The first thing the newly installed pastor at the Blessed Sacrament Church did as parish leader was to bring light to his congregation — literally.
“The last father started installing light fixtures because the church is dark,” said Father Evaristus Ohuche, who began at the parish on May 1. “I finished the project so now people can see during Mass. They will be able to see and read with the light.”
Father Ohuche is one of three priests newly installed in Bronx parishes in the past few months. The Archbishop of New York’s office made the announcement, along with eight other priests that were shuffled throughout the archdiocese, in mid-July.
Along with Father Ohuche, Father Jose Rivas, who has served as parochial vicar at St. John Chrysostom since 1998, was also moved to St. Athanasius Church on Tiffany Street. Father Ricardo Fajardo has joined Holy Spirit Church on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard.
The diocese decided to bring Father Ohuche to Blessed Sacrament from his post as parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth’s Parish in Manhattan. The CUNY graduate and former aerospace engineer was also parochial vicar at St. Benedict’s in Throggs Neck from 2006 to 2008, and before that he served Incarnation parish in Manhattan, from 2002 to 2006. He was ordained a pastor in 2002.
During his time at Blessed Sacrament, Ohuche hopes to bring more Catholics from the community into the church. Currently the congregation has about 1,000 registered parishioners, and more than 2,000 come to services every Sunday, he said.
“We would like to see that increase,” he said. “We have a lot of Catholics in this neighborhood. Maybe they lost their way, or are on a vacation from their faith, so we want to help them realize that God is a part of our lives every day.”
He plans to expand the parish by increasing youth programs and building stronger relationships with community groups. He also hopes to encourage local Catholics to join Holy Spirit during his tenure leading the parish by expanding community services. He began heading the parish on July 1, and hopes to focus his outreach on immigrants that settle in the University and Morris Heights communities. About 800 parishioners come to the church each week, he said.
“We have a great Spanish and Afro-American community here. It is a great mixture,” he said. “We’re open for everybody. We’re trying to be as involved as possible to each group and their needs.”
Being ordained in the Diocese of La Vega in the Dominican Republic, and having served as parochial vicar of St. Catherine of Genoa in Manhattan since 1999, this is his first time serving in the Bronx. “I am very enthusiastic and happy to serve this community,” he said.
Father Rivas did not return calls for an interview.