By Mike Ssegawa
December 24 finds many people running up and down, with either shopping or traveling. I am not counting my eggs before they hatch, but in a long time, this should be my best Christmas. Thank Allah.
Saturday early afternoon therefore found me having a walk with my two year old son around Mukono town. He loves counting cars (and claiming he owns them!!)
As we left Satellite Beach shopping mall, a busy entertainment spot in Mukono town, where I had gone to do some work in an internet cafe (yes, internet cafes are still existing and still making money going by the number of people I met there), I met a Catholic priest. A youthful priest. I knew him back in the days as an altar boy and he was such a wonderful and loved altar boy in our parish.
Many years later, he’s now a priest and a trainer for young seminarians. I am making efforts not to mention names.
In our conversation, we agreed on a number of things including the most important duty of any teacher, especially a trainer for future priests.
One point that came out strongly is that inspite the fact that seminaries are schools for future priests,focusing on training good human beings and responsible citizens, was paramount, and not just focus on forming religious people. Truth be told, on average, less than 10 priests will come out for every group of 100 that joins a junior or minor seminary. So, it’s important to think of the 90’s future, much as the focus of the formation team is to identify the 10.
Of course religion and religions teach principles of a good life and maturity in personal and interpersonal relations. This has been the case for millennia. Many former seminarians have come out to be good people. Equally several have failed to fit in. This is where the problem is.
But we have come to see reckless priests and other religious people, and one wonders how they managed to go through the grueling scrutiny of seminaries.
This year was especially exceptional for the church. We saw rebel priests taking on their bishops in Kampala and Arua. The rebelliousness of priests is across the world for various reasons.
It’s not by any chance that some people have suppressed their traits to cross the finish line and their true selves came out after ordination. But this kind of person never got formed. He lived a lie for a given purpose. When things go wrong after ordination, It’s almost a point of no return.
As we witness rebellious priests in every corner of the globe, you can blame the bishops. Yes, bishops are not angels. They’re also not infallible. However, in priesthood, the most important virtue is obedience.
Unfortunately, many people focus on the other virtues of celibacy and poverty. An obedient priest to his bishop, will automatically be obedience to God.
I also agreed with this Catholic priest friend of mine, a very good preacher by the way, that Obedience and not sacrifice, that God loves in each one of us.
As we finish the year, my heart and mind are with the Catholic church with so much challenge from men of the cloth turning ministry personal.
I disagree in the name and shame approach used by bishops to check the growing influence of the rebellious clergy. Bishops should always remain pastors and fathers to their priests.
However, priests should know the church needs them under their bishops. And like prophet told King Saul, God doesn’t want sacrifice but his obedience. As the year ends, we pray for healing and forgiveness to take place in our church. Those are basic gifts every Christian should pray for before we see riots in our church.