How Africa is changing the face of mission


 Almost two centuries have now passed since the Christian faith made a definitive presence in most parts of Africa. With the exception of the ancient churches in Egypt and some other outposts along the coast, contemporary Christianity in Africa traces back to the 19th century[1]. It however, became a major force to reckon with in the 20th century, when questions of national independences, anthropological and ecclesial identities came into vogue[2].  Since then, that free spirit of religious outreach, which no one thought existed in the continent, has now been unleashed in the universal Church. We are talking about a vibrant missionary energy originating from the then mission-lands of Africa. Al-though the extent of this new energy was not immediately predictable, the increasing number of African missionaries overseas has made the continent indisputably significant in global evangelization. Walbert Bühlmann had written about what he described as a third church by which Christianity’s center of gravity makes a historical shift to the southern hemisphere creating an outstanding opportunity for the faith[3].

In a way, understanding this outstanding opportunity is an important step towards comprehending the new face of mission in today’s world. This is why we hope to explore in this article, the evangelizing efforts of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, Nigeria (popularly known as MSP). Its apostolic life overseas will throw light on how Africa is helping to re-shape the face of the Church and its mission in the 21st century. The MSP is a genuinely African missionary enterprise. Established in 1978 by the Nigerian Episcopal Conference[4], it is a particular success story of the Nigerian Church in history. This article argues that Africa (and indeed the rest of the developing world) is the new factor in missionary determinations but the question is whether the Church really recog-nizes what is happening.

Paul VI and the African Missionary Development

 To view the increase in the number of African missionaries as a mere sociological issue is reductionist because there should be more to it. It is also hard to conclude that Africa is now a self-sufficient missionary powerhouse. How-ever, if we traced the history of faith development in Africa, we may discover that this phenomenon is part of a larger project of God, in which Africa may have been budgeted to carry on the light of the Gospel in a reverse mission. To understand this, we have to recall the pontificate of Paul VI (Giovan Battista Montini, 1963-1978), who particularly sensed the emergence of a missionary energy in Africa and created the space for its flourishing. From the 1960s therefore, he stands out significantly as part of the story of African missionary development. Just after one year of his pontificate, Paul VI canonized twenty-two Ugandan martyrs in Rome (1964), affirming that Africa is an emergent force in global Christian witnessing.

Vatican II (1962-1965) played a major role in the new orientations that transformed African Christianity. However, within the same period, two other unforgettable moments influenced the quick development of the missionary spirit in Africa. The first was the inauguration of a continental episcopal organization, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). The second was the historic visit of Pope Paul VI to Kampala, Uganda, in July 1969, making him the first ever Pontiff to set foot on the African soil[5].  During this visit, the Pope challenged all the local churches of Africa to assume their rightful missionary identity. According to him, “By now, you Africans are missionaries to yourselves”. Detecting the missionary potential of Africa, Paul VI prayed for the grace of “fertilizing the good seed and stirring up the human and Christian energies” inherent in the genius of African vocations for both spiritual and temporal fulfillment. He indeed stated that Africa would soon be capable of bringing to the universal Church “the precious and original contribution of negritude” which the Church of Christ urgently needs at this particular moment in history[6].  Although the speech focused more on the evangelization of Africa, the perspective of a global missionary flourishing was prophetically inherent and this makes us consider Paul VI as really, a true prophet of the third millennium[7].

Paul VI was a Pope of dialogue and ecumenism, a pilgrim of the future and an expert of humanity. His vision of the church in relation to the developing world was that of hope. For a Pontiff at that moment in history to call Africans “missionaries” was already a brilliant revolution. Before he was Pope, he visited several African countries including, Ghana, Sudan, Kenya, Congo, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Nigeria in 1962[8].  Paul VI became the leader of the Christian community in a season when self-preservation was the Church’s dominant notion of mission. The assumption was that only the Churches in the northern hemisphere could send missionaries to the south[9]. Paul VI saw a different reality. It becomes easy to see why his life and teachings illuminate the Church’s missionary pathway. He encouraged African churches to enter the hermeneutic of history, remembering those who came from outside to evangelize them. Such a history he believed confers on the local Church the mark of its authenticity and nobility, its mark as apostolic.

