Fr. Lawrence Teteh, CSSp, recently assigned to St. Therese Parish, 2304 Lower Huntington Road, was installed as pastor at an installation Mass on Sunday, August 21, at 10:00 a.m. Msgr. Bernard Galic, episcopal vicar for region E of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, celebrated the Mass. Msgr. Galic also serves as the director of the Vocation Office for the diocese and is pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, Yoder.
The installation Mass was followed by a reception dinner where Fr. Teteh also was recognized for his 40th Jubilee anniversary as a priest.
Fr. Teteh (pronounced “Teh, teh”) was born in 1944 in Ahiara Imo State Nigeria. He is the fifth of 11 children (six boys and five girls) and comes from a very strong Catholic family. His father was a station school teacher and catechist in Catholic missions for 48 years before retiring. The tradition of the family was a nightly family rosary and Sunday Mass was never missed.
“My desire to go to the minor seminary was inflamed after the rector (an Irish Holy Ghost Father) of the Juniorate (the Holy Ghost Fathers’ junior seminary) came with a teenage student and preached about the vocations to the missionary priesthood in the Holy Ghost Congregation,” said Fr. Teteh about his inspiration to begin a journey into the priesthood at the age of 14.
He spent the next 13 years in the junior and senior seminary formation program, which included secondary school, novitiate, philosophy and theology studies, and being ordained as a missionary priest in the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Latin: Congregatio Sancti Spiritus, abbreviated C.S.Sp. after his name) and known as a Spiritan priest.
“My first two years as a priest were spent in solely pastoral ministry in three different parishes,” Fr. Teteh related. “But from 1973 until I came over to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 2001, I have been in and out of educational institutions either as rector, vice principal, graduate student, lecturer and chaplain (of campus ministry).” He holds academic degrees, including his decorate, in philosophy, theology and education, which were earned in Nigeria, Belgium and the United States.
Fr. Lawrence, as he often is addressed, came to Our Lady of Hungary Parish in South Bend in 2001, first as an associate pastor and then as administrator there following the death of the pastor, Fr. Ted Kwak, in January 2004. He was appointed pastor in July of that same year by Bishop John M. D’Arcy, bishop emeritus of the local diocese. This past June 21, Fr. Teteh was named pastor of St. Therese Parish by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.
“Thus by nature and nurture hailing from a family of mostly teachers, I have been a professional teacher most of my life,” added Fr. Lawrence. He finds the priesthood a joyful profession, humbling and challenging, and something that has brought him to different cultures and countries, and groups of people. Whether in the school classroom or a pastoral setting, his joy is the recognition of being used by God and the Church in the furtherance of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Fr. Lawrence loves reading, soccer and tennis, and listening to classical music. Recently, he witnessed and “enjoyed” his first baseball game when he attended a Tin Caps game with several St. Therese parishioners earlier this month at Parkview Field in downtown Fort Wayne. He enjoys his work and says he plans to continue serving the Lord for as long as he is needed.
Lisa Kochanowski also contributed to this article for Today’s Catholic.