New priest to U.S. installed as pastor in diocese

By Joanna Puddister King
PORT GIBSON – On Aug. 25, a sunny summer Sunday, a new priest was installed at St. Joseph parish in Port Gibson.
Bathed in a calming blue hue from the cobalt-stained windows this unique Gothic Revival style parish was filled with a diverse group of faithful to welcome Father Anthony Claret Onyeocha.
Originally from Nigeria, Father Anthony was ordained in 2010 for the Archdiocese of Owerri in Imo State, Nigeria. By the end of his seminary training, Father Anthony received a bachelor of arts in philosophy and a degree in theology, as well.
In 2018, Father Anthony came to the U.S. to tour Mississippi and travel around the diocese. “After spending some time in Mississippi, I felt like serving the local church in the diocese,” said Father Anthony.
Upon returning to Nigeria from his time in Mississippi, he visited Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna, who has served as archbishop of Owerri since March 1994, and asked to be sent on a mission to serve the Church in the Diocese of Jackson.
Subsequently, Father Anthony was approved by Bishop Jospeh Kopacz to serve the diocese and was placed at St. Joseph.
During the Rite of Installation ceremony conducted by Bishop Kopacz, Father Anthony was presented with scriptures, blessed oil, a basket, baptismal shell and Roman Missal from parishioners to officially welcome him to the parish.
At the close of Mass, parishioners celebrated Father Anthony and introduced him to some traditional southern fare: fried and baked chicken, potato salad, bacon baked beans, along with a host of casseroles and homemade desserts.
Father Anthony says, “I feel happy being the pastor of St. Joseph. … The parishioners are great, welcoming and dedicated. As their pastor, I am willing to serve spiritually, morally and pastorally.”