A new priest will be installed for two Antelope County churches on Wednesday.
Father Christopher Onuoha began his duties at the parishes of St. Francis of Assisi in Neligh and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tilden in June.
Fr. Onuoha will be officially installed as pastor by Archbishop George Lucas during Mass on August 19 at 5:30 p.m. at St. Francis in Neligh. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception statue, located outside the rectory, will be blessed after mass. A dinner, furnished by the ladies of St. Francis, will follow. Parishioners from both churches are invited to attend.
He became an ordained priest in 2006, but that wasn't always his plan.
The firstborn of seven children, Fr. Onuoha was raised in Nigeria. Although his father encouraged him to become a priest, it wasn't in his plans at the time. He graduated in both Microbiology and Medical Technology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Soon after, he was invited to Spain by the University of Cordoba for post-graduate research studies in Microbiology, and later moved to the United States with the intention of continuing his studies. But God eventually changed his heart.
"The priesthood issue, always there, resurfaced strongly years later on my arrival in the Unites States, when friends and acquaintances would tell me that I clearly had a vocation to the priesthood, but I did not always agree," Fr. Onuoha said. "I struggled for years to answer God’s call. I was afraid; I was running from God. But where could I run to? Finally, a friend encouraged me to make an 8-day silent, directed retreat with the then Intercessors of the Lamb; this nailed it all for me."
He was a religious with the Intercessors of the Lamb until it dissolved in 2010. Fr. Onuoha also began priestly studies and seminary formation at Kenrick Seminary and Saint Louis University, Missouri. He was ordained in June of 2006 and assisted in several Omaha parishes, most recently as the associate pastor at Saint Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.
"Priesthood has been so fulfilling for me," Fr. Onuoha said. "I could not imagine a greater gift from the hand of Almighty God. I have come to realize I was created for this. Priesthood is my path to holiness. The greatest discovery of priesthood for me is that 'God is love.' He called me to the priesthood because He loves me."
He has conducted numerous conferences on family healing and, after four years of writing, hopes to publish his first book, "Healing You and Your Family Tree: A Contemplative Approach to Personal and Generational Healing," by this October. Fr. Onuoha said it focuses on how to slow down and be attentive to God's presence and actions within us. The book is intended to teach how to identify and remove blocks to self-knowledge, and live more fruitful and fulfilled Christian lives. Visit his website for details: www.familyprayerministry.com.