International Priests in America

Acculturation and International Priests in Canada
Goal is to Create an Effective
Environment for Ministry
Proper preparation of international priests for
ministry in Canada
Proper preparation of the receiving Canadian
Presentation Summary
I’m here to present you with…
1. Data, Research, and Experiences …Part 1 (am)
2. Programs and Outcomes… Part 2 (am)
3. Practical Resources… Part 3 (pm)
And along the way… Questions/issues to grapple with
However… Take up a particular focus OR Facilitate a
“crucial conversation”
I also wish to learn from you…
New York Times “Divine Recruits”
Who is an International Priest?
Those priests who were born and formed in
another country and have relocated to Canada
to serve in a diocese.
What’s in a Program Name?
Enculturation: The process by which a person
adapts to and assimilates the culture in which he
Acculturation: The modification of the culture of a
group or individual as a result of contact with a
different culture.
Inculturation: The attempt to make a religious
(e.g. Christian) message accessible in and through
a local culture.
International Priests in Canada and
the U.S…
…not much research
Vatican Documents
John Paul II, “Norms for the Distribution of Priests,”
Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples,
“Instruction on the Sending Abroad and Sojourn of
Diocesan Priests from Mission Territories,” 2001
History of International Priests in Canada
On the one hand, not a new reality - in earlier eras
international priests accompanied immigrant flocks.
On the other hand, the current reality isn’t as strongly
tied to the pastoral needs of immigrant populations
as it once was
So what is the nature of the current reality in Canada?
Comprehensive Statistics on
International Priests in Canada
Assignments in Canada?
Countries of origin?
ACBO Survey Spring 2013
12/14 responded
Total = 519 priests in ministry (not broken out
as diocesan or religious)
Largest concentration = Toronto 300
Next largest = London 36
Don’t have countries of origin
Data on International Priests in the U.S.
General Characteristics
(based on U.S. studies)
• Tend to be younger in age on average
• Tend to be more traditional (in terms of
personal piety, ecclesiology, theology)
• 8/10 have an official assignment
• 8/10 have some kind of letter of agreement
between home diocese and bishop in U.S.
• 39% have advanced degrees beyond MDiv
(mostly in philosophy or theology)
What was your primary reason for leaving home
Studies 18%
Ministry 61%
Join family 4%
Refugee 11%
Other 5%
Did you initiate the move?
My initiative 37%
My Bishop 43%
Initiated by U.S. Church 19%
Other 1%
Do you have family members living near you?
Yes 31%
When you first arrived did you have a formal
welcome by other priests or place of ministry?
Yes 64%
Brief Compare and Contrast
If You Had Your Choice Again, Would
You Enter the Priesthood?
Probably or
Definitely Not
Born in the US 76%
Born in Europe 67%
or Canada
International 84%
Importance of Open Discussion on
Multiculturalism and Diversity,
by Place of Birth
Response - “Very Important” and “Somewhat
• Born in U.S. 69%
• International 73%
Same Call, Different Men, 110
Support Experienced from Selected Sources, by Place of
“Strong” and “Somewhat Strong”
How much support do you receive from brother priests?
Born in U.S. 72%
International 59%
How much support do you receive from the Vatican?
Born in U.S. 31%
International 57%
How much support do you receive from non-priest friends?
Born in U.S. 95%
International 87%
Same Call, Different Men, 107
Confidence in the Decision Making and
Leadership of Selected Ecclesial Entities, by
Place of Birth
Response – “Some” and “Very Little”
How much confidence do you have in the USCCB?
Born in US 62%
International 44%
How much confidence do you have in the NFPC?
Born in US 75%
International 76%
How much confidence do you have in the diocesan pastoral council?
Born in US 82%
International 61%
Same Call, Different Men, 115
Regarding the Desire of Priests to
Serve in North American
Very little need to “recruit”
“I do believe that at one stage my fax, my email, and
my phone number were written on the walls of every
Third World rectory. They were calling me all the time.
Every other day it was “Father wants to come here.”
The word got out. I was sending maybe ten rejection
letters every two weeks.” (A vicar for priests in northern
International Priests in America, 69
Why Do International Priests Come to
How would you answer this question?
