Uganda: record number of older men in training for priesthood

A seminary for mature vocations in Kampala can hardly accommodate the many candidates who want to study for the priesthood this year,  the rector says.

Fr Joseph Sserunjogi told the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), based in Germany, that the situation has reached a point where even the office rooms within the seminary and other rooms in a nearby monastery are being converted into dormitories.

For the new academic year, beginning this month, there were 48 applicants, of whom the seminary was able to accept just 28. In future, it will be essential to extend the seminary, Fr Joseph said.

The mature vocations seminary was opened in 1976. It began with  17 candidates in the first year. Of those, nine are priests and two of them have become bishops.

Presently, there are 155 men studying for the priesthood and the numbers are growing steadily. All have had other trades or professions before entering the seminary; many were teachers, others were white collar workers, policeman or vets.

The oldest candidate, who is now a priest, was 56 years old when he entered the seminary. Most, however, are aged between 24 and 31 and come from one of the 15 dioceses in Uganda or from neighbouring countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Sudan, the rector told ACN.

According to Fr Sserunjogi, the advantage of these late vocations lies in the fact that the men are "already more mature" and have reached their decision independently and with conscious deliberation. On the other hand, they tend sometimes to take longer than the young seminarians to get used to life in the seminary.

According to Vatican statistics, every fifth seminarian worldwide now comes from Africa. At the same time, however, the number of Catholics is also rising so that in many regions there are still far too few priests.

Source: CISA

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