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Catholic Pontifical Organization Donates Towards Islamic Studies in West Africa

Students at the Institute for Islamic-Christian Formation (IFIC) in Bamako, Mali

The Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has donated money towards the facilitation of Islamic studies for Priests and seminarians in West Africa. 

In a Monday, March 29 report, ACN officials indicate that they have set aside a grant for the Institute for Islamic-Christian Formation (IFIC) in Bamako, Mali, and another amount for St. Augustine’s Major Seminary Jos within the Archdiocese of Jos in Nigeria.

The grant to be received by the leadership of IFIC, an initiative of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (MAfr.), also known as White Fathers, is for the construction of an accommodation facility for students and lecturers in the school.   

According to the March 29 report, the Bamako-based Institute of Interreligious studies that hosts about 150 students, half of them Priests from different West African countries, has “very limited space to accommodate them all.” 

“A lecture hall with an attached accommodation block for the students and professors would be a real boost for the IFIC’s work promoting peace, and would give new impetus to the ongoing dialogue,” say the ACN officials in the March 29 report. 

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They add that while the leadership of IFIC has acquired the land to establish the complex, it does not have the resources to start the construction. 

The other grant is to help in stocking the library of the Archdiocese of Jos-based St. Augustine’s Major Seminary with literature on Islamic studies.

In the March 29 report, ACN officials say, “The students in Jos particularly need to familiarise themselves with all aspects of Islam.”

“All this will help their ministry when they are Priests and pastors proclaiming the truth,” say the ACN officials.  

They add that the books about faith help in keeping the 342 seminarians in the seminary firmly grounded in the truth. 

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“Knowledge is also a source of strength, so the seminary library is a kind of ‘spiritual gym’,” the ACN officials say, adding that for the library to remain so, it needs to be “constantly renewed and updated” with books. 

“Among the most recent examples of this renewal are noted classics of the interior life, testimonies of modern saints like Mother Teresa and Pope Saint John Paul II, books on the Theology of the Body and also and increasingly, works on comparative religious studies and topics such as ‘Culture and Inculturation’.” 

However, the ACN officials note that with the large number of seminarians, there is a huge demand for books “and 10 copies are needed at a time.” 

“Even with heavy discounting, this still adds up to a very considerable financial outlay,” say the ACN officials.

“Knowledge helps lay the foundations of peace – both temporal and spiritual –,” the ACN officials say and add in reference to Pope Francis Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, “A renewal of preaching can offer believers… new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the work of evangelization.”

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