The Catholic University of America

Raphael Asika Defense

Final Examination of Rev. Raphael Asika, M.S.P.

For the degree of Doctor of Ministry

Thursday, May 27, 2010 10:00 a.m., Caldwell Room 125


Rev. Donald J. Heet, O.S.F.S., D.Min.


A Program for Enhancing Awareness among Seminarians in Nigeria about the Implications of Sexual Abuse of Children and Young People

Anxiety and apprehension are part of the emotional mix that missionaries go through when they are assigned to cultures alien to their own. Problems associated with culture shock and transitions into alien cultures by new missionaries are as a result of fear, ignorance of the local culture, and lack of preparation. Therefore orientations and sensitivity trainings are usually organized for immigrant missionaries going into new cultures. This is true of Missionaries of St Paul (MSP) working in the United States and other countries. In 2002, however, the pastoral ministry landscape in the United States changed dramatically because of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Church. As a result, the Catholic bishops of the United States introduced the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People which contained radical measures that changed the way priests and other pastoral agents understood and carried out their ministry. The Charter has policies and measures that are meant to protect children and young people from sexual abuse by priests or pastoral agents. It has important implications for missionary priests from other cultures working in the United States.

This project was to raise awareness among MSP seminarians in Nigeria about the implications of the Charter. Nigeria has diverse cultures with diverse attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Proper understanding of sexuality and awareness of sexual differences among cultures is necessary for proper integration and appreciation of one’s own sexuality. This project was to prepare seminarians for a more effective pastoral ministry in the United States and elsewhere in the light of the new reality of ministry.

The project ran for five weeks, featuring lectures, group discussions and reflections, a video presentation, and feedbacks. There was a pre and post-questionnaire to measure the overall assessment of the project. There were twelve participants.  

Within the past year, sexuality and celibacy course has been introduced as part of the curriculum of the National Missionary Seminary of St Paul, Nigeria, as a result of this project. In this regard, the project has achieved its major objective.