ACU Centre for Liturgy leads 60 Nigerians through online training program

Liturgy experts from Australian Catholic University (ACU) have concluded the first online training program offered exclusively to Catholics in Nigeria.

Sixty Nigerian Catholics serving as Ministers of the Word at three separate parishes in the Archdiocese of Lagos completed a four-week online training program custom designed by the ACU Centre for Liturgy. Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria, with a population of 20 million people and of that, two million are Catholics.

It is the first time the ACU Centre for Liturgy, which is officially endorsed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has provided online liturgical formation for an entirely international cohort.

One of the participating parishes from Lagos registered 27 lay ministers for the program as well as their two parish priests.

The Centre’s Liturgy educator, Cathy Murrowood, led the Nigerian parishioners through a Ministers of the Word online training program modified to respect several differences in the country’s liturgical practices. For example, while the Church's guiding documents are universal, the Nigerian Lectionary features a different translation of the Bible.

Mrs Murrowood said one of the parish’s lay leaders found the ACU Centre for Liturgy’s course on the internet and enquired about educating their lay Ministers of the Word.

“The parish leaders we spoke to take ministry formation very seriously and regularly provide formation and renewal programs for all involved in liturgical ministry,” Mrs Murrowood said.

“In Nigeria, you can’t be a lay liturgical minister unless you’re trained.

“Those who registered for our program are continuing ministers who wanted to renew and deepen their understanding of liturgical ministry and hone their technical skills.”

Mrs Murrowood said there were limited online programs that trained liturgical ministers as comprehensively as the ACU Centre for Liturgy.

The ACU Centre for Liturgy’s online liturgical formation program offers participants weekly online modules with live Zoom classroom sessions and includes a compulsory practical training session with a local pastor. This format was replicated for parishioners from Lagos.

Mrs Murrowood said Catholics in Australia could learn from the commitment of African Christians.

“I think we can learn a lot from their commitment and their expectation that they don’t just allow anyone in the parish to Proclaim the Word,” Mrs Murrowood said.

ACU Centre for Liturgy director Professor Clare Johnson said it was an honour to support the liturgical education of Nigerian Catholics.

“We are both excited and delighted to connect with our fellow Catholics in Nigeria through ACU’s liturgical ministries online training program,” Professor Johnson said.

“The Catholic Church constantly needs to train enthusiastic members of the faithful, both new and more experienced, to undertake liturgical ministries. 

“When well-trained Catholics perform liturgical ministries with knowledge, belief, and confidence, liturgical celebrations are enhanced, and our faith is strengthened. We truly welcome the opportunity to engage with our African brothers and sisters in this special educational program.”

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