After 23 years, the congregation at Sacred Heart Catholic Church has a new pastor.

The Rev. Albert Ezeanya, a native of Nigeria, was installed July 6 in a service presided over by Bishop Michael Sis of the Diocese of San Angelo. Ezeanya, who moved to Abilene from Eden, replaces the Rev. Robert Bush, who served the parish for 23 years.

Longtime members of the church, like Nora Holzhauer, acknowledged that the transition will be difficult and getting used to a new priest will take time. Bush was beloved at Sacred Heart, Holzhauer said, and losing him is painful.

“I’m sad, I’m really sad,” she said. “It’s hard right now.”

Bush, 75, was reassigned as parochial vicar in reduced active ministry at St. Joseph and St. Anthony parishes in Odessa, effective July 1. Bush celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in a Mass on June 5 at Sacred Heart.

The Rev. Albert Ezeanya, bottom right photo, and Bishop Michael Sis enjoy an outdoor dinner Saturday, July 6, following Ezeanya’s installation as new priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The top photo shows the service participants Deacon Dwain Hennessey, the Rev. Isidore Ochiabuto, Sis, Ezeanya, and Deacon Ron Stegenga. Photos by Loretta Fulton

Just like his predecessor, Ezeanya also will serve Saints Joachim and Ann in Clyde. He was installed by Sis at the Clyde church on Sunday, July 7, following the Sacred Heart installation on the evening of July 6.

“I’m doing my rounds to install Father Albert–the new guy in town,” Sis joked at the Saturday night service.

Sis presented Ezeanya with a beautiful red Book of Gospels as a gift acknowleding his new leadership position.

“Father Albert,” Sis said, “receive the gospel of Christ whose herald you have become.”

In his homily, Sis noted that the Catholic Church numbers 1 billion worldwide and is growing. With that growth comes the need for more priests and other clergy, as well as lay people willing to serve.

“It takes an entire community to be the church,” Sis said.

He reminded the congregation of the many tasks the new priest will perform such as baptisms, confessions, visiting the sick, consoling the mournful, teaching, and encouraging.

“And most of all,” Sis said, “he will love you.”


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