Diocese ‘imports’ priests to solve shortage crisis

Clonfert has become the first West of Ireland diocese to “import” priests from Nigeria to take up ministry.

Diocese ‘imports’ priests to solve shortage crisis

Due to a decline in vocations and the consequent shortage of diocesan priests, Bishop John Kirby has invited the priests to serve in Clonfert which includes parts of Galway, Roscommon and Offaly.

The bishop has concluded an arrangement with Bishop Charles Hammawa of Jalingo to have the priests serve in Clonfert for a three-year period, with a view to later renewing the deal.

Both priests are in their 40s and will take up their duties without delay after completing visa and canon law requirements.

Fr Kieran Danfulani will be based in the parish of Ballinasloe and Creagh, while Fr Augustine Chifu will be based in Loughrea.

Bishop Kirby said: “It’s a big boost and we’re delighted to welcome them. They are coming to us from Jalingo in eastern Nigeria. In a sense, it’s a turnaround —Irish missionaries spent a lot of time in Nigeria over the last 100 years or so and now, in a sense, the compliment is being returned.

“This is certainly a help as priests are retiring and getting older”.

Two other Irish dioceses, Kilmore and Ardagh and Clonmacnoise already have two priests each from Nigeria serving as curates in parishes.

The Association of Catholic Priests recently warned bringing Catholic priests from abroad to minister in Ireland would not solve the vocations crisis in the Church.

Co-founder of the association, Fr Brendan Hoban wrote in a newspaper column: “they could empty our emptying churches in a decade”.

Fr Hoban pointed out that transferring priests was not the same as transferring footballers from one club to another for a given fee.

“Priesting is different. Language matters. Culture matters. Tradition matters. History matters. Understanding is about more than knowing the words.

“Appreciating the weave and weft of Irish society is essential to ministering to people’s needs at parish level,” he wrote in his column in the Western People.

Earlier this week, the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Dr Kevin Duffy apologised for remarks made by Fr Joseph Okere in Longford at Mass in St Mel’s Cathedral last Sunday.

Fr Okere, who is attached to the Missionary Society of St Paul in Nigeria, only took up duty as curate in Longford a couple of months ago

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