That history is a drama of charity, heroism and sacrifice, which makes the African Church great and holy from its very origins. It is a history, which still continues, and must continue for a long time to come, even though you Africans are now assuming its direction…. There must now be associated to and following upon the impulse given to the faith by the missionary action of foreign countries, an impulse arising from the heart of Africa itself [10].

An impulse from the heart of Africa

An actualization of what Pope Paul VI described as “an impulse from the heart of Africa” is the establishment of the Missionary Society of St Paul, Nigeria. Between the 1960s and 1970s, things were fast evolving in the socio-cultural, economic and political landscapes of Africa. Most countries got their independence from colonialism. These countries were engrossed with the challenges of building up their newly liberated nations. Nigeria, which became independent in 1960, had just emerged from a bloody civil war (1967 -1970). The war broke out when the mostly Christian tribes of the East and Southeast wanted a new state of Biafra citing marginalization by the ruling North. Millions of the “Biafrans” died during this war, especially children of starvation. The post-war period was however, suffused with fears of genocide against the “Biafrans” that even Pope Paul VI was prompted to caution the Nigerian government against any forms of reprisals[11]. Imaginably, the accumulation of serious ethnic sentiments resulted in mistrust and insecurity around the country. This was not a good prospect for an emerging nation like Nigeria, abundantly blessed with natural resources.

A lot was also happening in the religious sphere. The Second Vatican Council had initiated reforms in the church and Africans were exploring possible ways to implement the new conciliar proposals. Inculturation was a major issue of these reforms. However, new firebrand evangelicalism was also gradually making its way into Africa (into Nigeria in particular) mostly from North America, carrying with it fundamentalist notions that would further divide peoples and families. This still poses a huge ecumenical challenge for mission in Nigeria today[12].  Hence, the socio-religious atmosphere was tensed-up. One can figure how such an atmosphere hit directly on the heart of the Christian community in Nigeria. Many groups of goodwill wanted to be part of a solution to the challenges facing the nation, but how did the Church being the sign and instrument of God’s kingdom respond?

The church’s response during critical moments shows how well she understands her mission in context. It was the Church’s prophetic responsibility to guide Nigeria made up of diverse cultures back to the right track of nationhood. Indeed, this provided the Catholic bishops in Nigeria an occasion to think of possible, concrete ways to promote unity, stability and national reconciliation. In a statement released in 1970, just as the Nigerian civil war ended, the bishops enunciated the preparedness of the Catholic Church to cooperate fully with the government and other non-governmental agencies “to pool all our available resources, spi-ritual, moral, physical and financial for the relief of suffering and the building of a better nation”. They pledged to dedicate themselves to the most Christian fruit of peace which is reconciliation”[13]. Also in a memorandum of February 1972, the bishops reiterated the role of the Church in resolving the Nigerian social problems:

“The Church in Nigeria must therefore spend herself to the utmost as a matter of urgency to cooperate with the Federal and State Government agencies, with other religious and civil organizations to find adequate means of establishing and reinforcing in our pluralistic society a true spirit of unity, lasting peace and fraternal charity… Religion is a unifying force and not a divisive one. The Church must cooperate to work for unity and peace and do nothing to be identified with tensions and divisions”[14].

For the bishops to be involved in national issues would however, touch on politics, which has never been an easy matter  for the Church in Africa, always accused of meddling into politics[15].  Pope John Paul II had asserted that, “the decisions which either accelerate or slow down the development of peoples are really political in character”[16]. Hence, there was this strategy by the bishops to form together priests from the different geo-political zones of Nigeria. It was an impulse triggered by the reality and need of the time. It was first nursed in the heart of the then Bishop Dominic Ekandem (1917-1995), who would later become Cardinal[17]. This gave birth to the Missionary Society of St Paul, Ni-geria (MSP), which with a national character, would ensure that no Nigerian was a stranger in any part of the country. It would eventually spread abroad into a rising body of young missionary priests summoning all nations to be reconciled to God.

