The Church of Uganda has confirmed the passing of their esteemed retired bishop, Thomas Edison Iregei. He peacefully passed away at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital around 12:00 AM on Tuesday morning.
Rev. Peter Omoding, the Diocesan Secretary for Kumi Diocese, shared the somber news, stating, “It’s true Papa has gone to the Lord. We are now planning a preparatory meeting for the funeral arrangements.”
While the cause of death remains undisclosed, Rev. Omoding assured that the church would issue an official statement and details on the funeral arrangements in due time.
Bishop Irigei was a remarkable figure in the Anglican Church, serving as the Bishop of Kumi in Uganda for two decades. His dedication and leadership spanned the terms of three Archbishops: The Most Rev. Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo, The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, and The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali.
Upon his retirement in December 2019, Bishop Irigei held the esteemed position of the Dean of the Church of the Province of Uganda, making him the most senior bishop in terms of years of service since consecration.
In a handover and abdication ceremony held at St. Phillip’s Cathedral in Ngora, Bishop Irigei relinquished his ecclesiastical and episcopal authority to the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali. As a result, Archbishop Ntagali assumed the role of Bishop of the Church of Uganda Kumi Diocese.
Following the Church of Uganda’s guidelines, Archbishop Ntagali appointed the retired Rt. Rev. John Charles Odurkami to serve as the caretaker bishop for the Church of Uganda Kumi Diocese for one year.
Due to unforeseen health issues and a prolonged episcopal transition period, Archbishop The Most Rev. Stephen Samuel Kazimba Mugalu extended Bishop Odurkami’s caretaking period until a new bishop for the Church of Uganda Kumi Diocese could be elected.
After two years since Bishop Irigei’s abdication, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, gathered at the Lweza Training and Conference Centre on February 9, 2022, elected Rev. Michael Okwii Esakhan as the second Bishop of Kumi Diocese.
Bishop-elect Michael Okwii Esakhan was consecrated and enthroned by His Grace The Most Rev. Stephen Samuel Kazimba Magalu at St. Philips Cathedral Ngora on March 6, 2022.
Throughout his tenure, Bishop Irigei ordained 68 priests, made four deacons, elevated several clergy to Canons, and recognized laity Canons.
When Kumi Diocese was established in July 2001, separating from Soroti Diocese, Rt. Rev. Edison Thomas Irigei served as its inaugural bishop. At the time of Kumi Diocese’s inception, Rt. Rev. Charles Benard Obaikol Ebitu served as the Bishop of Soroti Diocese.
Upon its establishment, Kumi Diocese comprised three archdeaconries: Ngora, Kumi, and Bukedea, with 31 parishes. Under Bishop Irigei’s leadership, the diocese experienced significant growth in the number of churches, parishes, and archdeaconries.
Bishop Irigei’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire and guide the Church of Uganda, and his unwavering commitment to the faith will forever be remembered.