His Lordship Bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki was born on August 8, 1957 in Layibi, Gulu to Mr. Donasiano Okello (RIP) and Mrs. (Mego) Georgina Awoo. He grew up in a lovely family with four sisters and three brothers. While studying at Holy Rosary Primary school, he loved serving as altar boy during Mass at Holy Rosary Church. He always went for Mass in the mornings and took part actively. After completing primary school in 1971, he was admitted to the Minor Seminary of Aboke and then Lacor Minor Seminary from 1974-76. He joined Katigondo National Major Seminary for Philosophical studies from 1976-1979 and Ggaba National Major Seminary for Theological studies from 1980-1983.
On September 10, 1983, at the St. Joseph's Cathedral Parish, Gulu diocese, Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki, then a Deacon was
ordained Priest by Bishop Cipriano Dr. Kihangire. His Brother Priests ordained together with him are; Fr. Christopher Ocan
(RIP), Fr. Emmanuel Akumu-Okot, Fr. Matthew Okun-Lagoro, Fr. Mattew Ojara, Fr. Vincent Ojok Adot (Msgr.) Bishop Kihangire
then sent him to Kitgum Mission where he served as Curate of Christ the King Church, parish and Omiya Anyima sub-parish
as well from 1983-5. In 1985 he was appointed private Secretary of Bishop Kihangire, and at the same time Chaplain of Christ
the King Primary Teachers' College and Sacred Heart Secondary School in Gulu.
On October 11, 1985, Fr. Sabino was sent for further studies at the Catholic Institute of Eastern Africa in Nairobi (CHIEA), now known as Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He graduated with a Licentiate degree in Theology in 1987, and obtained a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in January 1992. His thesis was on "Death Rituals among the Lwos in Uganda; Their significance for the Theology of Death." Rev. Fr. Sabino returned to teach at Alokolum National Major Seminary. He established a Pastoral Centre, St. Mauritz, Obiya Palaro Rajab. It is now a vibrant St. Mauritz Parish with a Health Centre.
In October 1996, Fr. Sabino succeeded Msgr. John Baptist Odama as the Rector of Alokolum National Major Seminary. It was a period of intense insecurity at the time, and it made it very difficult for the seminarians, staff and support staff. In 1998, twenty five years of the existence of the seminary (Silver Jubilee) was celebrated. Fr. Sabino and staff of the seminary worked very hard to ensure that it was a success by engaging the media, foster parents and the community to be involved. "At the helm of the institution as Rector, seminarians, support staff found Fr. Sabino is very approachable, kind, and always available to help" says David Acire who has been working as a Plumber at the Seminary since 1996. Peter Owot who previously worked as a driver at the seminary and now at St. Mary's hospital, Lacor concurs with Acire. Around 2004, Alokolum Seminary was relocated to Bukalasa Seminary in Masaka due to the LRA war in northern Uganda. That period in "exile" meant the Rector had to work extra hard for effective functioning of the institution, being away from home. Rev. Fr. Sabino was Rector of Alokolum National Major Seminary until his appointment by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI as Auxiliary Bishop of Gulu Archdiocese on October 21, 2006.
As the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Gulu, Rt. Rev. Sabino Odoki worked very hard. He played a key role in the second diocesan synod convoked by the Archbishop, His Grace, John Baptist Odama. In 2009, at the Uganda Episcopal Conference, he was elected to reorganize the Uganda National Diocesan Priests Association (UNDIPA) and was its liaison Bishop for six years. Bishop Sabino heads the Commission for Doctrine at the Uganda Episcopal Conference. In October, 2009 he was transferred to Arua diocese as Apostolic Administrator for one year and subsequently appointed Bishop of Arua diocese from 2010 to date. As Bishop of Arua diocese, Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki chose the motto; Rooted in Christ's love for his pastoral work.
The anniversary celebration was well attended and graced by religious leaders; the Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Most Rev. Luigi Bianco, The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gulu, His Grace John Baptist Odama, Bishop of Nebbi diocese, Rt. Rev. Raphael p'Mony Wokorach, Bishop of Kotido diocese, Rt. Rev. Dominic Eibu. There were many Priests, the Religious (missionaries, nuns,brothers).
