New chaplain for Utah’s Holy Cross Hospitals

Friday, Jul. 05, 2024
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Father Gregory Ezeanya recently arrived in Utah to serve as chaplain at Holy Cross Hospitals’ five facilities along the Wasatch Front. He will be working side by side with Father Godwin Tema Nnamezie, who is the director of mission integration, spiritual care, volunteer services and community health improvement for CommonSpirit Health, which manages the Holy Cross Hospitals in Utah.

Ordained a priest in 1989 for the Archdiocese of Onitsha in Nigeria, Africa, Fr. Ezeanya has been in the United States since 2008, serving as a Catholic chaplain at hospitals in Texas, Indiana, California and, for the past 10 years, in Pueblo, Colo. He became a U.S. citizen in 2013.

“The invitation to come to Utah became a reality when on the job market I found my dream job of serving human kindness posted on the CommonSpirit website,” Fr. Ezeanya said about coming to Utah.

Fr. Ezeanya said that he was fortunate to be granted the opportunity to work at Holy Cross Hospitals.  

“I have long desired to touch humanity by caring for the sick and, by doing so, bringing relief to the needy children of God, and consequently bringing the divine mission of Christ to humanity,” he said.

Here in Utah, “I have been warmly welcomed with a hearty reception these past couple of weeks,” he said.

His call to the priesthood came when he was young.

“As a little kid, I desired to join the altar servers,” he said. “This desire was fulfilled, and I took interest in joining the pastor to station Masses just for the joy of serving at Mass.”

In the late 1960s, Fr. Ezeanya joined the Block Rosary Crusade prayer group, going from house to house in the evening to pray the rosary in people’s homes. He also became an altar server at Mass.

“By the special grace of God, I was supported by my mother, who did all it took to get me on board in pursuit of that dream,” Fr. Ezeanya said.

 In 1974, he entered seminary to continue his education. Then, “having been ordained a Catholic priest in 1989, I was motivated to serve God through humanity, which culminated in offering care and comfort to the people of God by way of home care visitation during sick calls and eventually now in the hospital setting as spiritual care chaplain,” he said.

Father Gregory’s education credentials include a higher diploma in philosophy from Joseph’s Major Seminary in Ikot-Ekpene, Nigeria; a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado State University-Pueblo; and a master’s in divinity with concentration in Roman Catholic theology and ministry from Bigard Memorial Seminary, in Enugu, Nigeria.  

 Priesthood can be defined in one word: service, “and that means serving God through humanity,” he said, adding that, taken from the scriptural point of view, “priesthood is a significant role of standing as guard in God’s house, making sacrifices for God’s people and instructing the people so that they may enjoy God’s blessing. The purpose is that priests are enabled to act in God’s name for the salvation of the human family. Priesthood is God’s chosen people who are learned experts in the technique of worship and accepted as religious and spiritual leaders. These chosen people act in God’s name for the salvation of the human family, calling down God’s blessings on them.”

His goal and expectation serving the CommonSpirit Holy Cross hospitals in Utah “is to extend the hand of divine human kindness to all God’s children, irrespective of their individual and personal denominational faith affiliation, so that all peoples will see and witness the great love of God, who loves his people and does not discriminate amongst them,” he said.

He wants to make a difference by “touching humanity by bringing the spirit of God’s love to them,” Fr. Ezeanya said. “This includes caring for the sick and bringing relief to the needy children of God – and as such, accomplishing the mission of Christ to humanity on Earth.”

Fr. Ezeanya is fluent in his African mother tongue, Ibo, as well as English, “because it is our second common language in my country of Nigeria,” he said, adding that in school he studied Latin, French, Greek and Hebrew, but he is not at the level of conversing in them .

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