U.S-Based Nigerian Priest Sacked For Being Materialistic
January 06, 2009 15:38
By Simon Ateba
A Nigerian catholic priest, who was recruited to fill empty pulpits in parishes across the United States of America, was sacked for being materialistic, The New York Times newspaper has said.
The U.S. influential newspaper reports that the Nigerian priest, whose names were not mentioned, was temporary recruited at the St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, in the Diocese of Owensboro, Western Kentucky, but was asked to go after he requested for three pairs of glasses. He was offered one for free.
“An American pastor said the Nigerian had seemed overly interested in material goods. When an ophthalmologist offered to fit him for glasses at no charge, he asked for three pairs” the newspaper reported.
Parishioners also complained that they could not understand his accent. PM.News could not establish where the Nigerian priest hails from in Nigeria. He was replaced by a Kenyan priest, Rev. Chrispin Oneko, whom the parishioners found to be different from the Nigerian.
“He listened and won people over with his humility. Where the Nigerian priest had taught the choir to sing African hymns, Father Oneko did not try to impose his worship style. And he learned to keep his sermons to no more than 15 minutes and the Masses to one hour.”
The Kenyan priest also had his trying times. The paper reports that after leading one of his first Sunday Masses at his new American parish, Rev. Oneko, was feeling content until he discovered several small notes left by his parishioners.
The notes, all anonymous, conveyed the same message: Father, please make your homilies shorter. One said even five minutes was too long for a mother with children.
One Sunday, after he opened his homily with a joke that fell flat, he said, “I know some of you are looking at your watches, so I’ll make it brief.”
Unlike in Kenya, where he had been a charismatic catholic, participating in faith healings and leading Masses with spirited singing and clapping that lasted for hours, Rev. Oneko preached slowly in America, in his Kenyan accent : “Late us prrray.” Sometimes he spelled out words when he saw the congregation looking puzzled. “B-I-R-D, not B-E-D,” the newspaper wrote.
At home, in Kenya, Father Oneko had preached to rural Africans who walked for hours to get to church and would have been disappointed if the sermons were brief.
“Here the whole Mass is one hour,” he said, a broad smile on his round face. “That was homework for me, to learn to summarize everything and make the homily 10 minutes, maybe 15. Here, people are on the move very fast.”
Most of the African priests, it was learnt, arrive knowing how to celebrate Mass, anoint the sick and baptize babies. But few are prepared for the challenges of being a pastor in America
To help Rev. Oneko understand the American experience, a volunteer in the church had to give him a high school textbook on American history and government. In Kenya, Father Oneko became the sole pastor of 12 satellite parishes in an 80-mile stretch. He served more than 3,000 people communion on a typical weekend and ran a girls high school.
It was a hardship post. His car, the only one in the vicinity, was used as a school bus, an ambulance and, if the local officers caught a thief, a police car — with Father Oneko the driver.
In Kentucky, he stuck to the music the congregation was used to at the Saturday evening Mass, that meant a faint choir of three voices; at the 11:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, an extended family of Filipinos played guitar and piano.