5 minute table discussion…
Why Do International Priests Come to
1. Missionary Impulse
“[North] America is the biggest missionary land in
the world.” (A young diocesan priest from Puerto
International Priests in America, 70-76
Why Do International Priests Come to
2. Desire for Economic Improvement
Priestly salaries in Nigeria, India, Tanzania, and
the Philippines range from $155 to $410/month
(2004 $CND).
Why Do International Priests Come to
3. Desire to Give Back
“People came from foreign countries as
missionaries, and because of them we have
Christianity, and in many ways we are
benefitting… So I feel it is my duty to give
spiritual help. That would be the best way of
showing gratitude.” (An Indian seminarian)
Interview with New York Times December 2008
Why Do International Priests Come to
4. Desire for Better Life and Opportunities
Primarily expressed as a desire to be near family
members who have come to North America.
Why Do International Priests Come to
5. To Escape a Situation in Their Home Country
“On average, whoever comes to [North America]
either had some kind of trouble in Poland or
doesn’t have a good relationship with the
bishop, or simply doesn’t feel that he can
actively be involved in any kind of ministry in
Poland.” (A religious priest from Poland)
Why Do International Priests Come to
“Immigration rules make it fairly straightforward
for foreign clergy to enter Canada. They do not
need a permit to perform religious duties, nor is
there a formal limit on how long the can stay in
the country, just so long as it’s ‘temporary.’”
“Clergy shortage affecting all denominations in Canada,” The Globe and Mail,
December 12, 2010
What are the Arguments for Bringing in
International Priests
• Need immigrant priests to serve immigrant
• International priests help to universalize the
church in our local setting
• Need international priests to fill in gaps
(shortage of priests)
The Issue of Shortage of Priests
E.g., Diocese of London
• Total population 1, 945, 000 (approx)
• Catholic population 444, 310 (2012)
• 178 priests available for parish ministry in 1991
• 100 priests available for parish ministry in 2012
• Taking into account retirements, sabbaticals, new
religious, and international priests, and ordinations
forecasted at about 1.7 diocesan priests per year, by
2025 there will be 73 priests for 131 parishes and
Nearly half of the 73 will be priests from outside North
It is very common to view international
priests through the lens of the issue of a
shortage of priests.
Different Understandings “Priest Shortage”
Three distinct notions of “shortage”:
1. Statistical
Number of priests/number of Catholics
2. Perception
Depends on the feeling of Catholics that a shortage exists, i.e.,
reflects the experience of a past situation of more priests
3. Too Much Work
Not enough priests to do what is required
International Priests in America, 32-35.
Different Understandings “Priest Shortage”
If #1 (#priests/#Catholics): the shortage is far worse in
Latin America, Asia and Africa
If #3 (too much work): Nigeria, Ghana and India have
greater shortage
So… #2 (perception): Subjective feelings exerts the
most influence on [North] American Catholics to fuel
their sense of shortage
“Priest Shortage and International
What are some implications of viewing
international priests through the lens of “priest
10 minute table discussion
10 minute feedback
“Priest Shortage”
“The pragmatic response to today’s need – ‘just
get more priests – fails to engage with the key
issues… of why there has been a steady stream
of resignations from priestly ministry and an
insufficient number of candidates for
“Priests from Overseas: Some Issues, 1-2”
Attitudes Relating to International Priests
Local Priests’ Attitudes Relating to
International Priests
“Priests from certain cultures are seen as being
more enjoyable to have… People love the
Vietnamese because they are very industrious
and they want to learn, and they really get in
there and work at it. So the Vietnamese
culture brings in something. And Indians, I
heard some very good things about them.
Some of them are very pietistic and
reverential, and they are good to work with.”
(A veteran American priest)
International Priests in America, 47
Local Priests’ Attitudes Relating to
International Priests
Importance of Selected Problems on a Day-to-Day Basis
for Priests
“Somewhat” or Great” Problem
Shortage of available priests 66%
Unrealistic demands and expectations of lay
people 53%
Difficulty in working with international priests 31%
Conflict with parishioners or laity about issue 28%
Difficulty of working with women 5%
Examples of Difficulties
1. Language
“With most of the international priests I’ve dealt
with, the biggest block, of course, is language.
