Just over 60 young men are currently undergoing formation in the propaedeutic Abbot Kaumo seminary of Kasongo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They gather there to pray, attend classes, cook, work in the seminary’s vegetable garden and practice sports. The seminary has great economic needs, which affect the formation they receive. International foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) received some testimonies from both seminarians and teachers, describing the conditions in which they live, the challenges they face, and the relief they get from the assistance provided by ACN.
“Since I arrived at the seminary, we have been given a good formation by our teachers. We are taught by priests and some competent laypeople. Now the house has electricity, which allows us to study better, including at night”, says Katamea Maybu Fidèle, who is in the first year of the propaedeutic phase of the seminary, in a handwritten letter to ACN, thanking its benefactors for the aid provided to the seminary.
Due to the precarious living conditions, seminarians often fall ill. “Lack of water is the main reason people get sick in our community”, says Zéphyrin Mukamba Mukelo, a second-year student. “We only have five tanks in our house to collect rain water. When it rains, we have to use that same water for all our needs. This causes typhoid, diarrhoea and many other illnesses that the seminary has to cope with”, Zéphyrin adds.
The poor living conditions affect daily life and the seminarians’ studies. They need more resources to be able to have a better formation. “We have a poor library, which is missing many things and only has old books”, says Katamea Maybu Fidèle.
It is not only the seminarians who are concerned, so are their teachers. “We have a problem here which affects almost all the students, which is the low academic standard. To be able to overcome this difficulty we need many resources and materials to ensure ongoing formation. However, the resources that we do have are still insufficient”, says Fr Vincent-Vercus Mateso, the vice-rector, who is in charge of academic matters and is also the seminary bursar.
“This is why we say that your financial and material assistance is much needed at this seminary, so that we can better prepare the future priests”, Fr Mateso adds.
“I feel obliged to thank all those who have shown themselves concerned with the improvement of our formation, and who have supported us so that we can carry on with this heavenly task. We express our thanks, and we have you in our prayers”, says Zéphyrin.
Financial and material aid such as that offered by ACN frees the teachers at the seminary from economic concerns, and leaves them more available to focus on the spiritual development of the seminarians, much to their relief.
ACN helps the 61 seminarians of Abbot Kaumo with scholarships and supports five of the staff with Mass stipends.