Recipient of Military, Minority and Rural Scholarship program serves in Kadena AB

Recipient of Military, Minority and Rural Scholarship program serves in Kadena AB

by Ron Orozco
The Fresno Bee (MCT)

A former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is one of 18 recipients of the 2014 Military, Minority and Rural Scholarship program.

The Rev. Onyema Okorie, a native of Nigeria, was ordained as a Catholic priest at St. John's Cathedral in Fresno on Dec. 18, 1999. He then served as director of the diocesan African-American Catholic ministry.

He is serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. He also is enrolled as a graduate student in a master of science in mental health counseling program with Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn.

The scholarship program supports the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation's mission to increase access to mental health care through professional counseling services, particularly for underserved populations. There were 278 applicants.

Mental health counseling has become a significant part of Okorie's ministry to military personnel and their families.

In a statement, Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of the Diocese of Fresno says: "Although Father Onyema's presence is greatly missed within the Diocese of Fresno, his ministry to military personnel and their families is greatly appreciated and supported through committed prayer and concern for those he serves. Reception of this scholarship is a great blessing to help advance his pastoral presence to those who are often in harm's way to protect the weak and vulnerable."

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