The Ghana native seeks to serve as church’s ‘good shepherd’
When Father Ed Akordor accepted the bishop’s invitation to pastor Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Norco, the move represented a good opportunity to fulfill his perception of what a priest ought to be for his church.
“It’s good,” Akordor said of joining the church in 2014. “I’m enjoying myself and trying my best to work hard and be a good shepherd to the congregation.” As he settled into the position, Akordor found it to be a good fit.
“It’s the family community type of life they have,” Akordor said of the community. “It’s a community where everyone knows everyone. Everybody is trying to do something. You don’t have to tell them to do it. It lets the pastor concentrate on the spiritual aspect of the work. The people are generally kind and good.”
This atmosphere reminded him of the Republic of Ghana, Akordor’s native country in West Africa that rests along the Gulf of Guinea.
Akordor grew up in a big Catholic family.
One of his sisters was a nun and his younger brother’s son is a priest. His uncle, now deceased, also was a priest. At age 13, Akordor knew he wanted to become a priest, saying it “was just something that came from the Holy Spirit” and he never looked back.
“It’s the family type of life,” he said. “In Africa, especially the area where I come from, is based on a family type of life. You have people looking out for one another – that looks like the extended family you have in Ghana.”
When Akordor first came to the U.S. in 1996, most of his work had been in hospital ministries, including Mercy Hospital (then Baptist Hospital) in New Orleans, Touro Hospital and the VA hospital where he was the Catholic priest chaplain, and then went to Ochsner’s main campus for several years before coming to Sacred Heart.
“I just fell in love with the city,” Akordor said. It was while he worked in Amsterdam as a pastor that he came to the U.S. on vacation to Jackson, Miss., and toured New Orleans. That’s when he asked the Church to allow him to come to the Crescent City. He studied pastoral counseling at Loyola Institute of Ministry and stayed in the city. “I became a citizen last year.”
Again, Akordor’s love of people drew him to New Orleans, adding, “The way the people received me and I felt just really at home when I was here.”
Being in Europe, particularly Amsterdam, helped him connect to the city.
In 2014, the bishop appointed him to Sacred Heart of Jesus in Norco and he agreed to the move.
“That’s what I great up with … the cohesion of the family and you can it in the church, also,” Akordor said. “It’s like the kind of unity you expect in a good church.”He wants to help grow this sense of community.
“My impression is to build a strong spiritual life with the people and for them to know we are all one, and God is our father,” he said. “He will take care of all of us with is unconditional love. I think that’s mainly the thing that I want to show in the spiritual growth of the church. We have a school, also, and I’m trying to keep the school existing.”Akordor takes seriously his role as the good shepherd and bringing the people together in the Christian spirit.
“When you are a priest, you are ordained to be a shepherd for the people,” he said of 550 parishioners. “You do your best for the people entrusted in your hands. It calls for humility. That is what I try to do everyday – to be a good shepherd.”