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‘Everything is new’: Inside the workshop for foreign clergy serving in the U.S.

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/13/17

With more parishes in the United States hosting priests from other countries, here’s a fascinating look at what it is like for these newly arrived priests, from Katie Rutter inThe Criterion:

A group of 14 priests sat around tables, sharing stories and laughing together. Some would stop mid-sentence to mentally translate from their native tongue into English. Each understood the struggle of learning an entirely new culture. “American coffee is very different from Italian,” explained Father Daniele Criscione, a native of Sicily, on Oct. 19. He had only been in America for two weeks. “I miss it, so much,” he said, prompting laughter from the whole room. Father Crispine Adongo, who grew up in Kenya, spoke of the difficulty to execute as simple a task as bathing. “I turned the water on, and the water is not coming from the shower, it’s coming from the spout with the tab,” he said, relating that he had to seek out another priest to show him how to operate the shower. “I’m struggling here, how do I make this water come from above?” he laughed. The men were gathered for a weeklong conference called the World Priest Workshop. Hosted by Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, the training aims to give clergy a sure footing as they begin ministry in this country. Most of these priests recently arrived from international locations to serve in dioceses across the United States. Many of them will remain in America for four to six years. Some will be an associate pastor in a parish; others will have the full weight of pastoring a parish on their shoulders. “Everything is new,” said Father Francis Joseph Kalapurackal, a native of India. “The essence of priesthood in every culture and every continent is the same, but the way we function as priests is basically different. It has to work with the systems here.”

Discover what those systems are, and how they’re addressed, atthe link.

Photo: Katie Rutter/The Criterion

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