USA - Reverse Missionaries

J. Froese

On a sunny morning at St. Benedict the African Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, Father Rukulatwa Kiiguta stepped into the center of the sanctuary to preach.

“My brothers and sisters, yes, we do have this mission of saving souls by bringing them to Christ,” he told the assembly, looking around at the 50-odd people gathered in the Black Catholic parish, many of whom nodded as he spoke.

Kiiguta moved to the U.S. from his home in Tanzania for exactly that reason. After meeting an American priest who had traveled to East Africa to recruit seminarians, Kiiguta joined the ranks of about 15 African priests in Chicago. He sees his work in the Englewood neighborhood—where many families struggle to make ends meet, but Catholics pour their hearts into their parish—as God’s will.

This missionary’s story reflects a fundamental shift in the American Catholic church. After decades of U.S. missionaries traveling to Africa to convert and preach, the trend is reversing: Across the country, parishes now rely on the ministry of international priests, many from East Africa and Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the number of American priests is tumbling: there are 10,000 fewer priests now than there were two decades ago., 25 December 2023


This writer is reminded of his time in German class in Vienna, Austria back in 2014: two classmates were African priests, who were learning German to minister in Austria. This is not just limited to the Roman Catholic Church; in a number of Christian denominations, clergy from Africa coming to developed nations is not uncommon. This will likely increase in the future as we see decreasing birth rates, declining interest in Christianity, and a drop in the number of young people willing to become ministers of the Gospel in the West. We cannot help but be reminded of Matthew 9:37-38: “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” -J. Froese

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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