The African Catholic Chaplaincy Finland (ACCF) was founded on 4 June 2017, which was a Pentecost Sunday, in a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Monsignor Teemu Sippo (SCJ), the Catholic Bishop of Helsinki at the St. Mary’s Church, Mäntytie 2 in Helsinki.
The African Catholic Chaplaincy was created by Bishop Sippo to fulfill the desire of the Diocese to give African immigrants in Finland the possibility to be at ease and freely worship while going about their lives for the good of society.
Acts 2:1: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.”
Bishop Sippo collaborated with the Diocesan to form the African Catholic Chaplaincy when they detected a great flocking of African immigrants to Finland, majority of whom were Catholics, to give them possibility to integrate into the Finnish society by worshiping as Catholics and in their African cultural identity.
Bishop Sippo desired regular masses for African immigrants and he assigned priests to take care of their spiritual needs as particular groups. Moreover, he wanted to see them integrate into the Finnish society and Catholic groups not as separate entities but completely for their sacramental, spiritual, moral, psychological and financial wellbeing.
The African Catholic Chaplaincy in Finland is a structure of the Diocese fully under the responsibility of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Helsinki. The Bishop officially handed the responsibility of the African Chaplaincy to the Chaplain, Reverend Father Leonard Wobilla, who is fully responsible on behalf of the Bishop and the Diocese for spiritual life and other activities of the Chaplaincy within the Catholic Church in Finland.
Although members of the African Catholic Chaplaincy have regular masses and Father Leonard takes care of the spiritual life, they still belong to the different parishes of the Diocese.
The uniqueness in the creation of this Chaplaincy is that although there are many immigrants coming in, there seems to be a growing African cultural identity and the authentic and special way of life.
ACC is for all African immigrant Catholics in Finland, and they remain members of the different parishes in the 8 parishes. Since majority of them are in the Helsinki area, masses are mostly celebrated in Helsinki. But the Chaplain travels to different parts of the country to celebrate masses with other African immigrants there.
In addition to the fact that the African immigrants Catholics have a priest taking care of their sacramental and spiritual life, they are not limited to that alone. They are free to go to other priests and parishes for their spiritual and other needs. They are also entitled to spiritual and sacramental benefits from the different parishes of their own. The structures of the African Catholic Chaplaincy belong to different parishes according to their addresses.
Since its establishment, many visiting priests have celebrated and continue to celebrate mass with the Chaplaincy.