punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can Africa Renew the Catholic Church in Europe? (Bloggin' from Bally Ol' England)

This week we're visiting my husband's family in England, which means that at least one mass we attend will be presided over by an African priest.

Here's why:

The influx of immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe to Britain has boosted the numbers of Catholics in England, especially for inner-city churches in larger cities such as London, Manchester and Southampton.  This, of course, means that the demand for African and Eastern European priests has increased.

Africa's surplus of priestly vocations meets this demand with gusto. Which has lead me and others to wonder: can Africa renew and revitalize the Catholic Church in Europe?  Can Africa's priests, with their new found leadership, charisma, and orthodoxy cause a resurgence of the faith amongst all Catholics in Europe?

As luck would have it, I was able to ask a Nigerian priest about this after last Sunday's mass.

Now, one striking feature about mass in Britain is this: attendance is always low (with the exception being in those aforementioned cities).  It's nothing compared to the hundreds of people at every single mass at Our Lady of Peace. The last time I saw a packed mass in England, numbering in more than in the double digits, was...never.

The Nigerian priest and I chatted about what liturgies were like in Africa.  He told me that they were full of people, hundreds, maybe even thousands at time, and that they were permeated with dance (disclaimer: no, I don't think dance has a place in European or American liturgies).   He told me that in his UK parish, which is in inner-city London, they also have overflowing crowds.  And although Fr. seemed uncertain as to whether Africa can have any sway in influencing the former seat of Christendom, I found that I was not.  I personally believe that a renewal of the Church in Europe will be possible through the example of it's southernly neighbor and through the guidance of some very holy African priests who the English episcopate are currently inviting over.

Pope Benedict certainly believes that a strong partnership between the two continents.  Check out this link here.  In short, Europe and Africa have the potential for becoming the crossroads where the spiritually impoverished yet materially rich meet the spiritually rich yet materially impoverished.  And the former has everything to gain by the example of the latter's faith.

I asked a few English folks what they thought (alright, so they happened to be my family).  One believed strongly that the next generation of young European Catholics will renew the Church in Europe.  There's some strong evidence to support this as the youth of Europe already exhibit a stronger, more orthodox faith than their predecessors.  Pope Benedict's recent visits to England and Spain for two World Youth Days confirms this.

UK and African readers, or anyone living abroad, it would be great if you could weigh in with your opinions and experience.  I hope and believe it is possible.

Have a wonderful Ash Wednesday, everyone.



  1. Our Dear priest friend Fr. Kirby is moving his monastery to Ireland. So not only are priests from Africa moving to Great Britain, we are sending priests from U.S. to Great Britain.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Lisa. I did not know that!

  2. We Indians are also sending our priests to Europe