Bishop Alonge’s 50th Episcopal Anniversary

RETIRED Catholic Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Most Reverend Francis Folorunsho Alonge, has put in decades of unblemished service to God and humanity. Having been ordained a priest in 1963, he rose to become the substantive Bishop of the Ondo Diocese, the first indigenous priest to occupy such a position in the Diocese. On this, the Most Reverend Alonge gave his full service to the church and humanity even in retirement till date.

THE young Francis was born to the Family of Pa Peter and Madam Veronica Alonge (both of blessed memory) in Ado Ekiti on March 1, 1935. His primary school education was at St. George’s Catholic Primary School, Ado Ekiti where he was fortunate to come under the influence of Reverend Father Anthony Ogunleye Oguntuyi, the first indigenous Catholic Priest of Ekiti land. This influence led him to the love of Church music and the singing of hymns. He and few of his mates were later grouped into a Church Choir that was then known as “The Cecilian Guild.”

He gained admission to Saint Theresa’s Minor Seminary, Oke-Are, lbadan, and Saint Paul’s Major Seminary, Benin city for his Priestly training but ended up at Saint Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan. At the completion of his Seminary training, he was ordained a Priest on June 29, 1963 by Most Reverend William Field, SMA.

LATER, he was admitted to Boston College, USA, for graduate studies in English Literature and later to Penn State University for Linguistics. On his return to Nigeria, he was posted to Annunciation School, Ikere-Ekiti, where he was as a teacher till his appointment as the Auxiliary Bishop of Ondo on December 17,1973.He was ordained into the Episcopacy on  April  21, 1974 and appointed to take over as the Bishop of Ondo on the Retirement of Bishop William FIELD, SMA. He took over the leadership of Ondo Diocese with 11 Parishes and closed his stewardship in 2010 with over 50.He had few indigenous Priests among the Missionaries, but by the time he left, he had over 80 Nigerian Priests.

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HE  built so many schools and hospitals, served as Secretary to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria for many years, elected Chairman for Communications for the West African Regional Conference of Bishops (CAMAWA) and for the Continental Episcopal Committee (CEPACS) as well.  He also served as the Chairman of Ondo State Health Management Board.

HIS remarkable interest in the continuous formation of his priests cannot be over emphasized, as he made sure that all his priests, after a couple of years in the priesthood were sent for further studies in the various fields as desired by the Church or the potentials in the individual priests. He did it in such a way that nearly each priest knew when it would be his turn to go for further studies as they were made to take place chronologically. Occasionally, there were some exceptions as a result of urgent needs of the Church – such was the case of Reverend Fathers Paul Osunyikanmi and John Oyewole.

FREE health for his priests and their parents was germane to Bishop Alonge; he would always advise his priests to remain healthy. His generosity to the individual or a group of people is unlimited. He can give anything that is within his reach to anyone, regardless of the tribe, colour or language of the person. Many are what they are today, thanks to Bishop Alonge’s generosity. He is a person who would practically empty his pockets to assist anyone. He has paid medical bills and school fees of uncountable number of people. Many have been favoured in many ways, just by mentioning his name or by presenting letters from him, at their various points of need. Today, his priests are always eager to celebrate him because of what and who he has been to them.

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MEMBERS of the press will always remember Bishop Alonge for his fatherly and remarkable impact at the yearly celebration of the World Communications Day. As we speak Bishop Alonge is still building an e-library for the use of the younger generation. Beyond the sanctuary and the sacristy, Alonge took keen interest in Architecture, English, classical music, church history, European history, thoroughness, table manners, good humour and especially prayer and patience.

BISHOP Alonge is one who ‘has generously served the Diocese of Ondo and the Church in Nigeria as a shepherd tending the flock entrusted to him with diligence and great responsibility.In the words of Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Bishop Alonge “led the church fruitfully, without scandals and still continue to serve and sustain the legacy.”

THE Hope congratulates and rejoices with this exemplary shepherd who for five decades had protected fiercely his flocks with uncanny love, dedication and prayers.  Bishop Alonge is very much mentally alert compared to his peers. He recollects dates and figures like a computer. We pray that God will continue to grant him excellent health and well-being to serve the church of God till it pleases his maker to call him.

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