Parishioners are somewhat taken aback because
they can’t understand them, particularly from the
alter, even though they might be able to
understand them one-on-one.” (A veteran female
lay minister in the East)
International Priests in America, 51
2. Cultural Misunderstandings
Interviewer: When people complain about
international priests, what do they mostly
Director: “It’s we can’t understand them when
they talk, and they don’t understand our
culture, particularly when it comes to
marriage. Marriage preparation, I think, is very
difficult.” (Director of an acculturation
International Priests in America, 55
3. Different Ecclesiology
“One group [of international priests] may come
from a culture where the priesthood is the
pedestal approach, with lot’s of hand kissing
or raising the hand to the forehead, and
treating them that way. So it becomes very
difficult for them to have to participate in
parish councils where they are asked to sit and
listen….” (A vicar for priests in the West)
International Priests in America, 59
4. Finances and Fund Raising
“Raising money here for a priest's home parish
or home country is frowned upon. But
traditional societies always ‘take care of their
people,’ so therefore the priest is expected to
take care of his family.” (A priest helping in an
acculturation program)
International Priests in America, 61
5. Don’t Mix with Other Priests
“We need to find ways in which those priests can
connect with the existing clergy… Sometimes it is
the fault of international priests as well. When a
priest comes into a rectory, there are certain kinds
of established procedures. One would be like
dinner in the evening. And I would think that most
pastors would expect that the priest would be in
for dinner at least once a week… But often times
that doesn’t happen.” (A priest with years of
experience working with international priests)
International Priests in America, 63
6. Bringing in International Priests is an Irrational
Deployment of Worldly Priestly Resources
“When somebody here talks about the priest
shortage, I always think about people in
Central America, where they’re lucky if they
see a priest once every six months in some
regions!” (A lay diocesan staff member in the
International Priests in America, 64
7. It Postpones a Much Needed Restructuring of
Parish Leadership
“I’m not sure that the bringing in of
international priests is the solution to our
problems. I think that we’ve got a lot of
planning and things to do internally. I think
we’re beginning to look at the whole question
of what do priests really do, or what should
they be doing in terms of ministry and who
else can participate in those ministries besides
clergy.” (A vicar for priests in the Southwest)
International Priests in America, 67
8. It Postpones Lay Efforts to Recruit More
“As long as people think that they can go out of the
country to bring men in, I wonder what we are
doing in terms of vocations here. As long as the
people in the parishes see priests coming in from
outside, less and less are they seeing it as
something their own family can be a part of….”
(A Vicar for priests from California)
International Priests in America, 68
Summary of Arguments Against
• Language
• Cultural misunderstandings
• Different ecclesiology
• Finances and fund raising
• Don’t mix with other priests
• Irrational deployment of world priestly resources
• Postpones restructuring of parish leadership
• Postpones lay efforts to recruit more priests
…brief feedback: do these reflect your
experience… are there other points to add?
Local Priests’ Attitudes Relating to
International Priests
• 7/10 pastors in the study said that it is at least
“somewhat” important to them to have open
discussion about collaboration with international
• “It is important to try to find out what they can
contribute to us, especially the new arrivals. They
are going through a very difficult time in terms of
their enculturation. I’m not sure anybody is asking
them seriously to reflect pastorally about what they
can help us on.” (Interview with U.S. born priest)
Same Men, Different Call
The Experiences of International Priests in
Canada and the U.S.
Measures of Happiness
Percentage saying “Very happy”
How happy are you with…
• Your sacramental and liturgical ministry 46%
• Your personal spiritual life 29%
• Conditions for ministry in your diocese 23%
• Your present living situation 21%
• Your present financial situation 16%
• The image of the Catholic priesthood in [… the]
public today 5%
“There are many problems which face priests
today. How important are the following
problems to you on a day-to-day basis?
