SHORT-TERM missionaries-priests, religious, laymen and laywomen from Europe and America-could supply some of the needs of the missions in Africa for some of the time, writes Fr. Patrick O'Connor, a Columban Father who has recently made a tour of Africa including the Sudan, Uganda, the Belgian Congo, Angola, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The mission societies and religious orders now in Africa cannot supply all the needs of this fast-changing continent. The local clergy will not be numerous enough for years. neither will African lay leaders.
Circumstances are favourable now. People are more than friendly. Governments are helpful. Living conditions today are good. Most of the teachers and medical workers in mission institutions receive salaries from the Governments, with passagepaid home leave at frequent intervals. Valuable work can he done without learning any African language. Already there are many shortterm missionaries in the field, although many more are needed. Thirty-four diocesan priests from Six Belgian dioceses are working in colleges, schools. and parishes in the Belgian Congo and RuandaUrundi. When they leave. it is expected that they will be replaced by other priests from the same dioceses in Belgium.
Nine lrish diocesan priests and one from Scotland are working in Nigeria with missionaries of St. Patrick's Society. Some French diocesan priests are helping in French Equatorial Africa.
In Nigeria 122 Irish laymen and laywomen are helping the missionaries as teaehers, doctors. and nurses. Also in Nigeria there are nine American lay mission helpers engaged mainly in Catholic press and publishing work: they are part of a group sponsored by Cardinal McIntyre, Archbishop of I.os Angeles, for several mission fields.
But time is running out, "There is a big opportunity yet. but we have almost missed the tide," said a veteran missionary in Western Nigeria. " I could use at least twice as many priests as 1 have now," said Bishop-elect Finn, S.M.A.. of lbadan. Archbishop Bruniera. Apostolic Delegate to the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urandi. quoted a parish in Urundi of 65,000 Catholics and 15,000 pagans with only three priests. Pleading for more priests, he said: " We have five or six years before us. in advantageous circumstances. After that, materialistic ideas will have entered..."