The story of a missionary beginning

The establishment of the MSP allowed the diverse tribes of Nigeria to grow together in the common essentials of humanity and faith through the love of Christ in the Church. Obviously, the church was the only reliable institution that had such a capacity to initiate national unity during those flammable social moments. The bishops applied the grace of ecclesial unity to secure reconciliation and peace. The story of MSP’s emergence is thus as interesting as it is graceful. Above all, it highlights how the universal Church could harness the gift of its unity in diversity to respond to difficult issues. As hinted above, the initiator of the “original idea” of a national seminary for Nigeria was Cardinal Dominic Ekandem. According to C. K. Nwosu, when in 1969, Pope Paul VI addressed the African bishops in Uganda “it scarcely crossed the minds of those present that it was from the troubled West African country (Nigeria) that there would emerge the first organized and coherent episcopal response to the papal challenge that Africans become “missionaries to yourselves”[18]. Yet more interesting was that the initiator, the then Bishop Dominic Ekandem himself was not present at the assembly in Kampala Uganda.

Nonetheless, after the ecclesiastical vicissitudes that normally accompany such initiatives and coupled with the beleaguered social conditions of Nigeria at the time, Dominic Ekandem continued to believe in consolidating the church’s work of evangelization as one united family. Unity was a prerequisite for the church that must challenge and secure peace in Nigeria. Bishop Ekandem intended to replicate the idea of the Irish Maynooth Seminary College where all the dioceses in Ireland had candidates for the priesthood. According to him, “If Nigerian priests were trained together some dioceses that lacked vocations to the priesthood could be helped by priests from another diocese within the country… Through a national seminary, the unity of our nation would be very much enhanced”[19]. In May 1976, when Dominic Ekandem became a cardinal, he was able to present a “modified version” of his proposal to Pope Paul VI. The modification was a shift from an ordinary national seminary to a “missionary” sem-inary. As C. K. Nwosu explained:

“The Cardinal informed the Pope that God had blessed Nigeria with many vocations and suggested the possibility of many Nigerian priests helping in the evangelization of other African countries. He inquired about the chances of Rome granting permission for a missionary seminary in Nigeria…. The proposed new sem-inary would be different. Its purpose would be to raise and nurture indigenous vocations for evangelization in Africa and beyond”[20].

Pope Paul VI had welcomed this idea, if it was also the unanimous agreement of the church in Nigeria. He also donated the ample sum of sixty thousand pounds sterling (60,000.000) to en-able its take off[21]. Eventually, in September 1976, the conference of Nigerian bishops sitting in Kaduna voted in favor of the initiative. In 1978, the Nigerian bishops erected the Missionary Society of St. Paul into a “Pius Union”, ratified later that year by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and welcomed by Pope John Paull II. In 1994, the Congregation also erected the MSP into a “Society of Apostolic Life of Diocesan Right”[22]. This meant that although other aspects of its life were essential, emphasis on its apostolic mission and charism became a prerogative.  It was the enduring hope of Cardinal Ekandem who “put the considerable weight of his ecclesiastical prestige firmly behind the initiative during its formative years, both at home and abroad”[23], to arrive at this point of a missionary status. The Cardinal was not just an apostle; he was a true patriot, and a great ambassador of the Nigerian church.

