Ongoing Formation Program Seeks to Help Christians "go deeper in faith”: Priest in Uganda

Participants listen during the Regina Pacis Hub, in Ruhengeri Diocese Rwanda led by Evariste Musirkari, March 10, 2022. Credit: Spiritus Faith Formation program

A Catholic Priest heading a department of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) has lauded the ongoing Spiritus Faith Formation program that has involved religious leaders and Laity in East Africa saying the initiative is expected to “help Christians go deeper in their faith”. 

Sponsored by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and hosted by the Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Uganda, an initiative of the Department of Education at UEC, the Spiritus program has been designed to equip heads of schools, teachers, youth ministers and others working in Catholic church organizations with practical skills in evangelization.

In an interview with ACI Africa Tuesday, March 29, UEC Executive Secretary for Education highlighted the importance of the program that kicked off on March 10 with some 120 participants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda in attendance. 

“The program is of significance because it is about faith formation and evangelization," Fr. Ronald Okello said, and added, "The training is of significance, especially to East Africa. It will help Christians go deeper in their faith.” 

Kampala Hub Kampala Archdiocese Uganda, led by Fr Joseph Ssemanda. Credit: Spiritus Faith Formation program


Participants are expected to “get to understand the challenges that we are facing in terms of faith," the Ugandan Catholic Priest further said, and continued, "We will see how, for example, in schools, we will graduate students who are deeper in faith."

The member of the Clergy of Uganda’s Gulu Archdiocese highlighted some of the challenges of evangelization and faith practice saying, “There are so many denominations and we are seeing many of our youth converting from Catholic church to these Churches.”

“There also seems not to be religious education and on moral aspects. Education seems to be focusing on academics only and that leaves evangelization as a big challenge,” he further said, and added, “People are getting more secular in terms of their thinking, in terms of their behaviors and in terms of social life."

Iringa Hub in Iringa Diocese, Tanzania led by Elice Kangusi. Credit: Spiritus Faith Formation program

The tendency to prioritize entertainment on social media forums constitutes another challenge, Fr. Okello told ACI Africa. He said, “The social life is affected because people are more into smartphones, Tik Tok and with all these disruptors they hardly have time to think about faith and religion."

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The Catholic Priest further said that the suspension of physical gatherings at the height of COVID-19 affected people's faith. 

Amid COVID-19 restrictions that included closure of places of worship, “people went so much into online prayers, Masses and so forth, but this is affecting the community," the Executive Secretary for Education of the UEC told ACI Africa March 29. 

While the online forums were temporary measures at the height of the pandemic, he regretted the fact that "people think it is now easier to attend Holy Mass online, than going to church physically and they end up missing out on the Eucharist; they miss out on the aspect of the collegiality that we get within the church.”

Arusha Hub in Arusha Archdiocese, Tanzania led by Sr Regina Namagheri. Credit: Spiritus Faith Formation program

“It is not just a matter of attending Mass online, but it's about that social touch, being with each other like the early Church," Fr. Okello said, adding that the ongoing faith formation will help participants understand the challenges and how to handle them. 


The program seeks to equip participants with knowledge and skills on Faith Formation Experience and Spiritual Growth, Contemporary methods and expressions, Creating Centres of New Evangelization, among others, he said. 

Credit: Spiritus Faith Formation program

"I believe that this program will have an impact. I hope that at the end of the program we will understand and appreciate the fact that there is need for new evangelization," the UEC official said.

At the end of the virtual faith formation program that is expected to conclude on May 19, the Ugandan Catholic Priest said, “We also hope that the participants will help in the creation of these centres of evangelization." 

In a March 22 press release shared with ACI Africa, the developer of the Spiritus program, Peter Woods, said one of the goals of the Spiritus program was empowering teachers so they could confidently pass the faith on to the next generation.

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Credit: Spiritus Faith Formation program

In a separate interview, a participant of the Spiritus program said the learning experience "has been so good." 

"We have learnt lots of things. This new evangelization is really so key to our Church," said the Youth Coordinator at the Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Uganda, Masiko Beckham.

Mr. Masiko added, "Given the dynamics that are happening, we need it (faith formation) so much." 

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.