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Holy Family Cathedral » News, Rector » An Interview with Father Jovita Okonkwo

An Interview with Father Jovita Okonkwo


Are you looking forward to your new assignment?

Fr. Jovita: Yes, I’m excited about the new assignment.

When you are installed as the twelfth Rector of the Cathedral, you will be the only one with a Doctorate. Where did you get your degree? What kind of degree is it?

Fr. Jovita: I might not have defended my doctoral dissertation by the 30th of November; hence, I would not have a doctorate by then. It might stretch till spring next year. It’s safe to just say that I’m a PhD candidate of the University of Oklahoma. My degree will be in Interdisciplinary Studies, with focus on Organizational Dynamics/Leadership.

You have a reputation as a good homilist. Where did you learn to preach?

Fr. Jovita: I have been told several times that my homilies are well-received. I am not sure how they are, because I do not consider myself a good homilist. When I listen to good homilists I know, it’s hard to even think that I preach well.

Father Jovita Okonkwo 2014You and Father Louis are from nearby dioceses in Nigeria. Did you know each other before you came to Oklahoma?

Fr. Jovita: Fr. Louis and I attended the same major Seminary in Nigeria (Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu).

How is the Church in Oklahoma different from the Church in Nigeria?

Fr. Jovita: You mean, how is the Church in the United States different from the Church in Nigeria? Oklahoma has two dioceses, while Nigeria as a country has 53 dioceses and two apostolic vicariates. Not as many as we have in the United States, yet that’s quite a number. The only difference I perceive is in terms of cultural beliefs and practices. The Church is one. Some people say that a good number of Americans perhaps put their country first, before their faith; whereas in Nigeria, faith comes before country. I somewhat agree with that assertion.

When you came to Tulsa, you spent time at Holy Family. What were your first impressions of the parish?

Fr. Jovita: I did not live at Holy Family when I first moved to Tulsa. I lived at Saints Peter and Paul and helped out at Holy Family Parish and School. I was happy to serve under Monsignor Gier and Monsignor Halpine, and to be involved with the school. I loved Gier’s humor and Halpine’s smile. I taught Religion classes then and have delightful memories of the students who attended Holy Family School.

Do you have a message for the people of Holy Family?

Fr. Jovita: I look forward to meeting the faithful of Holy Family Cathedral Parish. My desire is that under our pastor, the bishop, we’ll all pull together to become more intentional about our Catholic faith and as disciples and members of Jesus’ family.

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