At the end of the speeches following Mass on June 30, a group of parishioners confronted the priest, who can be heard saying "we are reverencing God."
The demonstrators then linked arms and sang "We Shall Overcome," a Gospel song typically associated with the civil rights movement in the U.S., in protest of the African-born priest.
Another attendee supporting Fr. Kuforiji as a "holy priest," was told "you don't belong here" by others in the assembly.
Tom Hogan, a 76-year-old parishioner of St. Francis and one of the few remaining parishioners who attended its grade school, told The Oregonian that many of the liturgical deviations at the parish were instituted by former pastor Fr. Donald Durand.
Durand's priestly faculties were withdrawn shortly after his retirement from active ministry in 2001. He has been accused of molesting more than a dozen preteen and teenage boys, some of whom were students at St. Francis Assisi School, and numerous lawsuits against him have reportedly been settled.
Durand was pastor at St. Francis from 1970 until 1983. He has denied all allegations of misconduct.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Portland said that the archdiocese is "happy to be working with Fr. George Kuforiji, Pastor of St. Francis Parish, to revitalize the parish so that it is able to better serve the growing population in the area as well as future generations of Catholics in Portland."
The Oregonian also reported that since late June, Mass attendance at St. Francis has dropped, and the entire choir quit and that Catholic Charities of Oregon took control of the parish's St. Francis Dining Hall, which feeds local homeless people, in early August for a temporary, three-month period.
"The Archdiocese of Portland is excited to work with the City of Portland, Catholic Charities of Oregon and the local community to re-establish St. Francis Dining Hall as a beacon of light and mercy serving those most in need," the archdiocesan statement said.