|dc.description.abstract||My research is a case study of the St. Thomas More African Catholic Community Mass that meets at St. Thomas More College, a Catholic liberal arts college federated with the University of Saskatchewan. The main purpose of my research is to investigate the role the Catholic Church plays in the adaptation of African Catholic newcomers to Saskatoon. I chose the STM African Mass as a case study because I was interested to know the following: 1) whether African newcomers’ perceptions about religion have changed after moving to Canada, 2) whether the availability of culturally appropriate worship opportunities in the Catholic Church has facilitated their adaptation to Canadian society, and if so, to what degree; 3) whether they have the same commitment to their religion after moving to Saskatoon. The study also investigates the challenges to integration faced by African Catholics in Canadian society: the culture shock experienced by newcomers, e.g., weather issues; difficulties balancing church attendance and work; problems of native Canadians understanding African accents; discrimination and racism; and unemployment and under-employment for the sake of survival, among other challenges. The 20 participants I interviewed felt that much more should be done by the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Saskatoon and the African Catholic Mass to help them deal with these challenges. Some members felt that STM Mass has helped them in different ways, such as the sense of togetherness, the flavour of how it is at home (the preaching, the singing), the sense of belonging, and the experience of joy. But the main challenges still remain for individuals to deal with personally.
The study has presented in depth the core themes that emerged from the interviews, such as culture shock, the assertion that Africans are notoriously religious (African religiosity), and the Roman Catholic theology of inculturation, which have functioned as frameworks for the study.
In the interview findings, the members said that religion is very important to them and in their lives. Their religiosity was demonstrated by their frequent attendance at weekday and Sunday masses, participation in church activities both in Africa and in Saskatoon, and the creation of STM African Community Mass to solve some of their challenges, and meet their spiritual and emotional demands.
This study proposes some ways of addressing some of these challenges. The findings of the study also provide insight to Catholic Churches in Canada that will help them be more responsive to the needs of African newcomers and thus facilitate their easier transition and integration into Canadian society.||