The diocese of Nebbi is situated in northwest Uganda. For 30 years the north of the country was plagued by armed conflict and terrorism. And though the situation has been more stable for almost 10 years now, the deep wounds of that time are still evident today - a time of armed attacks, burnings, abductions, rape and murder - including in the diocese of Nebbi. Entire villages were destroyed, schools and health centres burnt down. There is widespread poverty here today. Most families can only afford one meal a day; for the rest of the day they must go hungry. The average family income is not even $14 a month.
(Seminarians attending Mass in the chapel of a seminary in Uganda © Aid to the Church in Need)
The Catholic Church is doing everything possible to help the people. The diocese of Nebbi has 17 parishes, with 570 outstations - vast parishes spread over wide areas. There are just 57 priests to minister to the Catholic faithful; so many more are needed. For the bishop of the diocese the training of his seminarians is a top priority. Currently there are 46 young men from the diocese of Nebbi studying for the priesthood. As the diocese has no seminary of its own the seminarians are scattered across the other seminaries in the country, with the diocese paying for the cost of their formation. Clearly, in most cases the parents cannot afford to contribute anything towards the cost, and in many cases the seminarians have lost one or even both of their parents. Most are from large families and many also have to work in the holidays in order to support their younger siblings. In other cases these young men have faced fierce opposition and rejection in their desire to train for the priesthood.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been regularly helping the diocese. Bishop Wanok Sanctus Lino writes, "Without your help it would be difficult for us to have priestly ordinations each year."
This year ACN plans to help again with a grant of $34,000 to support the training of these 46 young men.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929