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Parishioners celebrate priest’s landmark

Members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Fairfield Bay and St. Jude Parish in Clinton are busy with plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Father Oliver Ochieze’s priesthood.

Father Oliver, as he is called by his parishioners, was ordained Sept. 4, 1988, in Orlu, Nigeria.

“My entire family and our community attended the ordination,” Ochieze recalls. “I felt great joy but a touch of fear also because I did not know where I would go, or what might happen.”

After his ordination in 1988, Ochieze earned advanced degrees in moral theology and education from the Catholic Institute of West Africa. He has also earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a doctorate in pastoral counseling from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana.

In September 1999, he was reassigned to Arkansas at the request of Bishop Andrew J. McDonald, then bishop of Arkansas.

After assignments to St. Mary and St. Patrick churches in North Little Rock, he spent time at churches in Fordyce and Sheridan before coming to Van Buren County in 2008 to shepherd St. Francis and St. Jude parishes.

Ochieze arrived just in time to oversee the fundraising and rebuilding of the church at St. Francis of Assisi.

On Sept. 4, 2013, St. Francis and St. Jude parishioners, along with Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will celebrate Ochieze’s 25th Jubilee beginning at 4 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church. Following mass, the public burning of the mortgage for the remodeling of St. Francis Church will take place outside the hall. The celebration will end with a dinner for parishioners of both parishes and invited guests in the Father Cal Fellowship Hall Jubilee beginning with mass at 4 p.m. at St. Francis

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