Catholic Institute of West Africa

About Us

History & Background


The Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) is a higher Ecclesiastical Institute of the Catholic Church in the West African Sub-region. It was founded in 1981 by the then Association of Episcopal Conference of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA) for the study of theology and related disciplines in the socio-cultural context of West Africa. The Institute took off on the 8th of December 1981 at Ozuoba in Port Harcourt, Nigeria in a house formerly used by Jesuit Priests as a Retreat Centre. Its present proprietor is the RECOWA/CERAO.

It started with eight students and eight academic and administrative staff with the late Monsignor Stephen Ezeanya, who later became the Archbishop of Onitsha, as Rector. A year later, the Institute moved to its present site, a former minor Seminary as an interim solution to an acute accommodation problem. Presently, the Institute has an expansive staff Quarters at Obehie in Abia State, where most senior academic and administrative staff reside and which also contains a hostel for female religious students of the Institute. In September, 2014, CIWA took back possession of its campus at Obehie, which was used temporarily as a Take-Off Campus for the VERITAS University as the Catholic University relocated eventually to its permanent site in Abuja. Presently, the Obehie CIWA Campus accommodates all Undergraduate Programmes and the two cycles of Communication Studies.


Earlier in May 1994, the Institute was approved and canonically erected by the Holy See for award of Masters Degree in Theology (Licentia Canonica) as well as diplomas and certificates in Theology and related disciplines. CIWA therefore has pride of place as foremost institute of pontifical right in Africa. In 1987, the Institute was recognized by the Federal Government, following which the University of Calabar was mandated, through the National Universities Commission (NUC) to affiliate the academic Programme of the Institute. With the affiliation, the Institute now awards in addition to the canonical Degrees, the following secular Degrees: Bachelors in Religious Studies (B. Res), Masters of Theology (M.Th.), Masters of Arts in Pastoral Communication (MA) and Doctorate degree in Theology (PhD). In effect, students of theology at CIWA can take either the M.Th. or the STL or both.


The overall vision, mission and guiding principles of the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA) as an educational institution are encapsulated in the words of St. Augustine, a co-patron of the Institute (St. Thomas Aquinas is the other Patron), which the Institute has adopted as a Motto, namely: Semper Agents, Semper Quietus. This is a synthesis of Action and Contemplation, of Study and Prayer as general landmark of intellectual work and scholarship in a Christian context. The activities of the Institute are therefore fashioned to project in contextual systematic discourses, essential values of variant cultures and traditions of the West African sub-region. This is with a view to enhancing a better understanding and commitment of the Christian faith within the various socio-cultural contexts. Deep-rooted academic engagements; such activities as Community Mass, Annual Theology Week Programmes, Foundation Day & Patrons Day Celebrations; including other culturally-oriented institutional activities are avenues the Institute puts the phenomenon of contextualization and enculturation into practice.


In line with its vision and mission and in accordance with CIWA Statutes, the Institute has the following as its main objectives:

To promote scientific, analytical and critical study of Theology and related disciplines.
To train Church personnel in Christian Theology studied against the socio-cultural background of Africa.
To train church personnel in the communication of Christian Theology, using modern and contemporary communication technologies.
To produce teachers for Seminaries and other higher institutions of higher learning.


CIWA has three Faculties currently– The Faculty of Theology, Faculty of Canon Law and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. These Faculties have nine academic programmes, namely: Biblical Theology, Dogmatic Theology, Moral Theology, Pastoral/Spirituality, Liturgy, Canon Law, Religious Studies, Philosophy and Communication Studies. In addition, a Centre for the Study of African Culture and Communication (CESACC) was established in the 2003/2004 academic year. The Centre runs programmes at the first and second cycle levels (Diploma, Bachelors, Post Graduate Diploma, Masters And Doctorate Degree Programmes i Communication Studies).

At the Undergraduate level, the Institute also runs sub-degree Diploma and Certificate Programmes in Theology, Philosophy and Communication Studies. At this level, it has outreach programmes, through affiliation with some catechetical Centres located in different parts of the Nigeria. Through these outreach programmes CIWA reaches a considerable number of lay Christians.


Whereas at inception, CIWA had only eight (8) academic and administrative staff, presently, the Institute has more than thirty (200) academic staff with fifty (60) Senior/intermediate/junior staff. This shows a staff growth rate of great proportion.

We recognize the contributions of the following Rectors of the Institute.

Late Archbishop Stephen Ezeanya-1981 -1985
Cyriacus Mba (Late)-1985 – 1989
Very Rev. (Prof.) Peter Damian Akpunonu -1989 -1997
Very Rev. (Dr.) James Moti (Late) -1997 – 2006
Very Rev. Msgr. (Prof.) Felix Adeigbo (Late) – 2006-2014
Rt Rev Msgr Prof. Sylvanus Iniobong Udoidem – 2016 – Till date

These people made their impacts to be felt in the Institute during their respective tenures. Also, some staff who have left the services of the Institute for higher responsibilities or due to demand for their Dioceses and |Congregations are all part of the success story of the Institute. The Institute encourages hard work by absorbing brilliant students as academic staff from where they fully develop their potentials. The Institute appreciates deeply the unqualifiable contributions of the current Acting Rector, Very Rt Rev Msgr Prof. Sylvanus Iniobong Udoidem. He is a veteran member of CIWA academic and administrative staff.


The strength of the Institute is particularly hinged on the growing students’ enrolment over the years. With only eight (8) students at the year of inception, the Institute gradually and steadily recorded impressive increase in the number of candidates admitted for the academic programmes. Among numerous distinguished graduates of CIWA are Bishops, Rectors of Seminaries, diocesan Chancellors, University Lecturers and a host of other functionaries in responsible positions in the society. This is good for our region. It is indeed good for the Church.