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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

111017 fr aLEXINGTON — A much anticipated day for the parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary Church finally arrived Oct. 30, when Father Ambrose Akinwande was officially installed as their pastor.
The newly renovated church in Lexington was filled to capacity for the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Peter Jugis.

Among those in attendance were visiting clergy from near and far, including priests from Father Akinwande’s religious order, the Missionary Society of St. Paul: Father George Okeahialam, regional superior from Houston, Texas, and Father Romanus Ezeugwu, pastor of St. Benedict Church in Savannah, Ga.

Also present were Father Basil Sede, pastor of St. Benedict Church in Winston-Salem; Father Peter Nouck, parochial vicar of Holy Family Church in Clemmons; Father Felix Nkafu, parochial vicar of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem; Father Henry Tutuwan, parochial vicar of St. Thérèse Church in Mooresville; Father Jim Turner, pastor of Our Lady of the Highways Church in Thomasville; and Father Sylvanus Idiong, a visiting priest from Nigeria.

The Lexington parish is Father Akinwande’s first assignment as a pastor.

His faith journey began as a little boy in Lagos, Nigeria, when he and his family, all of whom are devout Catholics, attended yearly celebrations hosted by the Missionary Society of St. Paul. At 21, he entered the seminary, and he was ordained to the priesthood on June 23, 2007. In 2012, after serving as administrative secretary to his superior general in Nigeria, he was assigned to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in Texas.
Shortly after that assignment, Father Ambrose (as he became affectionately known) was transferred to St. Matthew Church in Charlotte in early 2013.

In December 2015, Father Ambrose arrived at Our Lady of the Rosary Church to serve as parochial administrator.

Those who know him and have served with him agree that he is full of compassion, energy and the desire to instill in his flock a respect and acceptance for all, and the need to forgive and to love one another unconditionally.

Father Kolawole John Paul Arowosoge said of his friend of 17 years, “Although we both grew up in the city of Lagos, it was not until I went to the seminary that I got to meet and know him. After all these years, the one thing I can say that is unchanged about him is that he is principled, hard-working and has a sincere personality. Ambrose would challenge me with the truth like an elder brother would, even when I was the auxiliary (i.e., student leader). He has the gift of wisdom and would stand for justice even if everyone is against it. He would always say that he is first accountable to God and then to authorities. As a leader, he sees himself as a servant, ready to lead in the front by example. One thing all would notice about the meticulous Ambrose is that, despite the fact that he would challenge wrongs no matter whom it may concern, he is very, very respectful in his approach and dealings with everyone.”

111017 fr a2111017 fr a2For the installation Mass, Father Akinwande chose the Mass of the Holy Spirit, praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as he formally begins his pastoral work of teaching, governing and sanctifying his congregation.
Bishop Jugis asked the people of the parish to pray for their new pastor and help him in the work of the Church, which is to bring people closer to God.

The bishop also congratulated and thanked the parish for its successful renovation project.

“The buildings support the ministries and support our path, our walk to eternal salvation,” he said. “What a wonderful work, a beautiful work, you’ve done right here in your parish church, in your renovation and remodeling of this beautiful church.”

— Julia Fredrica Foy Michaels, Correspondent