In the US the number of Catholic priests has been declining in recent years and some parishes have had no choice but to recruit African priests.
Reverend Athanasius Abanulo is a native from Nigeria and currently serves two churches in rural Alabama.
The local bishop is happy with the results so far.
“We are experiencing a shortage of priests currently and for particular ministry sometimes we have them and invite them to come and join in the ministry that we have available at this particular time. And so they have been an enormous help to us”, says Bishop Steve Raica from the Birmingham Diocese.
Like many other international priests, Reverend Abanulo has had to adapt to a different lifestyle in America.
“Coming from Africa we have a different lifestyle all together. Priests coming from outside have to be reminded, they’re coming in to the people, to serve the people who already have their culture, it takes time”, said the Reverend Athanasius Abanulo from the Holy Family and Immaculate Conception churches.
Parishioner Alison Cerovsky, feels that the new priest brings a new perspective.
“He brings a lot of his culture in explaining how the scriptures, he kind of ties everything in to how he grew up and maybe how things are different here. And it gives us a perspective we might not have had”, she said.
As more priests are recruited from countries like Nigeria, Abanulo encourages his fellow priests from Africa to not forget where they come from.