In Algeria, the birthplace of Saint Augustine, there are approximately 5,000 Catholics living today. Algeria, in Northwest Africa, is the largest country in Africa, with an area of almost 930,000 square miles – around one quarter the size of the United States. Close to 97% of its 36.5 million inhabitants are Muslims.
“You are the hope of this 2000-year-old Church of ours: being young in faith, you must be like the first Christians and radiate enthusiasm and courage…You will also be a leaven of missionary spirit for the older Churches.” Saint John Paul II
In Africa, the number of Catholics is growing faster than the Muslim population. The Catholic Church is also growing at a faster rate than other Christian denominations: since 1980 Africa’s Catholic population has more than tripled to 200 million. But, above all, the growth and enthusiasm of the faith in Africa is a beacon of hope for the continent and the world at large.
The commitment to teaching and formation also means these priests do not have any other opportunities of earning an income in order to support themselves, such as by working in a parish. As a result, they are very much dependent on Mass stipends.