Fr. Peter Okonkwo
Father Peter Okonkwo was born in the Nigerian city of Onitsha on July 10, 1977 of Bartholomew and Maria Okonkwo. He was one of nine children, Mike, Anthony, Paul (Fr. Peter’s twin), Charles, Matthew (deceased), James and John (twins), and Emmanuel. He grew in a Christian family-oriented home and neighbourhood in the city where family members were very committed to each other.
Fr. Peter attended the Holy Trinity Primary School, a co-ed school in the city. He went on to attend the St. Dominic Savio Junior Seminary in 1991, which was equivalent to an all-boys Catholic secondary school.
Coming from a Christian home meant praying and going to Mass often, which was an early influence in Fr. Peter’s decision to become a priest later on in life. At the Cathedral where he worshipped, the parish priest was a family friend who encouraged vocation and that priest’s pastoral influence also factored in Fr. Peter’s decision. Additionally, First Communion and Confirmation candidates in the city would go home after school, refresh themselves then return to school for catechism which would end at 6.00 p.m. Following they would return home to take part in the block rosary. Each block in the city had a block rosary centre where Catholic children would gather to pray the rosary, and share the Word of God from 6.00 p.m. each evening.
In 2000 Fr. Peter entered the Pope John Paul II Major Seminary in Awka the state capital where he pursued a degree in Philosophy. He was among the first batch of students who were pioneers at this provincial seminary. He studied there until 2004. At the end of each year the students each worked within a parish for six weeks, took vacation, then returned to seminary. Fr. Peter found seminary challenging at first but settled down as time passed and overcame the challenges. Fr. Peter was a member of the Pro-life Movement, the Justice and Peace Association, the charismatic group and Legion of Mary.
After 2004, he did one-year pastoral work experience in the accounting department of a diocesan hospital.
From 2005 and 2009 Fr. Peter attended Blessed Iwene Tansi Major Seminary in Onitsha and graduated in July 2009 with a Bachelors in Theology. He was a member of the charismatic group and the pro-life movement. A month later, in August 2009 Fr. Peter was ordained and began his priesthood at the Immaculate Heart parish in the town of Ekwulobia assisting the parish priest. He stayed for two years and was deanery chaplain of the charismatic group and of the youth, he was also chaplain of a secondary school within the area.
Fr. Peter was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi parish during the years 2011 to 2013 where he was assistant to the parish priest. He was also the deanery chaplain and chaplain of the charismatic renewal movement and the parish youth. Fr. Peter continued his priestly journey in St. Paul’s parish in Obeledu from 2013 to 2014. He was the assistant to the parish priest, chaplain of the charismatic renewal group, deanery chaplain and youth chaplain. While posted there, he simultaneously pursued a post graduate diploma in education in the State University.
Fr. Peter arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines on March 8, 2015 along with longtime colleague, Fr. Boniface. Both were placed in the most recently established parish of Corpus Christi along the Southern coast of mainland St. Vincent. They shared pastorship of the three communities, Corpus Christi Community in Villa, St. Martin De Porres in Stubbs and Our Lady of Lourdes in Argyle. They subsequently shared pastorship of Holy Family parish in the Southern Grenadines and Corpus Christi parish simultaneously, alternating between mainland St. Vincent and the Grenadine Islands of Union, Canouan and Mayreau. Fr. Peter eventually remained sole pastor of Corpus Christi when his Nigerian brother in the faith was posted to Southern Grenadines. He has celebrated Mass in all the churches in the parishes throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines with the exception of Mustique.
Being a priest is not without its challenges but Fr. Peter continues to face the challenge of pioneering a new parish and unifying the three communities of Corpus Christi with enthusiasm. He is striving hard to have the three communities work together and to erect a building in which the Villa community can worship. He provides excellent pastorship and spiritual mentoring not only within his parish but also at the Cathedral. He works with the National Service Team as chaplain and is also chaplain of the Catholic schools – St. Mary’s R. C., St. Martin’s Secondary School for boys, St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown, an all-girl Catholic secondary school and St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua, a co-ed secondary school. He was also teacher of Religious Education at St. Martin’s Secondary School for one year.
This is Fr. Peter. His dedication. His stewardship.