Pope Francis appoints Nigerian priest as permanent representative to UN

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu with Pope Francis 

Pope Francis has appointed a Nigerian priest of the Catholic Diocese of Abia, Abia State, an Apostolic Nuncio to the Antilles, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See – the Vatican – to the United Nations Office and Specialised Institutions in Geneva.

Pope Francis also appointed Archbishop Nwachukwu as permanent observer to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Representative of the Vatican to the International Migrations Organisation (IOM).

The appointment is contained in a press release by the Office of the Antilles Episcopal Conference Secretariat, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Friday, December 17, 2021, where Archbishop Nwachukwu is currently serving as Apostolic Nuncio.

Until his appointment, Archbishop Nwachukwu was transferred from Nicaragua to the current Mission in Trinidad and Tobago on November 4, 2017, and assumed office on March 19, 2018.

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According to the new appointment, Archbishop Nwachukwu will still remain in charge of the Mission in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and Antilles, until he departs for the new mission at the United Nations at the beginning of March 2022.

He is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Aba, in Abia State, ordained on June 17, 1984.

In January 1972, he was admitted into Immaculate Conception Seminary, Ahiaeke Umuahia, at the age of 11. 

Three years later, in 1975, he and some of his classmates were allowed to sit the last London GCE, before the West African Examination Council (WAEC) took over the organisation of the secondary school final examinations. His result was excellent.

He then taught Mathematics and Latin in the same seminary until 1977, when he was sent to continue his priestly formation at the newly opened Philosophy Faculty of the Bigard Memorial Seminary at Ikot Ekpene.

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From 1980 to 1984 he completed his seminary formation at the Theology Faculty of the same Bigard Memorial Seminary at Enugu.

He passed his Bachelor of Divinity examinations with a summa cum laude and was honoured to give the valedictory speech at the graduation of his class. That same year, 1984, on 17 June, the late Bishop of Umuahia, Rt. Rev. Anthony Gogo Nwedo, C.S.Sp., ordained him to the Catholic priesthood for the Diocese of Umuahia, at St Eugene’s Parish Church in Aba. He would later be transferred to the Diocese of Aba when it was created in 1990.

After his priestly ordination, Fr. Fortunatus worked as a teacher and later as vice-rector of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Umuahia, as well as parochial vicar and administrator of the St Anne’s Parish, Ibeku (1984-1986). 

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Concurrently, he served as the Diocesan vocations’ director, as well as the chaplain of the Federal College of Agriculture and the Umuahia Campus of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, both in Umudike-Umuahia.

In 1986, he was sent to Rome for specialization studies. He studied Scriptures at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule, Sankt Georgen, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Archbishop Nwachukwu speaks and understands several languages, beyond his mother tongue, Igbo, including English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, modern Hebrew and a bit of Arabic, as well as some ancient languages of Biblical research namely, Latin, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

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