When Fr. Kenneth Oguzie thinks of all the things he loves about the priesthood, the sacrifice of the Mass is his favorite.
“Each time I celebrate the Mass, it’s like the first time,” he says. “Even after all of these years, I can’t put the experience into words. It’s so profound.”
In particular, Fr. Kenneth loves the part of Mass where the congregation says, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands.”
“Wow,” he says. “That makes me teary-eyed. Who am I to be given this level of trust?”
Fr. Kenneth came to us from Nigeria in August of this year. He has been a priest since July 10, 2004, and has a Ph.D. from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Before his recent return to the United States, he was in Nigeria for retreats and reflection. His mother, three brothers, one sister, and their families live in Nigeria.
“When I was back in Nigeria, it was such a joy to be with my nieces and nephews,” Fr. Kenneth says.
The Catholic Mass is very much the same no matter where it is celebrated. But in Africa, some things are different culturally with the Mass. African Masses usually span almost two hours. More time is spent in worship and prayer, and the homily is often much longer.
“They want the homily to resonate with their lives,” Fr. Kenneth says. “The homily has to be practical to them. They want to have the hope of Jesus in their plight and to know that Jesus listens and understands.”
Fr. Kenneth likens the African Mass to the way he’s seen Hispanic Masses celebrated.
A large part of Fr. Kenneth’s prayer life involves reading the Bible. He loves to begin every day by reading a few verses of Scripture. Fr. Kenneth’s favorite verses include 1 Corinthians: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
“That verse encourages me when I don’t have hope,” Fr. Kenneth says. “It elevates my mind.”
Fr. Kenneth is always looking to make his priesthood a happy one.
“The Gospel is good news,” he says.
Reflecting on his vocation, Fr. Kenneth recalls that he didn’t take a direct path from school to the priesthood. He wanted to study medicine but felt called by God to the priesthood. While studying medicine, he had no sense of direction or joy.
“When I finally left medical college and embraced what God was calling me to do, I felt a sense of joy,” he says.
What has amazed Fr. Kenneth the most is how the people of Our Lady of Lourdes have welcomed him. From the parish staff to the people in the pews, he has felt so welcome.
“It’s like people were eagerly awaiting my arrival,” he says. “Everyone has been so joyful and open to me. I’ve felt so at home since coming here. There’s been nothing to complain about.”
In his free time, Fr. Kenneth enjoys exercising, whether that be outside or at the gym. He also loves to read, go on retreats, cook, and spend time in nature.
“I believe nature is not for nature’s sake,” he says. “It is the spirit of God. I try to connect with God wherever I am and see God in all creation.”
Welcome to our parish family, Fr. Kenneth! We are so glad to have you here with us!