More than 100 clergy and religious from Africa serving in the U.S. are expected in Los Angeles this summer for the 14th annual convention of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States. Taking place July 31-Aug. 3 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel, the convention’s theme is “The Year of Faith: 2,000 Years of Teaching and Believing.” Participants will include priests and religious from Africa who are either serving and/or studying in the United States.ACCCRUS, which has about 150 U.S.-based members, was formed to provide a network of spiritual and social support, to preserve the integrity of members’ ministry as missionaries within the cross-cultural and multicultural dynamics of American society, and to promote ongoing dialogue on solidarity between the Church in Africa and the Church in the United States. It also seeks to liaise with African bishops and major superiors and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on issues affecting African clergy and religious while in the United States on mission or studying, as well as provide assistance for the orientation of incoming African missionaries.According to the archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy’s Office, 40 African priests are currently serving in the archdiocese, from countries that include the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda. Among those serving as pastors or administrators are Father Michael Ume from Nigeria (St. Bernard, Bellflower); Father Tesfaldet Asghedom from Ethiopia (Sacred Heart, Los Angeles); Father John Kyebasuuta from Uganda (St. Thomas Aquinas, Monterey Park); Father Ikechukwu Ikeocha from Nigeria (St. Gregory the Great, Whittier) and Father Jude Umeobi from Nigeria (St. Eugene, Los Angeles).St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo currently has four African seminarians from the Diocese of Kampala, Uganda. Father John Bosco Musinguzi of Uganda, associate pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe (Rose Hill) in east Los Angeles, is an ACCCRUS member and the chaplain of an active Ugandan community that meets at St. Genevieve Church in Panorama City.Father Ume, coordinator of ACCCRUS in California, notes that African priests and religious serve nationally, and locally, in a variety of ministries. “Just as America helped bring the Gospel to Africa, now African priests and religious are sharing that Gospel in American parishes, hospitals, schools, prisons and seminaries,” said Father Ume. He points out that African priests serve in the U.S. in such capacities as pastors, chaplains, principals and teachers in schools. Locally, African priests and laity helped revive St. Eugene on Hass Avenue in Los Angeles. Facing closure due to dwindling parishioners a few years ago, the parish was twinned with St. Michael and, later, also twinned with St. Anselm on Van Ness Avenue.“Now, African laity and priests have taken over that parish and have brought it back to life,” said Father Ume. “It is once again very active and alive and self-sufficient. This is just one example of the contributions of African priests, religious and laity to the American Church.”Another example, he cites, is how African priests are now the major source of vocations for the U.S.-based Josephite congregation, founded in 1871 to minister to African-American Catholics. Father Ume notes that St. Brigid, a Josephite parish in Los Angeles on Western Avenue, currently has an African administrator, Nigerian-born Josephite Father Michael Okechukwu.“This is another practical example of African contribution to the American church,” said Father Ume. “African priests and religious are in a little way becoming the link between African American Catholics and the American Church.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0531/accrus/{/gallery}