Advertisement

Priest in Lesotho Addresses Misconceptions about Clergy, Religious Who Further Studies

Fr. Dr. Benedict Mosiuoa Makhata, a specialist in Trauma counselling in Lesotho. Credit: Sisters of Calvary- Botswana/ Facebook

Catholic Priests and women and men Religious who go back to class to further their studies in various fields are often misunderstood by members of their respective communities, a Catholic Priest in Lesotho who was recently awarded a doctorate has said.

In an interview with Radio Vaticana, Fr. Dr. Benedict Mosiuoa Makhata said that some of those who choose to advance their studies receive little support from their communities.

Sometimes, these Priests are accused of trying to leave Priesthood when they express the desire to go back to school, Fr. Benedict said in the interview report published Sunday, October 3, and added that it is important for the Clergy and women and men Religious to further their studies in various fields.

Sharing his own experience while pursuing his doctoral studies, Fr. Benedict said, “It was really challenging for me when I started my PhD. I wasn’t really supported much.”

“I have learnt that in Religious Life, there are some people who are comfortable where they are and they sometimes find it difficult to understand the motive behind one’s decision to advance their studies. Some would feel that I am studying because I wanted to leave the Priesthood. These challenges were heavy on me because I wasn’t able to get much support from my own brothers and confrères,” the Mosotho Priest narrated.

Advertisement

He said that the challenges, though heavy, were his inspiration to work even harder.

Radio Vaticana reports that the Stigmatine Priest specializing in Trauma Counselling has obtained his PhD on the research titled, “Migrant Basotho women in domestic services in South Africa: A pastoral Challenge.”

Underscoring the importance of members of the Clergy and women and men furthering studies, Fr. Benedict says, “Education is essential. It is important. It is a need of the Church for us as Religious to study. Looking at the signs of time, many people are educated in the Church.”

According to the Stigmatine Priest, the Church needs people who have specialized in various fields in order to participate in problem solving projects of the society.

He said that furthering studies is good for personal growth in faith among members of the Clergy and women and men Religious as well as in meeting the needs of their respective Dioceses and Religious Orders. 

More in Africa

“I feel that many of us are too comfortable in our Religious communities and in our Dioceses. I encourage the young Religious to study because when we study, we will help the Church in many ways. We will also avoid many things that lead us astray,” Fr. Benedict said.

According to the Religious scholar, Priests “have a lot of energy,” which can be detrimental if not put to good use.

“In my experience as a Priest, I have learnt that we have a lot of energy to do anything but we sometimes find ourselves loitering and being involved in other things that are not good for the Church,” he observed. 

He added, “If the Church itself can encourage young Religious brothers and Sisters to further their studies and also to participate in intellectual academia, it will be very good because then the Church will be able to send us anywhere there is a need.”

The Priest said that he has specialization in trauma, which he said affects people physically, psychologically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

Advertisement

He said that many people across Africa have manifested trauma especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In this time of COVID-19, many people are traumatized and they need us as pastors to journey with them and to enter into spaces of the people who are suffering,” he said, and underlined the need for the Religious people in Africa to ensure that they are fully armed with knowledge when they go out to serve the people.

“There is need for the Religious to be competent even as they seek to strengthen the faith of the people,” Fr. Benedict said, noting that the people today are knowledgeable about issues affecting society and sometimes do their own research ahead on matters of the Church.  

His intention, he said, is to bring awareness to the Church especially to the Clergy and women and men Religious that they need to be involved in contemporary issues so that the Church in Africa can be trusted handling the issues affecting the society.

In Lesotho, the Priest who is a lecturer has started a Consultancy under the Stigmatine Social Welfare where he takes people with various traumatic experiences through counselling.

(Story continues below)

His varied responsibilities, he says, inspire young people in formation to understand that a Priest can also be a lecturer and a professional counsellor.

“Young Religious in Africa are motivated that they can still reach their ambition. That even though they are called to be Priests, they can still excel in other ministries that support the Church,” he says.

The widely published Priest says that he hopes to write more on practical theology “that will bring theology into practice.”

Meanwhile, Fr. Benedict has urged Priests and those Religious Life who have gone through traumatic experiences in their communities to seek consolation and strength from Jesus who he describes as “the wounded healer.”

“I encourage my brothers and sisters in Congregations who feel that they don’t belong to those Congregations, those who have been traumatized spiritually, psychologically or even physically to understand that sometimes experience is the best teacher; that sometimes, we have to look at Jesus who is the model of our lives, the wounded healer, the one who understands the meaning of wounds,” the Priest says.

Sharing his past experience, Fr. Benedict adds, “I was traumatized before but I learnt to take the trauma positively.”