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Brief History


Pope John Paul II Major Seminary Okpuno (Awka South L.G. A) was opened on November 20, 1997, then as a campus of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu.  The opening of this seminary was necessitated by the need to decongest Bigard Memorial Seminary, whose population shooted above one thousand (1,000) seminarians when Owerri and Calabar provinces were created. With the creation, Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri became the senior seminary for Owerri Province and St. Joseph’s Major Seminary Ikot Ekpene became that of Calabar Province.  The seminarians of the dioceses of Onitsha province had to be contained only in Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu. With over one thousand seminarians in Bigard, formation became quite inadequate and the solution was the building of a new seminary – Bigard Memorial Seminary, Awka Campus (now Pope John Paul II Major Seminary Okpuno) – by the Bishops of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province.

When the seminary was founded in 1997 as a campus of Bigard Enugu, it resided at Awka Diocesan Spiritual Year Center (Holy Family). In 2000, the seminary arrived at its permanent site – its present location. Here it acquired the name Pope John Paul II Major Seminary in memory of the second visit of Pope John Paul II to Nigeria in 1998, a visit during which he beatified Rev. Fr. Michael Cyprian Iwene Tansi.

Following the decision of Onitsha provincial Bishops, the Metropolitan of the province Most Rev. Valerian M. Okeke applied to Rome for the autonomy of Pope John Paul II Major Seminary. This was granted in 2012. Thus, Pope John Paul II Major Seminary is now a seminary on its own right.

This 2018/2019 Formation/Academic Year is the 20th year of Pope John Paul II Major Seminary. This year, we have 255 seminarians, 16 full-time lecturers 11 of whom are resident formators, 4 come from outside the seminary to lecture and 1 is on Sabbatical leave. We have also 14 part-time lecturers and 42 non-tutorial workers.