Mission as humanisation in the life and work of Bishop Joseph Shanahan : theological evaluation of an intercultural encounter in South-East Nigeria

Oranusi, Thaddeus C. (2018-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The predilection of humanity to replace the core essentiality of its existence with a peripheral worldview is plausible. This might be due to the dearth of humanistic virtues in Christendom today, resulting from individualistic and pluralistic views on religion and religious practices. Mission barely measures up to the growing obligations of all people in the interdependent world of today. Humanisation and mission assume to be redeemable tools to reinstate the dignity and central essence of humanity, whereas pluralism and science have perverted many souls. As a result, a detailed investigation of early mission that engaged in the practice of humanisation will be carried out, particularly in the southeast of Nigeria, which will be effective to re-strategize the intent of mission in the church today. The early missions in South-East Nigeria are majorly the Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) and the Church Missionary Society (CMS). These missionaries, within themselves and within their environment, encountered much conflict and challenges, but were never deterred by these. The missionary works of Bishop Joseph Shanahan provided an example to be emulated, particularly his extraordinary approach to dealing with sociocultural and political factors, which impacted the lives of the Igbo people till date. The foundation laid by Bishop Shanahan is a lasting legacy for the fervent practice of the Christian faith and vocation in Igboland compared to communities within and outside Nigeria. This study adopts a qualitative methodology based on archival sources and other secondary data, including journal articles, magazines, book chapters, conference or seminar papers, newspapers, Internet material, and other relevant works. This research evaluates mission as humanisation with a focus on the missionary life and works of Bishop Shanahan. This is done by reviewing literature on: humanisation and mission, and on the socio-cultural and religious factors that provoked both resilience and acceptance of Christianity in Igboland; the methods and approaches adopted by the CMS and RCM in their mission, with a special focus on Bishop Shanahan’s mission; and the foundation laid by Bishop Shanahan in Igboland that sustained Catholicism and missionary growth in the region. Finally the impact of the works of the early missionaries (Shanahan in particular) in the contemporary church is also examined. The predilection of humanity to replace the core essentiality of its existence with a peripheral worldview is plausible. This might be due to the dearth of humanistic virtues in Christendom today, resulting from individualistic and pluralistic views on religion and religious practices. Mission barely measures up to the growing obligations of all people in the interdependent world of today. Humanisation and mission assume to be redeemable tools to reinstate the dignity and central essence of humanity, whereas pluralism and science have perverted many souls. As a result, a detailed investigation of early mission that engaged in the practice of humanisation will be carried out, particularly in the southeast of Nigeria, which will be effective to re-strategize the intent of mission in the church today. The early missions in South-East Nigeria are majorly the Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) and the Church Missionary Society (CMS). These missionaries, within themselves and within their environment, encountered much conflict and challenges, but were never deterred by these. The missionary works of Bishop Joseph Shanahan provided an example to be emulated, particularly his extraordinary approach to dealing with sociocultural and political factors, which impacted the lives of the Igbo people till date. The foundation laid by Bishop Shanahan is a lasting legacy for the fervent practice of the Christian faith and vocation in Igboland compared to communities within and outside Nigeria. This study adopts a qualitative methodology based on archival sources and other secondary data, including journal articles, magazines, book chapters, conference or seminar papers, newspapers, Internet material, and other relevant works. This research evaluates mission as humanisation with a focus on the missionary life and works of Bishop Shanahan. This is done by reviewing literature on: humanisation and mission, and on the socio-cultural and religious factors that provoked both resilience and acceptance of Christianity in Igboland; the methods and approaches adopted by the CMS and RCM in their mission, with a special focus on Bishop Shanahan’s mission; and the foundation laid by Bishop Shanahan in Igboland that sustained Catholicism and missionary growth in the region. Finally the impact of the works of the early missionaries (Shanahan in particular) in the contemporary church is also examined. This study proves that Bishop Shanahan’s innate and humanising qualities in mission expedited the conversion to Catholicism and domination of Catholics in Igboland. These approaches and qualities include education, the value of children and women, language learning and indigenization of vocation. Moreover, this study establishes that the contemporary church replicates respect for human dignity and humanisation, as found in the early missions, though it needs to integrate more of Bishop Shanahan’s humanising virtues. This research recommends further field studies in the area where Shanahan worked (Igboland) to validate its findings. Additionally, access to data on the early mission — as literature largely concentrated on the RCM strategies and successes — will help to elaborate on other strategies used by the early CMS.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die voorliefde van die mensdom om die noodsaaklikheid van die kern van sy bestaan te vervang met ‘n wêreld siening, is aanvaarbaar en geloofwaardig. Dit kan toegeskryf word aan die tekorte van persoonlike waardes en reinheid in hul Christelike opvatting vandag, wat ‘n direkte gevolg is van individualistiese en die meerderheidsiening oor hul godsdiens en godsdienste praktyke. Sending, kan nie vergelyk word met die verpligtinge van die mens in die al hoe kleiner wordende en interafhanklike wêreld van vandag nie. Daar word algemeen aanvaar dat menslikheid en sending, die gereedskap is om die waardigheid van die mens se siel deur sy Maker, te herstel, wat deur die wetenskap en ingewikkelde meervoudigheid, verdraai word. Die gevolg is ‘n volledige ondersoek na die vroeë sending en die uitwerking op menslike praktyke veral in suidoos Nigerië, wat effektief aangewend word in die bereiking van die sending in die huidige kerk. Vroeë sending in suidoos Nigerië was grootliks die Rooms Katolieke Sending (RKS) en die Kerk Sending Gemeenskap (KSG). Hierdie sendelinge, binne hulself, en in hul omgewing, het baie konflikte en teenkanting teëgekom, maar dit het hulle nie afgeskrik nie. Die uitstekende sending werk van veral Biskop Joseph Shanahan, was navolgings waardig.Sy buitengewone benadering van die sosio-kulturele en politieke faktore het groot invloed gehad op die lewens van die Igbo mense, selfs tot en met vandag toe. Biskop Shanahan se nalatenskap op die vurige praktyk van die Christen geloof en roeping in Igbo land vergelyk goed met ander stamme en inheemse gemeenskappe binne en buite Nigerië. Die metodes en studies is gabasseer verskeie literêre bronne en argivale berigte asook sekondere data insluitend joernaal artikels, tydskrifte, konferensies en argivale dokumente asook koerante. Hierdie navorsing evalueer sendingwerk met die klem op die lewe en werke van Biskop Shanahan. Dit was gedoen deur hersiene literatuur aangaande sosiokulturele en godsdienstige faktore oor die groeiende aanvaarding van Christendom in Igbo-land. Laastens, was die impak van werke van die vroee sendelinge in die kerk ondersoek. Hierdie studie poog om te bewys dat Biskop Shanahan deur middel van sy ingebore menslike eienskappe die proses van omskakeling na Katolisisme help versnel het. Hierdie benadering en eienskappe behels die opvoeding, waarde van vroue en kinders, aanleer van taal en die inheems wording en uitbou van ‘n roeping. Ook poog die studie om vas te stel dat die kontemporêre kerk by herhaling die respek van menswaardigheid wat deur Bishop Shanahan se reinheids- deugde in sy sending oorgedra was, uit te beeld. Hierdie navorsing bevel aan dat veldwerk uitgevoer moet word waar Shanahan werksaam was sodat dit tot geldige bevindinge bekragtig kan word. Addisionele en meer direkte toegang tot inligting en argief material aangaande die vroeë sending sal- soos literatuur- fokus op RKS strategieë en suksesse - en lig werp om die uitbreiding van strategieë in die vroeë KSG te belig.

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