The young society was named after St. Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles in imitation of his charismatic and missionary spirit. It was also in a way, to show respect to Pope Paul VI who played a crucial role towards its establishment. Taking St. Paul as patron thus essentially reveals the young society’s basic missionary attitude and spirituality. We shall talk about this in subsequent paragraphs. Meanwhile, the MSP adopted this motto, “So we are ambassadors of Christ (Pro Christo Legatione Ergo Fungimur); it is as though God were appealing through us and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God” (2Cor. 5:20). Indeed, the MSP takes up the tough mission of recalling the world back to Christ, telling humanity to be reconciled again to God: a goal of preaching in a world, which rapidly abhors the idea of God.

The society, following the footsteps of the great apostle of the Gentiles St Paul, has as its primary aim the ministry of preaching, in imitation of Jesus Christ who went about preaching the Good News of the Kingdom. The special task of preaching the Gospel to the nations as ambassadors of Christ, calls on all the members to go out and serve other people. This involves answering the call of the Church, especially in needy dioceses throughout the world. The soci-ety undertakes the missionary activities to all nations in accordance with the mandate of Christ [24].

A larger vision for the African missionaries

When the Nigerian Bishops decided to establish the MSP, they knew very well the desires of Paul VI in terms of the Church’s missionary mandate and updating. In 1975, this Pope wrote that to evangelize is the deepest identity for which the Church exists[25].  The bishops also knew about the many international missionary institutes already operative in Nigeria. Their conviction was that “even poor local churches like our own must be part of this missionary movement”. They wanted the Nigerian Church to unite with the world communion in witnessing to Christ to the nations. To be a Christian is to be missionary, and a church that is not missionary, is not the church of Christ[26]. Vatican II went beyond the sending out of missionaries to stressing that every Christian by virtue of his or her baptism is a missionary. This is why Pope Francis has made the “missionary option” the priority of his pontificate urging every believer to step out and witness to Christ. If the pilgrim church is indeed missionary by nature [27], the local churches of Africa are for the same reason missionary. This is because, according to Vatican II, when the local church is rooted in the socio-cultural life of its peoples and is equipped with its own supply of indigenous vocations and ecclesial structures, it gains some stability and firmness in the faith[28]. We must therefore acknowledge the church in Africa as People of God, which Avery Dulles describes as the “principal paradigm of the Church” in the documents of Vatican II[29].  According to the Council:

This Church of Christ is truly present in all legitimate local congregations of the faithful which, united with their pastors, are themselves called churches in the New Testament. For their locality, these are the new people called by God in the Holy Spirit and in much fullness…. In these communities, though frequently small and poor, or living in the Diaspora, Christ is present, and in virtue of His presence there is brought together one, holy, catholic and apostolic church [30].

However, there are issues regarding the very “missionary identity” of the African person as an evangelizer. Different people conceptualize the term “mission” or “missionary” in different ways. Paul VI warned that a partial or fragmentary definition of the reality of evangelization risks impoverishing or distorting it unless all its essential elements are included[31]. Under current missiological developments, the idea of mission evolves rapidly and David J. Bosch asserts that Christian mission more than ever before is in the firing line today[32]. The question now is whether Africans are acknowledged as missionaries and evangelizers in the church’s understanding of the terms. The impression is that sometimes they are not. Of course, stereotypes and pre-judgements about Africa are never lacking in the church, but they can be very damaging. In the Church there should be neither Jew nor Gentile (Gal 3:26-29; Eph. 2: 11- 22). The Church cannot effectively carry out the missionary vocation in the modern world unless it realizes that “the future of the Christian faith lies with the emerging churches of the developing world”[33]. This question of identity is a challenge, the cause of which we shall see later on this article.

Indeed, we have so far concentrated on the Missionary Society of St Paul, which is a Catholic body, but the reality is that there are other Christian denominations (mainline, Pentecostal, evangelical, independent churches etc.), originating from Africa that are scattered all over the world in active evangelization. Several Nigerian Pentecostal groups are growing powerfully in different parts of the world. Their emergence, even in hostile environments testifies to a power more than the effects of human mobility or migrations. This is what Allen L. Effa describes as the Nigerian factor in Global Christianity. According to him, “Nigerian churches are helping to change the face of European and North American Christianity and are part of a growing global mission force”. These missionaries actually help to “revitalize mainline parishes in Europe and North America”. Hence, “we see a mission in reverse taking place as the vitality and vision of African Christianity not only finds foothold in Europe and North America but also challenges the very expression of Christianity in those continents”[34].

