SAMUELS: Meet ACCCRUS - The African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious

December 13, 2022

Father Sebastine Okoye, pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea, Father Ekenedilichukwu “Jude” Ezuma, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Galveston, and Father Reginald Samuels, pastor of St. Hyacinth Parish in Deer Park and vicar for Catholics of African Descent, attend the Archdiocesan African Cultural Heritage Festival Mass in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Father Reginald Samuels)

As we celebrate the 175th anniversary of our Archdiocese, we are called to celebrate the diversity that is incorporated within our local Church community. The Archdiocese acknowledges the diversity and has created vicars or priests to represent the various ethnic communities. There is a vicar for Vietnamese Catholics, a vicar for Filipino Catholics, and I am currently the vicar for Catholics of African Descent.

One of the jobs as vicar of Catholics of African Descent is to promote the various diverse communities that make up the African and African American Catholic community here in our Archdiocese. There is one organization that addresses the needs of the faithful that are from the African continent itself.

ACCCRUS is an acronym for the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States. It is an association of priests and religious men and women from Africa who are working and/or studying in the United States and throughout our own Archdiocese. The organization was formed to provide an environment of spiritual and social support to them.

One of the main missions of ACCCRUS is to organize seminars and workshops to make their ministry within the national Church more effective as missionaries within the cross-cultural and multicultural dynamics of American Society.

My job as vicar is to bridge the information gap between the African bishops and major superiors with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on issues affecting the African clergy and African religious on mission in our country. We are charged with giving the African clergy and African religious men and women who serve here in the United States a platform for the promotion of solidarity and reliance between the Church in the United States and the African Church.

This past November, there was a celebration of the third-annual Archdiocesan African Cultural Heritage Festival Mass at St. Cyril of Alexandria Church. Led by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Father Innocent Njoku, the president of the Houston chapter of ACCCRUS, this special Mass for the Archdiocese brought attention to how the cultural expressions of faith unique to Africa were brought to America.

In the Mass celebration, there was traditional African dress from a wide variety of countries represented from Africa, along with a presentation of the various languages, music and dance from the African Continent.

You can hear more about ACCCRUS on my podcast “In His Light with Father Reginald Samuels” on Apple podcast and Spotify.

Father Reginald Samuels is the vicar for Catholics of African Descent and pastor at St. Hyacinth Catholic Church in Deer Park.