The mission theology of the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers in Igboland, 1905--1970, in the light of the changing face of mission today: Toward a mission theology for the Igbo Church

Charles Achunike Ebelebe, Marquette University

Abstract

The Catholic Church in recent times has had to look more and more towards the Churches of the South for its missionary personnel. Thanks largely to the Igbo Catholic Church of southeastern Nigeria, which is the pride of the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers' (Spiritans) missionary apostolate of the 20th century, Nigeria is the greatest contributor to Africa's share of this pool of new missionaries from the South. This dissertation seeks to answer the question, what mission theology informed the Irish Spiritan missionary apostolate in Igboland and how does it relate to the mission theology of the Igbo Church today? The mission theology of the Irish Spiritans was forged in the ongoing Tridentine and Counter-Reformation faith environment of the late 19th and early 20th century Ireland. This environment produced a Church that was sacramentalized, devotional, conservative, and clerical. This was essentially the Church the Irish Spiritans took to Igboland, and the Church that has more or less remained in Igboland until now. This is regrettable. Only a genuine and wholehearted effort at inculturation can help change this, and so far the Igbo Church, with help from the Vatican, has done a less than adequate job of this. The Igbo Church must have a rethink if it hopes to avoid the crisis that has befallen the Irish Church in recent times, and if its growing number of missionaries will be better ambassadors of Christ to the nations. To better equip its missionaries, the Igbo Church must be selective in what it reclaims from its Irish heritage and must draw from the resources of Igbo traditional culture and religion. It is in the interest of the universal Church that the Igbo Church succeeds in this important task for failure here will entail significant consequences for the Church's mission to the nations.

Recommended Citation

Ebelebe, Charles Achunike, "The mission theology of the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers in Igboland, 1905--1970, in the light of the changing face of mission today: Toward a mission theology for the Igbo Church" (2007). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3263812.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI3263812

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