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ACU forms lay ministers in Nigeria

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The Australian Catholic University's Centre for Liturgy offered a four-week online training program in February 2024 for lay liturgical ministers of the Word in Nigeria, the first such program in Africa for the centre. Photo: OSV News photo/Afolabi Sotunde, Reuters
The Australian Catholic University’s Centre for Liturgy offered a four-week online training program in February 2024 for lay liturgical ministers of the Word in Nigeria, the first such program in Africa for the centre. Photo: OSV News photo/Afolabi Sotunde, Reuters

By Ngala Killian Chimton

The Australian Catholic University’s Centre for Liturgy offered a training program for lay liturgical ministers of the Word in Nigeria. The program, delivered online, aims to equip participants with spiritual and technical skills needed to effectively proclaim the Word and serve in their ministry.

The four-week program, conducted throughout February, covered topics such as liturgy, the Bible, the church’s liturgical year, and the documents and guidelines of the universal church. The program also addressed the specific needs and challenges of the church in Nigeria, such as the translation of the Bible, pastoral practice and cultural diversity.

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Cathy Murrowood, liturgy educator at the ACU Centre for Liturgy, told OSV News that the program was designed in consultation with the parish leaders in Nigeria, who expressed interest in a comprehensive and relevant training program from a dedicated liturgical centre.

“The church in Nigeria places great importance on worship so they train their ministers well. They were looking for a comprehensive program from a dedicated liturgical centre with liturgy specialists. We are honoured to be able to offer this program to them and to support them in their ministry,” Murrowood told OSV News.

She said the program was adapted to meet the specific needs of Nigerian lay ministers. Sixty Catholics participated in the training.

“We made changes to the translation of the Bible in the program so that technical exercises corresponded to the Lectionary used in Nigeria. We were able to discuss aspects of pastoral practice in the Nigerian church and make some adjustments to the program,” she told OSV News.

Uju Nwoga, a member of the Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Lekki, located in Nigeria’s Lagos state, who solicited the training, told OSV News that it provides an opportunity “to reinforce and validate what we are already doing in our ministry, helps us to appreciate cultural differences with respect to our ministry and provides the platform to make inquiries on matters pertaining to our faith from experts in the ACU Centre for Liturgy.”

For Murrowood the need for ministers is to go beyond just reading the Word of God. They have to proclaim it if their ministry aims to be successful.

“The term ‘proclaimer’ is commonly used by the church to describe those who undertake ministry of the Word in the church’s liturgy,” she said.

“Proclaimers are people of faith who understand that God speaks to his people through sacred scripture. ‘Proclaim’ comes from Latin, ‘pro’ and ‘clamare,’ meaning ‘cry out’ or ‘shout forth.’ Proclaiming, then, is much more than simply reading words on a page,” Murrowood emphasised.

“A dynamic proclamation evokes a prayerful response in believers,” she explained.
Part of the training, she said, involves an exploration of the significance of proclamation so that all can become more effective ministers.

The program is delivered through a combination of online resources, videos, quizzes and live Zoom classes, where participants can interact with the facilitators and other ministers.

The facilitators are experts in liturgy and ministry from the ACU Centre for Liturgy and other partner institutions.

The program is the result of collaboration between the centre and the Archdiocese of Lagos, which expressed interest in providing quality training for its ministers of the Word.

The archdiocese has over 200 parishes and more than 1,000 ministers of the Word, who serve in various liturgical celebrations.

Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with the best Mass attendance. As many as 94 per cent of self-identified Nigerian Catholics surveyed said they attend weekly or daily Mass, according to a study published in early 2023 by Georgetown University’s Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

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