Top 8
Loneliness of priestly life
Too much work
The way authority is exercised in the Church
Unrealistic demands and expectations of lay people
Uncertainty about the future of the Church
Theological change in the concept of priesthood
Relationships with pastor
Relationships with Other Priests (diocesan)
Do you feel accepted by other priests in your diocese?
Yes 58%
Partly 39%
No 3%
Do you attend the general gatherings of priests in your diocese?
Always 57%
Sometimes 40%
Never 4%
How often do you attend gatherings of priests from your country of
Regularly 36%
Occasionally 46%
Never 11 %
Not yet 8%
In Their Own Voice
“Here the pastor supports me very much, and
he wants me to have a fulfilling ministry. So
whatever I think I need, I ask him and he
supports me. I am talking about personal things,
like the language barrier.” (Vietnamese priest,
aged 40)
International Priests in America, 87
In Their Own Voice
“The first years when I came here, when I was
doing little things wrong and feeling like I was
only a seminarian, it was terrible! I don’t know
how guys persevere.” (A young priest from
International Priests in America, 86
In Their Own Voice
“I think everyone who leaves home has a tremendous
emotional problem that is a kind of pain that you bear
whenever there are reunions or gatherings, when you
miss your family, your language, your food, whatever.
Personally I suffer a great deal, coming from a small
place, very family-oriented, and in a kind of ministry
that was nothing to do with administration but was in
direct contact with the people. There were a lot of
youngsters, a lot of teens and kids, in a very informal
way. The priest was everywhere and the people
enjoyed the priest….” (An Argentinian priest, aged 40)
International Priests in America, 85
Most Common Themes to Come Out of
Interviews with International Priests
1. Feel inadequately oriented to ministry in new
2. Feel underappreciated by brother priests and
3. Receive unfair treatment in placements and
Holding Up a Mirror to Society
Admire cultural diversity, personal freedoms,
wide variety of opportunities.
Concern about the weakness of families, feeble
sense of community, excessive individualism,
tendency to spend money with abandon
International Priests in America, 91
Summary: narratives of disconnect and
Key Recommendations by International
1. Provide acculturation training, including instruction in English  this is
the main recommendation from international priests
2. Establish periodic gathers and support groups
3. Assure equal treatment
4. Provide more support from the diocese
5. Provide clearer rules and guidance
10 minute table discussion: In what ways can you envision your diocese
working with these recommendations?
Acculturation Programs
Local Sensitivity to the Need for
Acculturation Training
“There is not sufficient work on enculturation of
foreign clergy. We don’t get national programs.
Dioceses are scrambling to figure that out. So that’s
a huge need not being answered – we are too
quick to grab for solutions and bring in foreign
Interview with U.S. Priest, Same Call, Different Men, 79
…very few international priest access a
program of acculturation
When you first arrived did you attend
any program of orientation or
No 69%
Of the 33% who did attend a program of
How long did it last?
Less than 2 weeks 49%
1 to 6 months 25%
8 to 12 months 19%
More than 12 months 8%
Was it helpful?
Yes 96%
What was helpful?
Improved language skills for preaching 21%
Improved cultural understanding 43%
Better understanding of local diocese 32%
Other 4%
Did you have a formal mentor or support structure?
Yes 33%
Programs of Dioceses: Does our diocese have the
(percent “yes”)
A program of orientation for international priests… 51%
A program for helping international priests with English
language training… 54%
A program to help international priests become acquainted
with other priests… 49%
A program for helping international priests with immigration
procedures… 78%
International Priests in America, 22
Available Programs of Acculturation
• 8 established programs across the country
• 6/8 associated with a Catholic university or
• Program structure/methodology is varied
• Attend to regional sensitivities and other
specific needs
Available Programs of Acculturation
1) Newman Theological College/St. Joseph
Seminary, Edmonton, AB
2) St. Paul’s University, Centre for Pastoral
Formation and Spirituality, Ottawa, ON
3) Institute for Catholic Formation at St. Peter’s
Seminary, London, ON
“Enculturation Program for International Priests in Western
• Founded 2005
• A total of 166 participants (2012)
• Originated from 16 different countries: India, Nigeria, Philippines,
Poland, Ghana, Guatemala, Congo, Korea, Brazil, Sierra Leone,
Columbia, Sri Lanka, African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Cameroon &
• Priests came to serve in 18 dioceses: Manitoba (Winnipeg, St.
