American Bishop Lauds Nigerian Church for “great spiritual richness” Amid Material Poverty

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield | Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, United States of America (USA) has lauded the Church in Nigeria for its “great spiritual richness” despite being poor materially.

In an interview with the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) during his visit to the West African nation, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki was also elated by the growing number of Christians and Catholics in the country.

“I am very impressed about the number of people in the church, the number of Catholics, and the joy that emanates from them,” Bishop Paprocki said during the Thursday, January 11 interview.

He added, “Yesterday we had Mass at Veritas University and there were over a thousand students there, we also had Mass with the seminarians at the National Missionary Seminary of St Paul.”

“Despite the fact that they may experience material poverty, they have a great spiritual richness,” the American Bishop who was making his first visit to Africa’s most populous nation said.


In a Friday, January 12 report following the interview, the Local Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield acknowledged with appreciation the growth in vocations to Religious Life in the country.

“I have noticed a lot of missionary vocations in the country. In all, I have seen a good number of people, the depth of their faith and the joy they have in their heart,” Bishop John said during the interview which he attended in the company of the Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan.

Based on the data that the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University released in January last year Nigeria was recognized as having the highest Mass attendance in the world.

According to the report, “94 percent of Nigeria’s 30 million Catholics say they attend Mass at least weekly or more, while only 17 percent of American Catholics attend Mass weekly.”

In an interview with CNA in February last year, Cardinal Peter Ebere Okpaleke attributed the spiritual richness in the country to Nigeria’s traditional worldview, the role of the family, and a sense of community within parishes.

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Bishop Paprocki disclosed that his visit to the African nation was to check on Cardinal Onaiyekan whom he described as “an old friend”. He also disclosed that he needed to know the hometown of one of his newly ordained priests.

The Bishop said that the visit was necessary as it allowed him to see the city of Abuja and learn more about the country and the church in Nigeria.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.