Ikenna Paschal Okpaleke
Ikenna Paschal Okpaleke was born in Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria. He completed philosophical and theological studies at the St. Joseph’s Major Seminary Ikot-Ekpene and the Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri, both affiliates of the Pontifical Urban University, Rome, Italy. On Saturday 19 November 2011, he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by the Most Rev. Vincent Ezeonyia, C.S.Sp. (of blessed memory), within the Diocese of Aba, Nigeria.
After two years of pastoral work, following the commissioning of his bishop, Paschal departed for Leuven, Belgium in February 2014 to study theology at the Catholic University of Leuven. He majored in systematic theology, with specific research interests in ecclesiology, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, peace and conflict studies, contextual and intercultural theologies, theology of transformation, and Catholic social teaching. On 18 May 2020, he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled: Transformation through Dialogue: Ecumenical and Interreligious Identities in Nigeria. This interdisciplinary perspective (involving theology, sociology, and social psychology) critically explores the additional assets that churches involved in ecumenical dialogue could bring to the table of interreligious dialogue. Notwithstanding its possible applicability to other similar contexts, the dissertation is hinged on three contexts: the religious space of Nigeria, the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue (ARCIC/NARCC) and the Christian-Muslim dialogue. It develops the dialogical framework of integrated personalist approach and further deepens Michael Iprave’s Trinitarian patterning as tools for transforming dialogue.
During the period of his doctoral research, Paschal also served as a research assistant at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven (2016-2020), assisting in organizing conferences/seminars as well as in teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally, he was involved in some administrative services.