Boniface, Keewatin Le Pas); Saskatchewan (Regina, Saskatoon,
Prince Albert); Alberta (Edmonton, St. Paul, Calgary, Grouard
McLennan); British Columbia (Victoria, Prince George, Vancouver,
Nelson); the Yukon (Whitehorse); the Northwest Territories
(Mackenzie-Fort Smith);and Ontario (Toronto).
• Three parts: Church-related themes; Culture-related themes; Accent
• In partnership with Catholic Social Services (culture)
• 6weeks  4 weeks  3 weeks  4 weeks (fall)
• $2870/priest (all inclusive)
• New: FOLLOW-UP INTEGRATION SESSION… Spring integration session.
Provides priests with an opportunity to better integrate what they have
already learned about the Church and culture of western Canada and
present them with new topics according to their particular interests
and needs.
• Recent news
Western and Northern Canada
SPU, Centre for Pastoral Formation and
“Intercultural Formation for Priests and Religious
Coming to Minister in Canada”
• Founded 2010
• A total of 8 participants (2010/11)
• Originated from 5 different countries: Ivory Coast,
Congo, Romania, Lesotho, India
• Priests came to serve in 5 dioceses: Quebec
(Joliette); Ontario (Timmins, Toronto, Moosonee);
Manitoba (Keewatin-Le Pas)
SPU, Centre for Pastoral Formation and
• Three parts: church; culture; second language
• 3 weeks in fall
• 1 week follow up in winter
• Bilingual
• $2100 for 4 weeks (doesn’t include room/board)
• Unique: Mentor training stream: 3 week
designed to equip local mentor to encourage,
support, and challenge priest candidate)
• *On hold
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
A Program of Enculturation in Support of the Ministry of International Priests in Canada
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
• Founded 2010
• Three Goals:
1. To provide participants with the
opportunity to learn more about the
church, society and culture of Canada,
while also appreciating and affirming their
own cultural heritage and values.
2. To adhere to an adult education
3. Two way
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
•A total of 12 participants (2010)
• Originated from 8 different countries: Poland;
India; Nigeria; Romania; Bangladesh; Albania;
Lithuania; Ghana
• Priests came to serve in 3 dioceses: Ontario
(Toronto, London); New Brunswick (St. John)
• 3 weeks
• $2875.00/person. The registration fee
included all course materials,
accommodations, field trips, and all meals.
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Program Creation
Early in the development process, the program
planning committee struck a focus group to
assist with determining the program’s content.
The focus group consisted of:
• International priests currently ministering in the
Diocese of London
• Senior diocesan pastors with experience in
mentoring international priests
• Diocese of London priests with missionary
experience in Peru
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Program Outline
• Conducted on the adjoining campuses of St. Peter’s
Seminary and King’s University College.
• Instruction was Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
• Mornings were dedicated to Church topics
• Afternoons were dedicated to culture topics and accent
• Mass was celebrated during the week with the St. Peter’s
Seminary community.
• Some weekday evenings were used for informal discussion
and opportunities for feedback.
• There was no instructional time on weekends, which were
reserved for field trips, social events, and work in parishes.
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
The Catholic Church in Canada
Thirty instructional hours. Sessions were led by area experts drawn from diocesan staff, both
clergy and lay. This section was further divided into three key subject areas:
a) Pastoring in the 21st Century
• Team Ministry
• Diocesan Policies
• Finances
• Leadership and Governance
b) Sacramental and Liturgical Practices
• Baptism
c) Pastoral Concerns
• Marriage
• Catholic Schools
• Hospitals Ministry
• Youth and Young Adult Ministry
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
The Culture of Canada
Thirty instructional hours. The program was very fortunate to
engage the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, a community
partner that exists to provide settlement services and support
to newcomers and to promote intercultural awareness, to
deliver instruction for this section. Core topics included:
• History of Canada
• Geography, climate, and dressing for winter
• Canadian life and recreation
• Multiculturalism and the ethnic make-up of Canada
• Culture shock
• Social problems, social services, and child and family services
• Canadian families and gender roles
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Accent Clarity
Twenty instructional hours. Delivered by an
educator with extensive experience in teaching
public speaking skills, delivered the accent
clarity sessions. Please Note: accent clarity refers
to group and one-on-one instruction to achieve
excellence in the area of speech communication
through the adjustment of speech sounds and
vocal patterns. It is not English as a Second
Language (ESL) training.
