The diocese of Eldoret lies in Western Kenya on the frontier with Uganda. Over half a million of the approximately 2.2 million inhabitants of the diocese are Catholics.
Among the biggest problems facing the Church in this region are the lack of religious education among the faithful, the practice of polygamy, and the widespread poverty which also results in the Church having few financial resources. Consequently, the priests face many serious challenges. For the first two of these problems, one of the most important preconditions for tackling them is the solid formation of the priests of the diocese.
At the present time there are 81 young men from the diocese in training for the priesthood. They are studying in various different seminaries within Kenya, since the diocese of Eldoret does not have a seminary of its own. Once again this year it was an occasion of great joy for the diocese when nine of its young men were ordained to the diaconate and another nine to the priesthood. And there continue to be new vocations. At the beginning of the current academic year a further 16 young men began their training for the priesthood.
In addition to studying theology and philosophy, the seminarians also gain practical experience of pastoral work in the parishes. During the three months of the summer holidays they all have placements in the parishes. Here they visit the Catholic faithful in their homes, sharing their joys and sorrows with them and praying together with them. They are also active in youth work, visiting the elderly and sick and often bringing them Holy Communion, listening to them and comforting them. In the same time, in the local churches, they make the necessary preparations for the celebration of Holy Mass. They also provide catechetical instruction and assist the priests by serving at Holy Mass, a practice that helps to awaken in them a still greater love and deeper understanding for the Liturgy.
However, their formation costs money, including teaching materials, study fees, travel costs prayer books and breviaries, soutanes and other suitable clothing, plus of course food, electricity, medical care and many other things besides.
The diocese of Eldoret is a lively one, although materially poor, and consequently ACN is proposing to once again provide financial support for the training of its 81 seminarians – this time with a contribution of 28,350 Euros.