This week: Uganda
Success Story: Mass Offerings for the priests teaching at the seminary in Ggaba
The tradition of making a Mass offering for the celebration of Holy Mass by a priest for a particular intention – for the soul of a departed person, for example – is an ancient one in the Church. The offering that is made by the individual believer to the priest for this purpose is in no sense a “payment” for a Mass, but rather a gesture of love and gratitude for the priest who through the words of consecration makes present the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the altar. At the same time, this gift is a form of material support for needy priests, who in many cases have no other source of income.
Those priests who teach in the seminaries of the Catholic Church are particularly grateful for these Mass offerings, since in many countries they do not even earn enough to support themselves and, unlike priests teaching in the parishes, do not have the community of the Catholic faithful to support them either. In Uganda, for example, whereas a university professor at a secular university will earn approximately 1,500 dollars a month, a priest lecturing in a seminary will receive just 150 dollars – barely enough to cover the most basic essentials.
A duty to support and guide
These priests, who are responsible for the formation of our future priests, have a heavy responsibility. Their work demands great care and a commitment that goes well beyond the mere conveying of knowledge. In addition to providing an academic formation they also have a duty to support and guide the seminarians in their human and spiritual formation. Therefore helping out in a parish where the faithful can help support them, in however modest a manner – is more often than not impossible. As a result, these priests engaged in the formation of the priests of the future are often heavily dependent on the Mass offerings received from abroad.
In Uganda the number of vocations continues to rise, and many of the seminaries are bursting at the seams. At the Saint Mary’s National Seminary in Ggaba, in the Archdiocese of Kampala, there are 16 priests engaged in teaching and ministering to the seminarians. We are helping them once again this year with Mass offerings – this time with a total of $28,500 – which means that each individual priest will receive $1,780 for the entire year.