Editor’s note: This profile is the last in a series featuring new religious leaders in Portales.
By Christina Calloway
Rev. Charles Ugochukwu had an intense social life as a child growing up in eastern Nigeria. It was during his childhood he discovered he wanted to be a priest through his service as an alter boy.
“It’s something enjoyable for those who are kids, being taught how to be close to God,” Ugochukwu said. “That was something wonderful.”
He preaches with that same joy today serving as St. Helen’s new priest. Ugochukwu started at St. Helen Catholic Church on July 1, coming from another church in Rio Arriba County. He will serve the Portales community and Eastern New Mexico University.
Ugochukwu comes from a family of six who he says laid the foundation for him. He worked in Nigeria for 10 years as a priest before he moved to America to attend school in New York.
Ugochukwu got his bachelor degree in philosophy and theology.
He eventually made his way to New Mexico through mission work.
“As a priest you’ve got to dispose of yourself to serve in any part of the country,” he said. “The Catholic church is universal. You make it your home.”
Within the 18 years he’s dedicated to the church, Ugochukwu said he never imagined doing anything else with his life and has no regrets in his decision to preach God’s word.
“I believe whatever happens in one’s life is the way God wants it,” he said.
While here he hopes to be an accessible member of the Portales community and has goals of strengthening the faith of people while drawing them closer to Christ.
“I want them to have a better relationship with Christ,” he said. “I’m grateful and I’m happy. I’ve never had any regrets at all.”