The role of the laity in the formation of priests in Ibanda Parish – Mbarara Archdiocese in light of Pastores Dabo Vobis of Pope John Paul II.
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The formation of future priests is a vocation and responsibility of the laity according to John Paul II (PDV, no. 41). Since the laity are part of the Christian community, the duty of fostering vocations rests upon them in a special way, (OT, no. 2). In light of the above, the laity of Ibanda Parish understand how valuable priests are. But some have not responded well towards this formation since many seem not to be aware of that role, vocation and duty. That is why the researcher was prompted to establish their role, attitude and extent to which they are aware and willing to embrace participation in the formation of priests. The study was guided by the general objective: To establish the role of the laity in promoting Priestly vocations in Ibanda Parish, Mbarara Archdiocese. The study was undertaken therefore, in order to create awareness about priestly formation, to empower and help the laity in Ibanda Parish appreciate this role and act more positively in fostering vocations for the good of the Church. A variety of literature has been consulted and considered for this study. In a special way, the Church (Magisterial teachings) and other individual writers as well indicated in chapter 2 regarding the topic were very helpful. Consulted literature agrees that among the lay faithful and in particular catechists, teachers, educators, parents, movements and associations of the lay faithful have an importance in the growth and promotion of vocations (PDV, nos. 3, 41& 68). To obtain views from the field of study on the topic, two research instruments were employed and these are the questionnaire and oral interviews. They aided the researcher to obtain significant views and answers to the research questions. The researcher majorly found out that: many of the laity are not aware of what priestly formation is and their role as regards priestly formation. And hence their attitude towards priestly formation has become generally poor but the will to support those training priests is there. 70 % of the respondents were positive to the fact of being supportive towards the formation of priests though needing empowerment. 30% were aware and they have been supportive. Basing on the above major findings, the researcher called upon the priests, diocesan authorities, and the candidates to the priesthood themselves to do whatever that is in their means to empower the laity to support priestly formation since they have the Will. The study concluded that lay people want not only priests, but priests who are committed to their formation so that they, the laity, could be suitably helped to fulfill their role in the ecclesial mission of forming priests for the Church. Secondly, the study concluded that the major role of the laity in supporting priestly vocations is integral in nature. This role involves material (financial), spiritual (prayer), moral. In order to do this effectively, the laity need the support of priests, Diocesan authorities and candidates to the priesthood themselves through laity Associations, workshops, and seminars.