diocese of Bambari is in the area still being occupied by armed groups, the cardinal invited Bishop Richard to be courageous and to support the faith of this people very much affected.

The episcopal ordination properly speaking consisted of three principal rites. First the preparatory rites with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the interrogation of the ordinand and the litany of the Saints. Then the essential rites marked by the imposition of the hands of the three consecrators and all the Bishops present, the imposition of the book of the Gospels on the head of the ordinand, and the consecratory prayer. The rites of ordination ended with the complementary rites: anointing of the head of the new Bishop with the oil of the Holy Chrism, remissions of the Gospel, the ring, the mitre and the crook, and finally the Kiss of peace. Accompanied by the second consecrator, the new Bishop blessed the faithful by going around the whole cathedral.

After communion, there were three speeches. First was the message of the Master of the Order read by his Socius for Africa. Brother Bruno invites Bishop Richard to realize his vocation as a preacher now through his episcopal ministry, being attentive to the thirst for God of our contemporary world. The Provincial of France, asked Bishop Richard to be simple and close to the people. Finally, Bishop Richard gave thanks to God for all his blessings.

On Sunday, 26 March, His Lordship Richard presided over a Mass of thanksgiving in the church of the community of our brothers in Bangui where he still resides. He will be joining his diocese of Bambari after a Mass of thanksgiving that he will celebrate in his parish of Bangui, on Sunday 2nd April. The massive participation in the ordination of Bishop Richard testifies that the brothers are well integrated into the local Church.

Good and fruitful episcopal ministry, dear brother, Bishop Richard Appora, op.

fr. Gabriel Samba, op.


(29 March 2017)