Africa and missionaries, pt. 2

From a three-article series that the New York Times ran Christmas week. A lovely portrait of the sort of exchange that plays to the needs and strengths of both the sending and receiving cultures: priests come to the US to serve understaffed dioceses, whose members can then be brought into partnership to support development projects in their priests’ home countries.

Majestic in a green chasuble, Father Ibemere delivered his homily strolling up and down the aisle. When it was time to distribute the eucharist, he bent down to give communion to a man he knew was too ill to stand.

After the Mass, however, one member of the congregation, Virginia Ballard, gestured toward the Nigerian priest and confided in Father Venters, “I can’t understand what he said, but he’s a sweet young man.”

Mrs. Ballard went on to praise Father Ibemere’s knowledge of the Bible, his capacity to remember the names of congregants, his willingness to teach the Americans about his home in Nigeria. “He is a holy man,” she concluded, “and we are honored to have him.”

from “Serving U.S. Parishes, Fathers Without Borders,” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York TImes, 27 December 2008

Originally published at

Add Your Comments