Angola’s eight million Catholics are served by 800 priests, essentially one priest for every ten thousand faithful. (It is surprising that after almost 30 years of war and severe repression under a Marxist government that 55% of Angolans still identify themselves as Catholic – and that a robust and active community.) Parishes and chapels are often extremely remote, with many dispersed communities clustered around small chapels. The priests do what they can, visiting the far flung communities once a month at best, less during the rainy season. On the remaining Sundays – the vast majority - the faithful are attended to by catechists.
Paulino is one of Angola’s 31,000 catechists. He is active in the Lwena diocese, which covers close to 200,000 square kilometres. Paulino is also a husband, the father of eight children and a grandfather to four grand-children. As in many other African countries, the Church is only able to survive thanks to lay catechists such as Paulino. This is his story.