Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, former Auxiliary Bishop of Awka has been appointed as the new Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Nnewi. Bishop Okoye was born in Kaduna on January 25, 1963, to the family of Mr. Patrick and Mrs. Theresa Anazoba Okoye of Amata, Adazi-Nnukwu, Anaocha LGA of Anambra State. He began his primary education in 1971, at Ojiako Primary School, Adazi-Nnukwu, went back to Kaduna in 1972 to continue his education at St Gregory Primary School, and later came back to Ojiako Primary School to complete his primary education. He gained admission into St Paul’s Seminary, Ukpo in 1976, and later went to All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha in 1978. In 1983, his Bishop, the then Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. A.K. Obiefuna sent him to Bigard Memorial Seminary, Ikot Ekpene (now St Joseph Major Seminary), for his philosophical studies. He had his one year apostolic teaching experience at St John Bosco Seminary, Isuaniocha after his graduation from Ikot Ekpene.
Then, he was sent to do his theology at Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu in 1988. He was ordained a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Awka in 1992 by Most Rev. A.K. Obiefuna, at St Andrew’s, Adazi-Nnukwu. After his ordination, Okoye worked in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Ezinifite (as Vicar). He also worked as Parish Priest of St Peter’s, Oko; he became a Defender of the Bond in Awka Diocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal in 1993. He went to further his studies in Canon Law at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), 1995-1997. When he came back from CIWA, he became the Parish Priest of St John’s Catholic Church, Neni; Chaplain of the Knights of St. Mulumba, Anaocha Sub-Council; Dean, Neni Deanery; and Vice Officialis, Awka Diocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal. In 2002, he was sent by his Bishop to continue his studies in Canon Law at St Paul University, Ottawa, Canada.
He then went from there to Lateran University, Rome, where he obtained his doctorate in Canon Law with Summa cum Laude (Highest Honours). Coming back to Nigeria, he was appointed the Parish Priest of Immaculate Heart Parish, Ekwulobia; St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, Amawbia, and also Dean of Amawbia Deanery; St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Awka and Dean of Awka Deanery II. He became the Judicial Vicar of the Catholic Diocese of Awka and a Judge in the Onitsha Interdiocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal. He held various ecclesiastical appointments and offices at diocesan, regional and national levels. In 2014, he was appointed the Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, an office he held until his appointment as the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese.