St. Augustine of Canterbury Church, Leeds Centenary Book.1905-2005

The African Community in St Augustine’s

A few years ago in 2001, the number of Africans attending St Augustine’s Catholic Church was insignificant. At the end of Mass it wasn’t difficult to count the numbers but over the last few years there has been a gradual increase. In fact during the last twelve months there has been a sudden ‘surge’ in the African community worshiping at St Augustine’s. This is pleasurable because there are various ethnic groups of Africans although the majority come from West Africa. Some are English speaking from Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia or Zimbabwe while a majority of others are French speaking from The Congo (Central Africa), Cameroon, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and others.

Africa is a very large continent, and there are many Africans from different parts, yet the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is the same all over Africa. We celebrate the Eucharist with spiritual songs and dancing, drums and various musical instruments that take you to the heavenly heights.

We are all grateful to Fr. Michael for his welcoming smile and spirit and to various members of St Augustine’s community who recognise a new face, and welcome that person, seeking a fellow African to introduce them to immediately. We use Claire McLoughlin as a point of contact and hope that in the not too distant future we will be able to celebrate the Holy Eucharist with all the parishioners, in the real African style – but without the live chicken!
(Dorothy Oboite from Nigeria)

I Was a Stranger and You Invited Me in’

As we people of St Augustine’s are ready to celebrate the centenary of the church, this is a great opportunity for my family and I to thank all those who have welcomed us and helped us to settle in this house of our Lord.

I remember my first Sunday at St Augustine’s when members of the church recognized me as a newcomer and they received me in a special manner. I can assure you that other newcomers share my sentiment and appreciation because those I have talked to shared the experience of being accepted for who they are.

Maybe the fact that St Augustine’s is multicultural is a common bond for the churchgoers. But for somebody like me who spent ten years in Russia, this multiculturalism was a surprise and pleasure. So, every Sunday when I find myself in the crowd united in the belief in Almighty God I realise that I had been missing something in Russia. Although I prayed at home it was impossible to share my prayer and appreciation of the Lord in the mass. As it is written in the French mass book, a Christian must not only pray alone because he will never experience the sense of community given to us by Christ by praying and singing loudly with his brothers and sisters.

Thus, I have attended our church regularly since I arrived in Leeds. Later, I joined the parish walking group which is very friendly and has also helped me to integrate in this parish. I am blessed to be a member of this church, as are others, because my family and I were welcomed as if we were born in this church. By attending the church on a regular basis, I was able to fully appreciate the glory of Almighty God who guides all of us. We pray as a family without any prejudice or distinction. The members of the church come from different cultures, different backgrounds and different races. We all value the dignity of every human being as Christ and the late John Paul II taught us. Our community is bound by the belief in the power of Jesus Christ who came to save us.

Special thanks to Fr Michael, who is doing a wonderful job of creating a loving community where everyone is accepted. He also always encourages us to break down the walls between the races in the name of Jesus. We thank Almighty God for everything he has done for us. We pray that Jesus Christ continues to inspire every member of this church in one spirit. We thank God for giving us St Augustine’s. Roger Nyantou

Some of the African parishioners taking part in the Offertory Procession (African style) during the Centenary celebration Mass.

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