Francis Cardinal Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a member of the Roman Curia, the Holy Father’s direct staff, will visit Saint Vincent Archabbey and Seminary April 29 and 30.
He will be the principal celebrant and homilist of the Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 29, which will include the dedication of the recently-completed Basilica spires and the blessing of the new baptismal font in the Archabbey Basilica.
Cardinal Arinze is a member of the Executive Committee of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the Laity. He is one of the five cardinals on the presiding council of the Holy Father’s central coordination committee for the Great Jubilee Year 2000.
Born in 1932 in Nigeria, Cardinal Arinze was baptized a Catholic at age 9, and entered the seminary at age 13. He was ordained a priest in 1958, a bishop in 1965 and a cardinal in 1985.
As archbishop and later as President of the Nigerian Council of Bishops, Cardinal Arinze was a major contributor to the mobilization of the native clergy, religious and laity following the civil war in Nigeria, which ended in 1970,. He led the evangelization movement in Nigeria, which doubled the number of Catholics in the country in less than 14 years. By the time he was called to serve in Rome in April of 1984, 66 percent of the population in his Archdiocese was Catholic, in comparison to the Nigerian national average of 11 percent.
As an experienced leader in the Church and a man rooted in the Nigerian background, he understands the spiritual attack on the family, the importance of the Eucharist, the potential impact of a growing seminary, and the art of evangelization. He is also a leading television personality in the United States and throughout the world.
Parts of this biography were taken from a cover story in Our Sunday Visitor and the Apostolate for Family Consecration of the Archdiocese of New York, with permission.