The Josephites (The Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart) welcomed seven new priests on June 1 at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, rector of St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, DC, and bishop emeritus of Pensacola-Tallahassee, served as the principal celebrant and ordaining bishop at the joyful liturgy.
Family members from Nigeria lined the front rows of the church in support of the new priests: Father George-Bede Ajuruchi, SSJ; Father Emmanuel Olorunesan Awe, SSJ; Father Hyginus Ledum Boboh, SSJ; Father Cornelius Kelechi Ejiogu, SSJ;Father Bura Aloysius Koroba, SSJ; Father Anthony Okwum, SSJ; and Father Stephen Remilekun Sohe, SSJ.
The Josephites are a congregation of priests and brothers whose exclusive mission is to the African-American community. Founded after the Civil War to minister to newly freed slaves, the organization has served the African American community since 1871.
Father William L. Norvel, superior general of the Josephites, thanked all of the friends and relatives, educators who supported the young men throughout their years of study and priestly formation.
“Oh, happy day! It is with great joy to congratulate and welcome our newly ordained to the Josephite priesthood and the Society of St. Joseph,” Father Norvel smiled. “Thanks to the parents, for their first formation, for sending them to the Josephites. Thank you to St. Joseph who has been faithful to my prayers.”
Called “The Magnificent Seven” by those who know the newly ordained group, the priests, all from Nigeria, will be assigned to one of the 40 Josephite parishes nationwide.
The seven new priests participated in 11 years of formation in both the United States and in their home country before completing their master of divinity and theology degrees at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, DC.
“As a newly ordained priest, I feel I am called and chosen by God to take Christ to the world and to bring the world to Christ through my words and actions,” said Father Anthony Okwum.
Father Bura Aloysius Koroba, said this was “the most significant aspect of my call to the priesthood is the mystery that I am chosen as a consecrated priest to be Christ’s ambassador, a minister of God with the special privilege to give my life wholly to God whose Son gave up His own life for the salvation of humanity.”