Renovate a Seminary in Uganda

Project Code: 158-02-19

Uganda is not lacking in vocations. At present, 220 young men from various different dioceses of the country are training for the priesthood in the major seminary in Alokolum, in the north. While this is happy news, it also presents a major challenge, since the seminary is now bursting at the seams. As a result, there is an urgent need to renovate one of the buildings in which the seminarians are housed so that it can be kept habitable, given that the available space is already very limited.

During the civil strife in Uganda, which lasted from 1988 until 2007, the seminary in Alokolum shared directly in the sufferings of so many of its people. During the war, and for some time afterwards, there was a refugee camp actually within the grounds of the seminary. As part of their studies, the seminarians are given special training in supporting and helping the traumatized population. Many people were forced to watch as their sisters, mothers, daughters or wives were raped and others murdered. Many mothers saw their children abducted and dragged off into the bush. Success Story

Nor was the Church spared by the violence. On May 11, 2003, for example, the rebels of the notorious "Lord's Resistance Army" overran the minor seminary in the Diocese of Gulu and abducted 41 of the seminarians. The youngsters were taken off into the bush and forced to train as child soldiers. Twelve of them are still missing to this day.

The people need help now to rebuild their lives. "Almost an entire generation has either been born in or grown up in the refugee camps. The whole culture of work has been destroyed, since each day the people simply took their food rations and now no longer know how to earn their own living," explains Father Cosmas Alule, the rector of the seminary.

This is where the Church has stepped in and is providing a great deal of support and counseling. While the government is helping to some extent by providing some building materials and seed for the people who are returning to their villages, by itself it is not enough. "It is a matter of helping the people to re-establish their lives in a psychological, cultural and spiritual sense as well," the rector emphasizes. A number of priests were themselves abducted, imprisoned, wounded and in some cases even killed during the war. One priest had his hands shot through with bullets as he was driving to a church.

Many of the current group of seminarians have also suffered trauma. This presents a real challenge for the formators. The spiritual directors of the seminarians have to intensively address this problem. "Yet, at the same time it is a good thing that these future priests have also shared the experiences of the people, for we need priests who know what suffering is. If someone has been through these painful experiences and still has the capacity not to be broken by them, then he can help others much better," the rector concludes.

ACN is hoping to help with a grant of $9,600 for the renovation of the residential wing, so that the seminary will not have to turn away any of these young men who are willing to place themselves in God's service as good shepherds to their people.

Will you give to renovate this seminary in Uganda? We are sure these future priests will remember you in their grateful prayers.

This project is an example of our work. Your donation will be attributed either to this or to another similar project that accords with the pastoral needs that ACN witnesses.  

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