Documentary tells story of how Nigerian priests adapted to life in Scottish Highlands

The story of two Nigerian priests who were sent to the Highlands due to staff shortages in the Roman Catholic Church is the subject of a new documentary.

Father James Anyaegbu and Father Max Nwosu, from the city of Aba in the south-east of the country, are taken to football games and ceilidhs by their congregation. The remarkable relationship between the two young men and their largely elderly flock features in a BBC Scotland film called Our Fathers, which is due to air this month.

Father Anyaegbu, 33, said he was enjoying his work in a place far removed from where he grew up and trained. “I had heard about the football and Celtic,” he said. “I have come to know a lot more about the country since we have been here.”

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He said the film, which is directed by Zoe Hunter Gordon and Kieran Hennigan and premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival this week, “sheds a positive light on Scotland”.

The documentary tells the story of how the Nigerian priests adapted to life in the Scottish Highlands and west coast. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

“We enjoyed it because it is an appreciation of our mission in Scotland,” he said. “The time was when missionaries from Ireland, from Scotland, would come to Africa.

“Because of the universality of the Church now, there is a reciprocity of that charitable act between the two nations.”

He and Father Nwosu were sent to Scotland due to a shortage of local priests. Churches of all faiths have closed over recent years and many parishes are served by one priest as congregations dwindle.

The pair came to Scotland in 2015 and serve seven parishes stretching from the town of Beauly, near Inverness, to Poolewe and Ullapool on the west coast.

Between them, they conduct four Sunday masses a week during the summer across the Highlands. In Nigeria, congregations can number many thousands but in Scotland their masses are seldom attended by more than 80 people. In the film, the priests are seen singing with residents at an old people’s home and staging a concert of African music at a village hall.

Parishioner Roberta Robertson told the filmmakers: “We’re not going to let them leave.”

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