The concrete praxis of mission

The Missionary Society of St. Paul, Nigeria has given renewed hope to many dioceses around the world. Apart from Parish apostolates, they engage in diverse ecclesial activities including chaplaincies, educational and civic developmental projects. Their basic approach is that of collaborating with indigenous pastoral agents to engage in a mutually respectful dialogue with host communities. This is why as already mentioned; the establishment of the MSP proves to be a typical example of how ecclesial communion and solidarity could serve the evangelization of today’s world. But there are various ways to read the lines of African missionary activities.

The first is Missio ad gentes that makes the Church present among diverse peoples. Al-though the MSP sent out its first missionaries to Buea Diocese in Cameroon, Monrovia in Li-beria and to the African-American apostolate in the United States, it was in September 1995, that the young society had its first General Chapter, “becoming an autonomous and adult member of the family of the missionary institutes of the universal church”[35]. Today, almost 300 MSP missionaries are scattered abroad, while many young men aspire to join. It suffices to mention some of the countries where they serve, that include those in Africa, Europe and America. In Africa, they work in Botswana, Malawi, South Sudan, the Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, South Africa, Cam-eroon etc. In Europe, the MSP priests serve in diverse apostolates in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Ireland among others. In the Americas, these African missionaries are already in various dioceses in the United States, Canada, the Bahamas and Grenada etc.

Secondly, the praxis of mission typical to African missionaries is the practical pastoral approach. The MSP takes as a priority, primary evangelization: the founding and developing of new Christian communities in remote places, at the grassroots. It is indubitable that there are places in our world that have not yet encountered the light of the Gospel. Secondly, the Society engages in the Apostolate of the Pen. They run the Ambassador Publications, which en-ables them to communicate the Gospel in print to all. Yet, the pastoral need that tends to determine the proper role of the MSP is that of Re-animating the faith where it is moribund, and lacking ministers. Although this happens mainly outside Africa, it is gradually becoming the largest and most challenging work of the MSP and indeed all missionaries from Africa in the global field. What this implies is that while concentrating on primary evangelization in poor, neglected areas, the Missionary Society of St Paul, Nigeria finds itself welcoming invitations that square more and more into the course of the New Evangelization. This also gives them the rare opportunity of operating where many people exist: at the neglected peripheries of society or at the cold margins of faith.  Pope Benedict XVI indeed, exhorted Africa to take active part in this new project of the Church’s renewal especially in Europe.

The pilgrim Church in Africa is also called to contribute to the new evangelization in secularized countries, which once provided numerous missionaries but are today sadly lacking in vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. In the meantime, great numbers of African men and women have accepted the invitation of the Lord of the harvest…. This form of cooperation, which should be governed by accords between the sending and the receiving Churches…, provides valuable support for the new evangelization in countries of ancient Christian tradition [36].

Another point is that African missionaries bring to the Church the richness of a contextual theological worldview furnished with inculturated ecclesial models. When Pope Paul VI told Africans in his 1969 speech, “you may, and you must, have an African Christianity”, he also called Africa the New homeland of Christ.  Hardly was he imagining a context where Europe would be rejecting its Christian heritage. The Pope was calling on Africa to enrich and renew the Christian religion with the wealth of its cultural uniqueness and refreshing humanism. Africans are a people of signs and symbols, a sacramental race whose cultures and customs are naturally liturgical. Their traditions point to God in ways westerners never knew it. It is such that every religious gesture is a language of the universe corresponding to transcendence. The sense of community, the symbolic body movements, joyful songs and general African liturgical customs are never meaningless externalities. This is what many critics fail to understand. These ways of worship embody the secrets of African vitality Inculturated into Christianity. They are what the missionaries hope to cultivate among peoples: the joy of life and the hope of faith.  Pope Benedict VI said that Africa is now a “spiritual lung for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope”[37] . We can confirm this looking at how young African missionaries are re-enkindling the faith around the globe and helping people to rediscover the essence of the Christian community.

