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Teso Clergy Mourns Bishop Emeritus Thomas Edison Irigei :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Teso Clergy Mourns Bishop Emeritus Thomas Edison Irigei

Rt. Rev. Dr. Charles Ebitu Obaikol, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Soroti, highlighted Bishop Irigei's humble nature and dedicated work, citing the establishment of Teso Diocese Planning and Development Organization CoU (TEDDO) in 2002, following the creation of the Kumi Diocese in 2001.
Bishop Emeritus Thomas Edison Irigei (CoU Photos).
The clergy in the Teso sub-region have fondly described the late Bishop Emeritus Thomas Edison Irigei of Kumi Diocese as a humble, hardworking individual who played a pivotal role in fostering peace and development in Teso. Bishop Irigei, 69, passed away at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital on Tuesday due to complications with his breathing. 

Rt. Rev. Dr. Charles Ebitu Obaikol, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Soroti, highlighted Bishop Irigei's humble nature and dedicated work, citing the establishment of Teso Diocese Planning and Development Organization CoU (TEDDO) in 2002, following the creation of the Kumi Diocese in 2001. TEDDO, serving both dioceses, focuses on community empowerment through governance, conflict resolution, integrated secure livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, and water, hygiene, and sanitation initiatives. 

Bishop Obaikol emphasized Bishop Irigei's significant contributions to education, notably his role in founding Bishop Ilukor Secondary School and enhancing other educational institutions within the diocese. “It’s a sad moment for Teso. We worked together and shared a lot in common. We used to move for our meetings in Kampala in one car, something not common with the bishops. We remember him with very great affection,” he said on the phone. 

Bishop Obaikol further conveyed his sentiments to his successor, retired Bishop Rt. Rev. George William Erwau of Soroti Diocese, reminiscing on their shared college years and time as curates in Ngora. In a condolence message addressed to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Dr. Samuel Stephen Mugalu Kazimba, the Rt. Rev. Michael Okwi Esakhan, Bishop of Kumi Diocese, lamented the loss of Bishop Irigei, describing him as a pillar of development and peace-building in Teso. 

“We thank God Almighty for the gift of His Life and Salvation, calling and ministry as a Christian, Lay Reader, chaplain, Parish Priest, Bishop of the Diocese of Kumi, and former Provincial Dean of the Province of Church of Uganda. We associate with the entire body of Christ, His family Toto Jennifer and family, and the entire body of Christ in the diocese of Kumi,” he said in a message shared on the Teso social media platforms.      

Bishop Kosea Odongo of Soroti Diocese mourned the loss, expressing deep sorrow and describing Bishop Irigei's passing as a significant setback for the people of Teso and the Church of Uganda. He stated, "In the army of the Lord and the leadership of the church of Uganda, another general has fallen. This death brings a lot of pain and sadness to us as we had hoped for his full recovery so that he could continue being a faithful witness for Christ even in his retirement.”   

The late bishop's funeral is scheduled for Monday, December 11, 2023, at St. Phillips Cathedral in Ngora district, according to Bishop Esakhan. Born on December 28, 1954, in Kumi district, Bishop Irigei was elected as the first bishop of Kumi Diocese by the House of Bishops on January 13, 2001. Kumi diocese comprised of Kumi, Ngora, and Bukedea districts. 

He attended Akadot Primary School (P. 1 to P. 5) and Mukenngere Rock Primary School (P. 6 to P. 7). Later, he studied at Soroti Secondary School before training as a lay leader at the Diocese Training Centre Ngora. Subsequently, he pursued theological studies at Bishop Tucker Theological College, Mukono, earning certificates, a diploma, and eventually a degree. 

He served as a lay leader at Akadet Church from 1979 to 1980 and as a hospital chaplain at Ngora FredCarr Hospital from 1983 to 1987. He is survived by his widow, Jennifer Irigei, and their children.