Archdiocese welcomes new priest

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Archdiocese welcomes new priest

St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart was filled on Friday, September 15, as people from around Tasmania and overseas gathered to witness the ordination of Unyime Paschal Okpon to the priesthood.

The ordination marks the end of a long journey of vocational discernment and formation for Fr Paschal, 33, who spent seven years in a religious community in his native Nigeria, and then six months in Canberra before following a persistent call to the diocesan priesthood.

Fr Paschal’s mother Christiana, and relatives Anthony and Margaret Okpon, travelled from Nigeria to be present at the ceremony, and were joined by members of the Nigerian community in Tasmania. Priests from around Tasmania and from interstate gathered to concelebrate the Mass.

Archbishop Julian welcomed Fr Paschal to the service of the spiritual needs of the people in Tasmania.

His Grace emphasised that Fr Paschal was choosing to become a priest in what are “uncertain times”, including the rise of a serious intolerance of Christian faith.

“As you embrace the call to be a priest of Jesus Christ, the future of your ministry may be extremely challenging. Being a priest in these times will demand much of you,” His Grace said.

Fr Paschal thanked those who supported him in his journey towards the priesthood.

“My heart is filled with gratitude, so I want to thank the almighty God first of all because He is the one I have always looked upon on this journey. He has graced my life with so many opportunities that I know are not of my hand, nor of any other human hand,” he said.

He acknowledged his parents, including his father who passed away ten months ago.

“I know right now he’s in heaven rejoicing … I know he is proud of his son,” Fr Paschal said.

“And my mum who is present here tonight, you showed me the way to Jesus … You have given me the best gift of life.”

Fr Paschal asked those present to pray for him as he begins his priestly ministry.

Following the ordination, he bestowed his first blessing as a priest upon his family members, before individually blessing a long line of those who had come to support him.

Since the ordination, Fr Paschal has returned to Melbourne to continue his studies.

To watch Fr Paschal's ordination

View the photo album

To read Archbishop Julian's Homily