Now, one area that the world needs Africa is in the area spirituality and the culture of life. Because, African cultural belief systems command their way of being, the religious heritage of Africa is no doubt a panacea for the lack of authentic spirituality in the world. We are talking about the hermeneutic of humanism and communal encounter. Africans remind the world that the Church is the small groups, the relational communities. When Africans facilitate ecclesial activities, there unfolds a meaningful difference predicated on a profound sense of the sacred. Such spiritual disposition makes for genuine encounter between the human person and God. Thus, African missionaries play crucial roles in the reconstruction of lives battered by the persistent postmodern loss of God, individualism and utilitarianism. African values reconnect the human family to its divine essence. Those who encounter the members of the Missionary Society of St Paul for example attest that they are not only eloquent preachers of the word of God, but excellent in human relations that re-create God’s presence, a humanism that makes the Gospel a genuine incarnational encounter.

Challenges facing African missionaries

Talking about the challenges, which face African missionaries, could be tricky. First, one risks making statements that wrongly isolate them. Secondly, challenges vary according to territories and are never the same for everyone considering today’s postmodern contexts. Regarding these contexts, the realities are stark and one cannot exhaust the many studies already done on the question. Defined by a sense of pluralism, skeptical of any absolutes and making all truth claims relative, postmodern cultures see everything as depending on individual choices[38]. Again, postmodernity manifests mainly in what Robert Schreiter calls “the rubric of globalization” representing a concrete world order that mission must confront. “Globalization appears to be the best frame by which we can interpret and engage the world in response to our call to participate in the bringing about of the Reign of God in our world”[39].  In our global village, everything is interconnected and cultures intermingle. Yet, the idea portends a huge challenge for the African missionary, who is caught-up in the endless web of its consequences.

When we talk about globalization, it is a worldview full of culture shocks. For the developing world, the first thing that comes to mind is exploitation: culturally, economically, politically, etc. For Africa, it points quickly to impoverishing global policies that contribute significantly to the way Africans are judged overseas. Even as we do not intend to go into the contentious reasons of why Africa is poor or underdeveloped, it is sad how this links to religious vocations. It suggests that many young people in the developing nations take up the religious vocations in order to escape from poverty. On the surface, this sounds credible, but it is a serious vote of no confidence on the genuine sacrifice and commitment of young Africans serving in challenging territories of mission. Overseas, they take up some of those difficult roles that young Europeans would rather not take. Host communities should stop purposefully enacting policies aimed at reminding Africans that they are by the way, poor strangers. This prevents genuine integration. If a missionary constantly feels like a stranger, conditioned and restricted, he cannot contribute his best.

When European missionaries first came to Africa, they came with supplies of money and materials to establish churches. Indeed, they succeeded in planting churches but these churches were not well equipped to take responsibility for themselves. Though it is not our topic, European paternalism helped to render Africa dependent. Again, we must also remember that the African concept of community and family influences the missionary. Family ties back home are so strong that an African missionary cannot avoid thinking about the well-being of those at home. It is impossible to uproot an African from his or her family roots because it feels like death. A missionary not connected to his cultural roots cannot perform well. The situation is worse when these missionaries are expected to remit moneys back to their headquarters in Africa. All these affect the practice of mission that instead of advancing the Kingdom of God, missionaries busy themselves with how much the pay is. The point is that it is necessary to separate African vocations from the stereotype of poverty.