President Yoweri Museveni was represented by the minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi. Many Members of Parliament from the region attended
including Terego East County member of parliament and State Minister of Urban Development Hon. Mario Obiga Kania, Hon.Betty Aol Ocan; Woman member of parliament for Gulu
City ,Hon Avur Jane Pacuto, Pakwach district Woman Representative in parliament , Obongi County member of Parliament Hon.Bhoka Didi George, Maracha East County representative,
Hon.lematia Ruth Mollyondoru, Ayivu Division West Member of parliament, Hon.Lematia John, member of parliament for North County, Onzima Godfrey Aringa, Arua District Woman
Representative, Paparu Lillian Obiale , Alero Tom Aza West Moyo County representative in parliament, Aringa South County member of parliament Hon. Alioni Yorke Odria amongst
many other dignitaries cultural and religious leaders
The Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, His Excellency Archbishop Luigi Bianco extended heartfelt congratulations to Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki for his remarkable 40-year stewardship of the community of people of God. Archbishop expressed profound gratitude for the presence of civil leaders who turned in large numbers at the event for their shared higher purpose of serving the interests of the people. The Archbishop revisited the Pope's proclamation regarding a Synodal Church, emphasizing the values of participation, communion, and mission among both the Clergy and the Faithful. He urged the Clergy to draw closer to the hearts of the people and to have a deeper connection with the community of God.
The Speech was delivered by the Minister of Gender, labour and Social Dvelopment who represented the President at the anniversary celebration.
See H.E Speech below.
SPEECH BY: H.E. YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA. AT THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY IN PRIESTHOOD OF RT. REV. SABINO OCAN
ODOKI (BISHOP OF THE DIOCESE OF ARUA) EDIOFE CATHEDRAL, ARUA, 26TH OCTOBER, 2023.
I want to thank Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki, Bishop of the Diocese of Arua, for inviting me to witness and celebrate your 40th Anniversary, in Priesthood. I wish to congratulate you upon making forty years, in the service of the Church and God's people. I thank the Almighty God for your ministry and shepherding of God's people.
Today, we return honor and glory to the Almighty God, for his divine protection and blessings, upon your life and ministry. It is by the Lord's power, that you have been able serve the Church and remain true to the priestly vows which you made 40 years ago. I believe that the Almighty God will continue to magnify your ministry and stewardship, according to his divine will and purposes.
I want to use this occasion to thank the Church for playing an active role in shaping the morals of society, by condemning social ills like corruption, child abuse and sacrifices, early marriages, sexual perversions, etc.
I also commend the Church leadership for spearheading developmental projects in the communities. Faith-based institutions have supplemented Government efforts to raise people's standards of living, by extending health and educational services near the people. I thank you for ensuring that your followers achieve decent standards of living here on earth. Jesus Christ should serve as an example to all the Church. The Scriptures show that besides fasting and prayer, he also healed the physical ailments of the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, etc.
Additionally, he earned his bread by working alongside his father Joseph as a carpenter. Jesus was not a passive bystander or spectator in the development process of his society. He worked for both the spiritual and socio-economic uplift of society. This is what all Christians must emulate.
The benefits of development and socio-economic transformation are enjoyed by all people regardless of their religious identity or tribe or region. There is no religion or tribe that does not need a good road or a hospital or a school. It is in the best interest of everybody that Uganda continues to accelerate towards modernity, development and political stability. Therefore, I urge all Christians to continue being agents of positive change in society. You should not be limited to spiritual evangelism only. The total ministry of Jesus Christ involves catering also for the material needs of our people. The religious leaders should continue mobilizing communities to be active participants in Government programs geared towards eradicating poverty at household level.
The leadership of National Resistance Movement (NRM), has laid the foundation for socio-economic transformation by securing the entire country; building roads, hospitals, schools, water sources, dams to generate electricity and other public services. Finally, I, once again, want to congratulate Rt. Rev. Sabino Ocan Odoki, upon making 40 years, in Priesthood. I wish you good health and success, in all your future endeavors. I thank you all.