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Participant Evaluations: Church-Related Topics
• Great enthusiasm for the opportunity to meet
with a pastoral team and discuss experiences,
• Desire for more pastorally-oriented activities
• Field trip to Martyrs’ Shrine was well worth the
• Enjoyed the opportunity to conconcelebrate at
the Cathedral and meet the parishioners
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Participant Evaluations: Church-Related Topics
• “Personally, I do not think that I discovered a lot
of things during this program….”
• “It is very important before this program to
know if the priest knows something about the
situation of the Church in Canada. There is a
very big difference between priests. It is not the
same thing if the priest comes from Europe or
comes from Africa, India.”
• “Deal only with important topics”
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Participant Evaluations: Culture-Related Topics
• Great desire for more information about:
common law living and divorce
accessing “essential services” (e.g.: health
care, police, driver’s license/mechanic)
Aboriginal issues
• “Most afternoon sessions were boring.”
• “I do not think we need to have so many topics.”
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
Participant Evaluations: Accent Clarity
• Great enthusiasm for the accent clarity sessions;
more time desired
• “Very, very good class”
• “Bingo!”
• “There is a need to consider some of the
participants who are still new or novice to the
English language. Thus there is a necessity to go
back to the root of English grammar….”
Institute for Catholic Formation at SPS
What Did We Learn About the Participants?
As observed by the planning committee:
• highly educated
• general openness to program, very respectful toward
organizers and most presenters
• wide range of abilities in use of English, verbal and
• need to spend more time on attitudes toward women and
lay ministers
• not a lot of enthusiasm for the Church-related topics
• need to incorporate more time for accent clarity
• *On hold
Outstanding Themes/Issues/Questions
Recruitment Process
1. Assessment
• Provide feedback to participants
• Provide a report on an individual priest’s ability
to work in the Canadian context.
• Offer counselling to participants who are
• Clear learning goals with follow up to see if
goals have been met?
• Implications for mandate?
Outstanding Themes/Issues/Questions
2. Accessibility
National? Pros, cons
Regional? Pros, cons
Local? Pros, cons
Online? Pros, cons
How long?
How many times a year?
Outstanding Themes/Issues/Questions
3. Curriculum
• Risk management
• Boundary issue…
• What are the key subject areas that ought to
be addressed?
Outstanding Themes/Issues/Questions
4. Recruitment Process
• Should we develop a bureaucracy that helps
dioceses identify ministerial needs for a given
year, go out and locate priests through
international contacts, bring them to Canada,
process their papers, and then finally register
them in the program?
Outstanding Themes/Issues/Questions
5. Commitment
• More than moral support
Practical Materials
What Can We Do?
Environmental Scan:
# of international priests currently in ministry in
# of years in the diocese
country of origin
Assistance with accent acquisition?
What Can We Do?
Do we have the resources to send men to a
regional program?
Do we need to set up a local experience by
accessing resources available through regional
What Can We Do?
If local, then what are the particular needs that
we have?
How do we do a needs assessment?
What Can We Do?
Should local and regional acculturation
programs assess a priest’s suitability for ministry
in Canada/local diocese?
Top six short term recommendations to
come out of entire study
1. Follow guidelines set out by national episcopal
conferences, when available.
2. Begin orienting the priests in their home country before
they arrive on our shores.
3. Prepare the receiving pastor and parish for the coming of
an international priest.
4. Expand and improve the orientation programs for
incoming priests.
5. Assign a mentor or companion to each incoming
international priest.
6. Consult with the international priests about their needs.
International Priests in America, 124

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