Although the stigma of poverty challenges African Churches to know the kind of persons they call into ministry, we must however remember that money is important for missionary work. Religious congregations and dioceses should strive to be self-dependent and take the well-being of their members seriously. Proper missionary formation is also a major issue here. Many scholars have highlighted the reality of the modern world where globalized interculturality is the new paradigm of mission[40].  It is understandable that a well-packaged missionary formation cognizant of global pluralistic realities should be the most essential element of an integrated religious orientation in today’s context. Hence, the African church must take the issue of formation seriously. Quality counts in mission, not quantity. Many priests and religious do not receive a standard missionary formation before going on mission and the consequences are huge in places like Europe and America. Unfortunately, the poorly formed outnumber the professionally formed missionaries. One of the ways to improve on this is to set up mission-oriented institutes or utilize the opportunities provided by institutions like the National Missionary Seminary of St Paul, Nigeria, where MSP missionaries train before embarking on mission. This type of initiative is very important since it also envisages the formation of laypersons for mission. Proper missionary formation will help to transform both the missionary and the aims of mission and this will save Africa from some embarrassments.


Today’s missionary reality “points more to the nature of faith and less to the significance of the human agencies of its transmission”[41].To understand how African missionaries are changing the face of global mission, we must understand that the concept of power is changing. The poor are gradually becoming the powerful as the churches of the third world grow. The reality is not just about the shifting gravitational centre of Christianity to the South.

It is about God’s project with the poor. Now we see significant paradigm shifts in missionary practice, in theology and in ecclesial self-understanding where the poor are the real evangelizers of the 21st century[42]. The truth is that African missionaries, though poor have much more to offer to Christian mission. Bringing young African missionaries into the western world simply to manage homes for the sick and the elderly makes mission a matter of work and pay which serves to maintain old ecclesiastical status quo. As a brainchild of the Nigerian Bishops conference, the Missionary Society of St Paul is a model of what African can offer. It is a challenge to other third world churches. Sadly, many recent Nigerian Bishops do not know their connection to this great missionary society integrating Nigerian cultural and Christian fecundity into a global equation. The lesson from the MSP is that Christian mission is more about who has genuinely encountered the person of Jesus Christ, motived, and urged by the joy of the Gospel to evangelize[43]. A new form of Christianity where African cultural values enmesh into the Church’s global identity is thus, in the making.

We thank the author who sent this article to be published in the Sedos Bulletin.

*The photo at page 4 is taken from:


[1] Cf. J. BAUR, 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa: An African Church History, Paulines Publication Africa, Nairobi 1994, 103.

[2] Cf. F. A. OBORJI, Trends in African Theology since Vatican II: A Missiological Orientation: LEBERIT SRL PRESS, ROMA 2005, 52 – 64.

[3] Cf. W. BUHLMANN, The Coming of the Third Church, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1978, 22.

[4] Cf. J. BAUR, Op. cit., 272.

[5] C. K. O. NWOSU, Cardinal Dominic Ekandem and the Growth of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, The Ambassador Publications, Nigeria 2012, 321.

[6] Cf. PAUL VI, “Homily” The Eucharistic Celebration at the conclusion of the Symposium organized by the Bishops of Africa, Kampala, Uganda 31 July 1969.

[7] Cf. E. BROGLIONI, Paolo VI: Profeta del Terzo Millennio, Editrice VELAR, Italia, 2008.


Pope_Paul¬_VI  retrieved, 8 May 2016

[9] Cf. G. COLZANI, “La Visione Missionaria Nell’Evan- gelium Nuntiandi”  (Paper presentation at the Parish of S. Antonino, Concesio 25 Ottobre 1996),in 1897 Concesio 1997 1 Centenario della nascita di Giovan Battista Montini: Atti, Parrocchia S. Antonino M, Zona Pastorale XXIII di Paulo VI Comune di Concesio, Brescia 1999, 29-36.

[10] PAUL VI, “Homily”, Op. Cit.

