Nightly News   |  March 31, 2013

Catholicism growing in Ghana

While the Roman Catholic Church struggles in some parts of the world, the church in Africa is being embraced like never before. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.

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>>> finally on this easter sunday, while the roman catholic church struggles in some parts of the world, including here in the united states , the church in africa is being embraced like never before. nbc's stephanie gosk recently traveled to ghana where the church plays an increasingly central role in people's lives.

>> reporter: far from the fresco and guilt the altars of rome, one of the few places in the world where the catholic church is growing -- the west coast of africa. a catholic mass in ghana looks familiar in some ways, distinctly different in others. this mass runs 2 1/2 hours. and still the pews fill up with spillover forced outside. the occurrence at this church is repeated across west africa . congregations are big, and getting even bigger and the faces are very young. in the build-up to the conclave, ghana 's 64-year-old cardinal peter turkson got a lot of attention as a possible pope, especially for those pulling for him back home.

>> we never thought a half-black man would be president. so i think he can be the pope.

>> reporter: there's bound to be some disappointment now that the cardinals have chosen. but enthusiasm for the faith is unwavering.

>> he encourage me to believe in god and that help me to believe in my faith.

>> reporter: god really is everywhere in ghana . there's the book shop called god's time is best. the god never fails cement company. if your pipes burst, try true god plumbers. the church often steps up in ghana where the government struggles. in cape coast , cardinal turkson 's former archdiocese, 60% to 70% of all medical care and education are provided by the catholic church . mercy hospital specializing in women's health care was the cardinal's idea.

>> it is about the contribution the church makes.

>> reporter: those contributions are one reason the church will continue to grow, even without a black pope , the face of catholicism is changing. stephanie gosk, nbc news, cape coast , ghana .