The challenges of cost sharing in formation of Diocesan Priests: A case study in the Diocese of Arua today
Angualia, James Pariyo
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The study was to investigate the challenges of cost sharing in the formation of local clergy in the diocese of Arua today. The study was guided by the following objectives: i. To find the nature and amounts of contributions of various individuals, institutions and groups for the formation of seminarians to priesthood. ii. To find out the perception of seminarians on the policy of cost sharing. iii. To establish the effects of the policy on cost sharing in formation to priesthood In a nutshell the study focused on self reliance in the Church in relationship to the formation of future pastors in the Church. Critical case sampling technique was used because of the study being peculiar and this could not permit us to generalize our findings although similar cases may occur elsewhere in other dioceses where cost sharing is also applicable. Data was collected using interviews designed for priests, seminarians and lay Catholics. Observation and documentary sources were also used in the study. The priests and major seminarians formed the basic respondents in the study. The following were the findings of the study: 1. The priests, seminarians and lay Catholics were aware of the introduction of cost sharing in seminaries as a means to supplement to what Propaganda Fide - Rome usually gives as grants to the seminaries. 2. The seminarians and their parents are unable to meet the formation costs wholly hence they need support from Christian communities or individuals of good will. 3. Formation in Church is a collective responsibility of every Christian and Christian community if vocations are to be promoted in the local Churches. The study therefore revealed that cost sharing in the Church’s institution came as a means towards self-reliance, self propagating and self ministering strategy because the Church in Africa is now able to support itself. Donations to the Church institutions from abroad are dwindling every time especially for those missions in Africa and redirected to those with urgent needs in other parts of the world. A call for cost sharing or self support in the Church has a basis and foundation in the New Testament. Jesus Christ as he prepared for His preaching of the God News about the Kingdom of God together with His twelve Disciples was accompanied by some women like Mary Magdalene, Joana, Susana and many others who used their own resources to help Jesus and His Disciples(Luke 8: 1-3, Mathew 27: 55-56, Mark 15: 40-41). In Acts of the Apostles ( 2: 45-47, 4: 32-35) all the believers continued in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them …similarly the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16: 1-4) urged them to raise money to help God’s Ministers in Judea. Paul said “Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money in proportion to what you have earned and save it up for the mission” It is therefore a signal for those concerned with formation of priests and the religious to take the issue of self reliance seriously in order to avert this crucial situation in the formation sector where the harvest is still rich and the laborers are few. Hence the Ugandan Episcopal Conference had to find an alternative to this phenomenon by charging each individual diocese with Ugandan shillings 150,000/= per student and per semester in the Major seminaries. This amount which every seminarian is to pay has become a challenge for some dioceses that can not afford to pay for their students. Arua diocese in particular faces this challenge due to the big number of seminarians in the formation compare to other dioceses. Many young men who had joined the seminary have left because they lack sponsorship since the introduction of cost sharing. In the view of the respondents this escalating situation needs a collective responsibility of the faithful in the diocese. As a way forward, more sensitization and mobilization of funds is encouraged by all the stake holders in the formation including the pastoral agents. Secondly, there should be openness and sincerity in handling funds meant for seminarians and a periodic report given to those who contribute in order to motivate them to support more. In our conclusion, it is the responsibility of the ordinary in the diocese(s) to see that the formation of future ministers of the Church as priority among other needs in the diocese and to find possible solutions and appropriate means to implement the policy of cost sharing in the diocese.