A large parish has so much potential for community if you know where to look. Making personal connections transforms a parish into a family. Paul and Ogechi Kamanda have experienced this. When they began attending All Saints in 2015, they noticed a need for a space to connect with other African parishioners.
“The African population here is big, but a lot of people were not participating in church events,” Paul says. “There was a need for something where people feel belonging and church becomes more than just Sunday Mass.”
In 2019, Paul and Ogechi helped start the African Ministry. The African Ministry is a place to connect culturally, but it has become much more. From family-like support to spiritual growth and fellowship, the African Ministry draws its members into parish life by encouraging involvement in other ministries.
“Once someone feels a sense of belonging, they’re more inclined to participate in other things and take their faith more seriously,” Ogechi says. “It’s important to have a community that challenges you.”
Another key member of the African Ministry is James Bamba. The ministry helped James feel like All Saints was his home and he hopes to share that. His involvement in the community made his faith real and led him to live it out.
“I used to be a casual Catholic,” James says. “I would go to church and go home. Now I’ve become involved in so many activities in the church. Because of this ministry, I feel like I belong in the church and in Dallas. This ministry is like a family for me.”
Paul and the others realized that many members had attended All Saints for years but never registered. They began to encourage everyone to register at the parish. Registering is a critical first step to staying in the loop about parish life.
The African Ministry meets on the third Sunday of each month after the 11 a.m. Mass. Meetings share announcements about the ministry and the parish, and give members a chance to socialize over snacks, maybe in their native language. Outside of monthly meetings, the ministry communicates over WhatsApp and the vibrant young adult community within the group plans a variety of events. Other parishioners may have seen the African Ministry at work leading a Rosary before Mass, putting on a Lenten meal, or at Fall Fest.
Many African parishioners are in Dallas without family and English may be their second or third language. The African Ministry provides a place where those barriers can be overcome and is an entry point into the life of the parish. Other parishioners can support the African Ministry simply by being welcoming.
“A lot of our members are here by themselves and don’t feel connected to the parish or city,” Ogechi says. “Just get to know them, embrace them, and they’ll have more sense of belonging.”
To learn more about the African Ministry, contact Paul Kamanda at email@example.com, or James Bamba at firstname.lastname@example.org.