, 11 February, 2020 / 4:52 PM
In a bid to guarantee continuity in the priestly ministry of the Church in Kenya’s Diocese of Murang’a (CDM), financial assistance is being sought from Christians and well-wishers to facilitate the training and formation of seminarians, the Vocations Director of the diocese has told ACI Africa and explained the reasons behind the initiative.
One of the reasons the Kenyan diocese is seeking the support of Christians and well-wishers to fund the formation of seminarians, Fr. Samuel Murichu said, is due to an increase in the number of priestly vocations over the years, which has made it difficult for the diocese to meet the costs through ordinary subsidies.
“The vocation’s office under the Bishop has been having a strain in managing the increment of seminarians for a number of years. The number is going up and up each and every day,” Fr. Murichu who doubles as the youth Director of Murang’a diocese told ACI Africa Sunday, February 9 on the sidelines of the Eucharistic celebration organized for CDM members in Nairobi and its environs who support the training and formation of seminarians from their native diocese.
The diocese had a total of 30 candidates in the Kenya-based Major Seminaries in 2010, Fr. Murichu recalled and revealed that the number has now doubled, with 60 seminarians spread out in various years of their formation – 13 in Spirituality studies, 23 in Philosophy, 23 in Theology and one in his Pastoral year of experience.
Referencing applications received for consideration in August 2020 intake, the Murang’a cleric told ACI Africa, “This year we have 21 candidates who have applied, but critically after scrutiny, I might be left with 15, which is the highest number for a number of years to be admitted to the seminary.”
The Vocations Director attributes the increase in the number of vocations to the priesthood to a mobilization campaign spearheaded by the Local Ordinary, Bishop James Maria Wainaina.
Since 2010 when Bishop Wainaina “started the youth apostolate, even campaigning wherever he goes for Family Days and stressing on the need for more priests,” Fr. Murichu recalls, the response has been significant.
“Also last year (2019) we had the year of the youth and there was a lot of campaign on vocations promotion,” Fr. Murichu shared with ACI Africa.
With a total of 60 seminarians, Murang’a diocese ranks third nationally after Eldoret Diocese with 77 seminarians and the Diocese of Machakos with 72 candidates in the various Major Seminaries in Kenya.
According to Fr. Murichu, facilitating the formation of seminarians has been a challenge for the diocese “because educating one seminarian per year is around KSH.70,000 (USD700.00) and seminarians take a minimum of eight years in formation. Others can take nine years.”
It is because of this increase in vocations to the priesthood over the years that the diocese is reaching out to Christians and well-wishers for help, Fr. Murichu reiterated.
Reduced funding from the Holy See in Rome is another reason the diocese is reaching out for financial aid locally, the Kenyan cleric said referencing subsidies from the Vatican-based Congregation for the Propagation of Faith (Propaganda Fide).
“Bearing in mind nowadays we do not have subsidy from Rome to assist the seminarians, the Diocese is trying to source funds from Christians, well-wishers to take up the responsibility,” the Vocations and Youth Director told ACI Africa on the sidelines of the Sunday event held at Elysian Resort in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, recounting his life in the Major Seminary, seminarian Benson Kiumu told ACI Africa, “The sole benefactor of the seminarian is the diocese, which takes upon itself the responsibility to cater for the tuition and sustainability of the seminarian both at the seminary and also at home.”
Among the people who have heeded to the diocese’s call for support are Christians from the diocese residing in the capital city, Nairobi and its environs, also known by the name “Nairobi Chapter.”
According to the group’s Chairperson Arthur Chege, with an estimated 300 active members, the group supports various projects of their native diocese of Murang’a, key among them the Seminarian’s Support Programme (SSP) where members voluntarily contribute any amount towards the training and formation of seminarians.
Murang’a diocese Finance Administrator, Fr. Elias Kabutu told ACI Africa that since the inception of SSP in November 2019, about 30 Nairobi Chapter members have submitted their respective contributions estimated at a total of KSH.261,000 (USD2,610.00) toward seminarians’ formation.
“We are lucky some of the Christians have turned up very well and started supporting seminarians and the Nairobi Chapter have pledged to continue supporting,” Fr. Murichu said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa