Challenges for International Priests
International priests serving in the United States bring many
gifts and talents to their ministry, but also face distinct
challenges. One of the most pervasive challenges is that of
Even though most international priests have a strong command of
the English language, they experience difficulty being understood
by their parishioners due to lexical and accent variations. Along
with different accents, cross-cultural misunderstandings can
create a barrier for the priest, diminishing the overall
effectiveness of his ministry.
Communication and Cultural Identity
International priests want to be understood by their
parishioners in order to minister to them effectively and build
good relationships with them.
Accent training is not intended to "Americanize" the
international priest or neutralize his accent so as
to diminish his cultural identity. Rather, it aims to give the
priest skills he can implement to communicate in his ministry more
This workshop training aims to give priests the skills
- produce a standard North American accent
- proclaim the Gospel and other liturgical texts in a
listener-friendly manner for North American audiences
- learn strategies for effective interpersonal communication in
the United States.
This training is delivered in eight sessions, typically over the
span of two or three days depending on the needs and
availability of the diocese and the participants.
Using techniques from the Compton P-ESL
(Pronouncing English as a Second Language) method, participants
will progress systematically through the essential elements of
producing the target accent, including individual sounds, words,
sentences and elements of prosody (rhythm, stress, intonation and
phrasing). Participants will then apply these principles to their
proclamation of liturgical texts, as well as by negotiating meaning
in interpersonal encounters.
Through the method and exercises in Cultural Detective®, participants will
explore scenarios common to ministry in U.S. settings and discover
the differences in values that shape and define our various and
Introduction to North American Speech Patterns
This session focuses on how to train the ear to detect
derivations between one's current speech patterns and those of
target speakers and provide techniques that can be used to practice
the target speech patterns on the sound, word, and sentence
Session 2: Speech
Patterns for Increased Comprehensibility
This session teaches how to apply
target speech patterns to important features of linguistic
comprehensibility. Particular attention is given to stress, rhythm
Session 3: Speech
Patterns for Pastoral and Liturgical Ministry
This session focuses on how to apply
target speech patterns to important speech tasks for priests:
proclamation, homiletics and spontaneous speech. Particular
attention is given to phrasing, volume and speed.
Session 4: Introduction to U.S.
This session explores underlying
cultural values that shape American culture and introduces workshop
participants to how these values are expressed in social customs
Session 5: U.S. Cultural Norms
in Interpersonal Communication
This session looks at the preferred styles and content of
interpersonal interactions in the United States. Nonverbal cues and
contextual considerations are explored.
Organizational Communication in the United States
This session reviews common communication tasks involving
administrators in American parish settings and discusses the effect
of American cultural norms on organizational behavior.
Session 7: Lay
Attitudes Toward Priestly Ministry in the United States
This session looks at how American cultural norms contribute to
the lay perspective on the role of the priest in parish life.
Session 8: Building
Bridges: Awareness and Action
This session explores ways to develop intercultural competence
and apply it to future cross-cultural encounters that one is likely
to face while ministering in the United States.
Workshop cost is $2,950 for up to 16 participants (minimum 10),
and $3,450 for groups over 16 (maximum 24). Material fees are $50
per participant. Travel expenses, including meals and
accommodations, are in addition to the cost of the workshop.
Training is typically conducted between mid-May and mid-August,
but can be made available at other times of the year. To schedule a
workshop for your diocese's international priests, please contact
us via our web
Catholic Extension and the Institute for Priests and
Presbyterates have partnered to offer this workshop for
international priests in mission dioceses. The agreement covers 100
percent of the cost of training. Catholic Extension also will
share a portion of the cost of lodging for priests who require
overnight accommodations to attend the workshop.
In the summer of 2013, five grants will be awarded to bring this
workshop to mission dioceses. For more information and to submit an
online funding request for this workshop, visit the Catholic Extension website.