St Oliver Plunkett’s Parish Harris Park


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Mass in Igbo for Nigerian Catholics


Mass in Igbo News Story
Photography: Alphonsus Fok

From Catholic Outlook December 2012/January 2013

By Virginia Knight

As light streams through the windows of St Oliver Plunkett’s Church at Harris Park, members of the Nigerian Catholic community have come together to celebrate Mass in their native language of Igbo. For this small but growing community worship is not just about prayer but is a celebration in song and colourful national dress, welcoming all to join in their joyful liturgy.

St Plunkett’s Parish is the local ‘host’ parish for Mass in Igbo as it is central to those suburbs in Western Sydney where most Igbo Nigerians have settled. Mass is celebrated on the second Sunday of every second month at 11.30am.

Resonating with the richness of traditions and beliefs

Mass in Igbo News Story
Photography: Alphonsus Fok

The Igbo people are from south-eastern Nigeria and are one of the largest and most influential ethnic groups in this part of the country. The Igbo language has a variety of dialects and although a standard literary language was developed in 1972 it cannot convey the high and low tonal nuances of the spoken word.

Austin Okereafor from the Nigerian community explained that celebrating Mass in the Igbo language was very important for them as Catholic Christians and provided the opportunity for social interaction.

“It builds and continues to nurture our faith,” he said. “It also identifies who we are as a people (Igbo Nigerians) and fosters the sense of culture through the language.

“For our parents who visit their children and grandchildren here, celebrating Mass in the Igbo language helps in fostering the sense of a homely environment, especially for those who are unable to speak and understand English.

“Most importantly, for our children born here, it helps in instilling in them the Igbo culture, sense of communality and language.”

The principal celebrant for the regular Mass is Rev Henry Ibe, Assistant Priest at St Patrick’s Parish in Albury in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga.

Fr Henry said that celebrating Mass in Igbo was spiritually uplifting for the community and it was important for him to be a part of that.

“When they come here and are new to this country’s culture it makes a lot of sense to have one of their own to celebrate the liturgy with them in their native language while they are still in transition,” he said. “It also helps their children to tap into the cultural knowledge that their parents have brought with them from their native land.”

It is in the faith celebrations of our many ethnic communities, which resonate with the richness of their traditions and beliefs, that demonstrates the abounding cultural diversity in our Diocese. The Mass in Igbo is an illustration of this richness, not just for the Nigerian community but for all in the Catholic Faith.

Read the original article in full at the Catholic Outlook site

For more information about the Nigerian Catholic community contact: Austin Okereafor 0421 928 116, Evaton Onton 0469 627 218 or Stella Nwosu tel 0405 478 472, 02 8678 2118,


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