The landlocked state of Zambia in southern Africa is one of the more stable countries on the continent. Christians make up the overwhelming majority (90%) of its population of around 17 million people. However, only around one fifth of the population are Catholics, the majority belonging to a range of different Protestant communities.
The Catholic Church here is facing major challenges. In the past the life of the Church was steered above all by foreign missionaries, who were able to obtain support from their home countries, but today it is the native African bishops and priests who are increasingly shouldering the responsibility. In many places the infrastructure is poor, the parishes cover vast areas and the Catholic faithful often live widely scattered, so that many more priests are needed in order to minister to them all. At the same time the sects are very active in proselytising, drawing away many of the faithful with their easy promises and simplistic messages of salvation. They promise people health, wealth and material success and so manage to entice many people, including Catholics. They are successful above all where, owing to the lack of financial means and the vast distances, the pastoral outreach of the Church is not sufficiently intensive to make people feel truly rooted and at home in the Church.
What the Church in Zambia needs above all, therefore, is more priests. But in order to train these priests, the appropriate infrastructure and facilities have to be present. In the Saint Augustine‘s seminary in Kabwe there are almost 90 young men training for the priesthood. But the seminary building, which dates back to the 1950s, had for some years now been in urgent need of renovation. There were cracks in the walls, falling ceiling tiles and roof panels, a hopelessly outdated plumbing system… All these things were making life here difficult and in some cases even dangerous. Above all the toilet and sanitary facilities needed urgent repair and renovation. Thanks to the help of our generous benefactors, ACN was able to contribute 14,900 Euros, thereby enabling the bathroom facilities to be properly refurbished and the rusting pipework replaced. The seminarians are delighted with the results and send their heartfelt thanks to all who have helped.