Increasing Number of Major Seminarians in Kenya “a good crisis”: Catholic Archbishop

Some of the Three major Seminaries in Kenya. Credit: Archdiocese of Nairobi

The rise in the number of Major Seminarians in Kenya that has resulted in “a minor crisis” of lack of rooms in the national Diocesan Seminaries presents “a good crisis”, a Catholic Archbishop in Kenya has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Chairman of the Seminary Episcopal Commission (SEC) of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Archbishop Maurice Makumba Muhatia, said some candidates have been asked to wait for a year to begin their formation to the Priesthood.

“This year, we have a minor crisis, because we do not have enough rooms for the admissions. We have a good crisis,” Archbishop Muhatia said during the June 3 interview, on the sidelines of the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop John Mbinda of Lodwar Diocese,

The quality of candidates expressing their desire to become Diocesan Priests in Kenya is good, the Kenyan Archbishop said, adding that many young men who qualified to join universities are “offering themselves to serve God.” 

The leadership of the St. Mary’s Propaedeutic Molo Seminary in the Diocese of Nakuru had to decline some admissions due to lack of space, Archbishop Muhatia told ACI Africa, and added,  “We have around 10 (candidates) on the waiting list; they have to wait for next year. The capacity of Molo (Seminary) is 75 and we have about 90 admitted.”


The Kenyan Archbishop who chairs the KCCB Commission that oversees the running of four national Major Seminaries in Kenya said that Catholic Bishops in the country are exploring ways of addressing the accommodation challenge at St. Mary’s Propaedeutic Seminary.

“At this point, it is no longer the problem of the Commission alone. It is the problem of all and we have to come together to see what to do,” he said, adding that KCCB members hope to have a way forward by August when the academic year in Major Seminaries in Kenya begins. 

In addition to St. Mary’s Propaedeutic Seminary, KCCB owns St. Augustine’s Mabanga Major Seminary in the Diocese of Bungoma, St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, and St. Matthias Mulumba Tindinyo Major Seminary in the Diocese of Eldoret.

Major Seminarians are also admitted at Christ the King Major Seminary of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri.

In the June 3 interview, Archbishop Muhatia encouraged people of goodwill in Kenya to support the formation of Seminarians financially because funds from foreign sources are diminishing. 

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“Previously, the formation of our Clergy used to rely entirely on the Holy Father. The Holy Father would beg and ask volunteers to help us form our Priests,” he said, adding that the “tide is changing” as funds from the Holy Father are decreasing. 

“What happens if the funds completely diminish? We will either send away our seminarians or look for another way of educating them,” he said, and added, “We have to look for local resources because the external resources are diminishing and one day they are going to come to an end.”

The Catholic Archbishop who has been at the helm of Kisumu Archdiocese since March 19 said, “Seminary formation must continue. So, we are appealing to people, the African people, the Kenyan people, the Kenyan Catholics and even non-Catholics who are willing, it is about time we funded our own institutions.”

Catholic Bishops in Kenya established the Seminaries Endowment Funds (SEF) to help raise finances to facilitate the formation of Major Seminarians in the country, he said about the initiative that started off in November 2018, which involves the investment of generated funds that eventually go into running national Major Seminaries in Kenya. 

In establishing SEF, KCCB members saw an appropriate model to finance Major Seminaries because “if the people respond positively, we can create a fund and leave off the profit without touching the principal,” he said.


He explained about the initiative that Fr. Anthony Mwituria oversees, “If we get a lump sum, we invest it and out of what benefits we get from the investment, we use it to run our Seminaries, renovate our Seminaries, build our Seminaries.”

People of goodwill can make annual contributions of any amount to SEF, Archbishop Muhatia said, adding that there is the option of “adopting” a Major Seminarian and contributing to expenses relating to his eight-year formation period. 

He said, “We encourage those who want to support a Seminarian directly to do so. They can choose to educate a Seminarian through the eight years by saying that I'm going to pay for the fee for one Seminarian for the entire eight years, to see the Seminarian from spirituality, to the completion of theology.”

The identity of the person “adopting” a Major Seminarian might be revealed after the candidate is ordained a Priest, the Kenyan Archbishop told ACI Africa, adding that the identity of the sponsor is withheld because “we don’t want you to feel discouraged if the person is discontinued from formation.”  

The 54-year-old Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry in Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese in February 2010 said that while parents can facilitate the formation of their respective sons, the funds should be given to the Local Ordinary, and not directly to the Major Seminary. 

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He said, “It is acceptable for parents to support the education of their children; there is nothing wrong with that. But for purposes of taking care of other little details and logistics, it is better for a parent to do it through the Bishop.”

Parents “must understand that by supporting your child it does not mean they must become a Priest,” Archbishop Muhatia further said, adding that parents can play a role in the discernment of vocations to the Priesthood by forming their children in the Catholic faith. 

He explained, “Parents are the first teachers because the family is the first school. Papa and Mama are the first teachers, they are the first feeders. The mothers literally give them milk. The faith is supposed to be the same.”

“The way the parent feeds the infant on milk when they are tender, likewise parents are supposed to feed their children on their faith,” he emphasized, and added, “Once your child grows up like that in the faith, making their choices about God becomes easy.”

“A parent removes very many obstacles in the way of a child if they bring them up well in the faith. If values are inculcated in a child when they are still young, choosing to serve God becomes almost automatic,” Archbishop Muhatia said during the June 3 interview with ACI Africa.

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.