Progressive parishioners at an Oregon parish lashed out at their conservative African immigrant priest for instituting changes at the parish, singing, “We shall overcome.”
Pastor George Kuforiji is a Nigerian immigrant who was ordained in 2015 and moved to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in South East Oregon in 2018, according to the Catholic News Agency. Kuforiji allegedly instituted a variety of changes to the progressive parish upon his arrival that sparked backlash among attendees, according to Oregon Live.
Parishioners had reportedly attempted to make St. Francis of Assisi parish more inclusive by dropping the words “he,” “king,” and “lord” from the liturgy to describe God and instead using the words “God” and “creator” following the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s, parishioners told Oregon Live. The parish also added a “community commitment” after the Nicene Creed.
Kuforiji reportedly dropped the community commitment and reinstituted traditional language and liturgy. Parishoners also told Oregon Live that handmade vestments and a banner that said “Immigrants and refugees welcome” were discarded after Kuforiji’s arrival and that Kuforiji told them he did not know what had happened.
Parishioners pushed back by protesting during a June 30 mass, carrying signs, shouting at the priest, and singing the hymn, “We Shall Overcome” — a song associated with the civil rights movement — while Kuforiji attempted to continue saying mass, according to a video The Oregonian posted.
The parishioners reportedly initially resisted Kuforiji’s changes by passing out instruments in the pews, standing when they were told to kneel, singing their old songs and saying their community commitment after the Nicene Creed regardless of the rest of the church, according to Oregon Live.
As of Sunday mass on August 11, most of the progressive parishioners had left the church, The Oregonian reported. Kuforiji led a mass conducted quietly and reverently without maracas, tambourines, clapping or community commitment, parishioner Tom Hogan told The Oregonian, and only Hogan and five other parishioners stood up while the rest of the parish knelt.
St. Francis of Assisi Parish and the Vatican did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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