If I was a Nigerian, I'd be celebrating my country's independence on the first of October: a nugget of fact I found while researching my Independence Day posts.
I've made the point before, that the Catholic Church is "catholic" - universal. That doesn't mean that Catholics everywhere share the same language and cultures, though. (January 10, 2010)
It's important to understand cultural differences, when new members of the parish come from another part of the world. Which is why we've got documents like "PCMRT Demographics - Information about Nigeria" (Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers, Cultural Diversity in the Church, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)).
"PCMRT Demographics" seems to be mostly intended as a resource for priests and others directly involved with pastoral care. It's also a pretty good resource for anyone wanting an overview of Nigerian history and culture, I think.
There's also something I think Americans could learn from, in the last paragraph:
"...Like most Africans, Nigerians do not use the envelope system in parishes nor do they register in their parishes. In general, frequent participation at parish celebrations makes one a member of the parish. It is common, then, for a Nigerian immigrant to be a 'member' of a parish community in the United States for several years without being registered and, therefore, not a parishioner from an American standpoint. The problem arises when the same 'member' approaches the pastor several years later to request a sacrament, such as marriage, and is told he or she is not a member of the parish because the person is not in the parish register...."Repeating one phrase: "...frequent participation at parish celebrations makes one a member of the parish."
I think I understand the "envelope system" that American Catholic parishes use. It's orderly, leaves a clear paper trail, and fits into our somewhat-bureaucratic habits and history.
I also think there's something to be said for the Nigerian/African system of identifying parishioners by seeing who shows up at Mass.
The "envelope system" seems to result in parishes having lots of Catholics on paper - but not so many who support the parish financially or by celebrating Mass.
Maybe those of us who were born in this country could learn something from the new Americans.