[11] Cf. C. K. O. NWOSU, Cardinal Dominic Ekandem and the Growth of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Op. cit. 197.

[12] Cf. N. NDIOKWERE, The African Church Today and Tomorrow: Prospects and Challenges, Vol. 1, Effective Key Publishers, Onitsha, Nigeria 1994, 6 -7.

[13] Cf. P. SCHINELLER, (ed.), The Voice of the Voiceless: Pastoral Letters and Communiques of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria 1960- 2002, Daily Graphics Nigeria Limited, Ibadan 2002, 56.

[14] Ibid. 61.

[15] Cf. P. A. KALILOMBE, Doing Theology at the Grassroots: Theological Essays from Malawi, Mambo Press, Gweru, Zimbabwe 1999, 35.

[16] JOHN PAUL II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, on Social Concern, n. 35.

[17] Dominic Cardinal Ekandem was the first Nigerian pre-late to be elected to the College of Cardinals. This was in 1976. He also doubles as the first indigenous bishop in West Africa.

[18] C. K. O. NWOSU, Cardinal Dominic Ekandem and the Growth of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Op. cit., 328. (Brackets mine).

[19] D. EKANDEM, In the Vineyard of the Lord: My Memoirs, Abuja 1996, 41, quoted in C. K. O. NWOSU, Op. cit. 330.

[20] C. K. O. NWOSU, Cardinal Dominic Ekandem and

 the Growth of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, Op. cit., 331.

[21] Ibid. 332.

[22] Cf. Code of Canon Law, CIC. n. 579.

[23] J. O. ONAIYEKAN, Introduction to the Constitution of the Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria, issued in Abuja, Easter Sunday, April 16 1995.

[24] Constitutions and Directives of the Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria, Ambassador Publications, Nigeria 2000, 1.

[25] Cf. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 14.

[26] Constitutions and Directives of the Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria, Viii.

[27] Cf. Vatican II, Ad Gentes n. 2.

[28]  Ibid. 19.

[29] Cf. A. DULLES, Models of the Church, Image Books, NY 2002, 45.

[30] Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, n. 26.

[31] Cf. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 17.

[32] Cf. D. J. BOSCH, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, Orbis Books Maryknoll, NY 1991, 1-11.

[33] J. FUELLENBACH, Church: Community for the Kingdom, Logos Publications, Manila 2004, 93.

[34] A. L. EFFA, “Releasing the Trigger: The Nigerian Factor in Global Christianity” in International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 37: 4(October 2013), 214 – 218.

[35]  J. O. ONAIYEKAN, Introduction to the Constitution of the Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria, Op. cit.

[36] BENEDICT XVI, Africae Munus, n. 167.

[37] BENEDICT XVI, Africae Munus, n. 13.

[38] Cf. J. C. SILVALON, “The Challenge of Postmodern Culture and Mission” in L. T. STANISLAUS – M. UEFFING (eds.), Intercultural Mission Vol 2, Steyler Missionswissenschaftliches, Institut, Sankt, Augustin 2015, 36-49.

[39] R. J. SCHRIETER, “Globalization and Reconciliation: Challenges to Mission” in, R. J. SCHREITER (ed.), Mission in the Third Millennium, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 2001, 122.

[40] See, L. T. STANISLAUS – M. UEFFING (eds.), Intercultural Mission Vol. 2, (eds.) Intercultural Mission Vol 2, Steyler Missionswissenschaftliches, Institut, Sankt, Augustin 2015.

[41] See K. BEDIAKO, Jesus in Africa: Christian Gospel in African History and Experience, Editions Clé and Regnum Africa and Paternoster Press, U.K 2000, 116.

[42] See, X. PIKAZA – J. A. DA SILVA (eds.), The Pact of the Catacombs: The Mission of the Poor in the Church, Editorial Verbo Divino, Spain 2015.

[43] FRANCIS, Evangelium Gaudium, n. 264.

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