Last month we welcomed Father Nathaniel from Nigeria to our parishes as our new Assistant Priest. We keep him in prayer as he takes up his ministry among us. Below, he gives us a few words about his background:
“I am NATHANIEL DILE ONWUEKWE. I was born on 14th January 1980 into the family of Late Mr Alexander and Ezinne Josephine Nwanneka Onwuekwe, in Ozubulu, of Anambra State, Nigeria. I have six siblings: five brothers (although one is late) and a sister. I am the last in the family. All my siblings are happily married with children. Thus, I have 21 nephews and nieces.
I was ordained a Catholic priest for the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Nigeria on 5th July 2008. On the 1st of August 2008, I was appointed the personal secretary/assistant to Papal Nuncio: Most Rev Jude Thaddeus Okolo, who is the presently the Papal Nuncio to the Republic of Ireland. I worked briefly in Nigeria as a parish vicar. In 2011, my Diocese in Nigeria, sent me to Switzerland for post-graduate studies. I studied for six years at the Facoltà di Teologia di Lugano, Switzerland (University of Lugano: USI). I obtained my Master’s Degree in 2013. On the 9th March 2017, I defended my Doctorate Degree, and was pronounced a Doctor in Moral Theology having made a First Class honours (summa cum laude). My doctoral thesis was on The Church, Suicide and Igbo Culture: A Moral-Pastoral Consideration. Presently, I am working towards its post-doctoral publication.
As a student-priest in Switzerland, I visited the Diocese of Northampton regularly for summer pastoral supply, at the request of the diocese. That took me to parishes in Burham, Slough, Daventry and Flitwick. At the end of my studies in Switzerland, my Bishop in Nigeria (Most Rev Hilary Paul Odili Okeke) graciously permitted me to work in the Diocese of Northampton as fidei donum.
Providentially, I am beginning this new page of my life with you: the Priest and parishioners of St Joseph’s Bedford & Our Lady’s Kempston. I look forward to having a life-enriching experience and stay with you all.”