Formators at Nigerian Seminary Risking their Lives on the Road for Lack of Accommodation

Credit: Fr. Samuel Kanta Sakaba, Rector of a Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna

Formators at Good Shepherd Major Seminary of Nigeria’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna are risking their lives every day as they travel to and fro the formation facility that does not have adequate accommodation for them.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Rector of the Seminary, Fr. Samuel Kanta Sakaba, said that the current Fathers’ house cannot accommodate everyone on his team, a situation that is forcing a majority of the formators to stay outside the institution’s premises.

“Those coming here to give lectures and to oversee other spiritual activities with our Seminarians live in other places. Anything can happen between the Seminary and where the formator is living. In this part of Nigeria, you are always likely to find yourself at the centre of an attack along the way,” Fr. Sakaba said.

He added that living outside the Seminary also denies the formators the much-needed opportunity for them to form the Seminarians holistically.

“Formators are supposed to work directly with the Seminarians. They are supposed to be with the Seminarian in the church, around the sports arena, in the rectory and in other places and activities,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest said.


He continued, “The more the formator is with a Seminarian the better. But at the moment, however, we are having formators who are coming and going back to the places where they stay.”

“If it were possible, we would have a bigger Fathers’ house that can take in every member of the formation team. This should even foster the spirit of unity in the Seminary,” he said in the January 12 interview

“In the meantime, we do what we can to form these young men,” Fr. Sakaba said, and added, in an appeal for support of Good Shepherd Major Seminary, “In addition to prayers, we need material support; we need physical protection from the attacks.”

“Here, we need more accommodation for our formators. Space within the Fathers’ house is not sufficient to accommodate them at the moment. If we had help, we would erect a rectory that would house them all so that they won’t have to risk their lives traveling to-and from this place on a daily basis,” said the Rector of the Seminary, which was attacked in January 2020 in a kidnapping incident in which a Seminarian, Michael Nnadi, was killed.

“As formators, we can do more if we get material support to assist in the formation of our Seminarians, to represent not only the Church in Nigeria but also the universal Church,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest told ACI Africa.

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He said that the Seminary, which has a current enrolment of 265 Seminarians in theology and philosophy faculties, has remained resilient since the 2020 kidnapping incident. Last year, Good Shepherd Major Seminary registered an enrolment of 261 Seminarians.

“The numbers have been growing since the 2020 attack,” he said, and added, “We believe that the Gospel message is more and more being desired in the part of Nigeria. The seed of the gospel is very active and strong despite the persecution. More people go to Church in parts of Nigeria that are experiencing Boko Haram attacks and other activities of the bandits.”

In his January 12 interview with ACI Africa, Fr, Sakaba addressed the spirituality of martyrdom that has been found to be taking root in Nigerian seminaries. The spirituality has been brought to the fore by seminaries who shared that they were ready to die for their faith after surviving kidnapping by jihadists and other criminal gangs in Nigeria.

The priest also shared that since the 2020 attack at Good Shepherd Major Seminary, the institution has had an air of uncertainty.

He said that some of the kidnappers who were arrested in the incident had been released, a situation he said had plunged the seminary into “fear of the unknown.”


“It hasn’t been easy for us since the release. The community was thrown into confusion because of the unknown. We don’t know what will happen next. We don’t know when they will come next or what they will do to us. We don’t know who will be taken next,” Fr. Sakaba said.

He added, “It hasn’t been easy, particularly within the few days of that incident. The resilience of the Seminary community including seminarians, formators, members of staff, has been great. God has been supporting and encouraging and leading us. His grace assisted us to continue to practice our faith.”

The priest said that the jihadist attacks, which continue unabated in communities surrounding the Seminary, don’t make the situation any easier.

“Every attack that happens outside our community reminds us of our own 2020 experience. We are shocked, and although we remain deeply wounded, we believe that God has been leading us,” he said.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.