As the Pope’s official charity for World Mission, Missio is unique in its commitment to supporting each and every seminary in the missionary world; a challenge set by Pope Pius XI in 1922 and still embraced by Missio today. We also have a special relationship with seminaries in India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Sri Lanka. This message comes from Fr Albert, Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary in Nigeria:

Our seminary has two departments: the Philosophy Department and the Theology Department. These departments follow academic programmes approved by Rome, to ensure the academic formation of the seminarians.

Meanwhile we have other pastoral, human, and spiritual programmes to help with the students’ formation. These include a formation weekend, various workshops, seminars, spiritual conferences, retreats, cultural and musical events, as well as inauguration and convocation ceremonies.

In the current academic year, the total number of seminarians in the seminary is 780: 378 are in the Philosophy Department and 402 are in the Theology Department (the last four years of study before ordination).

The challenges in Nigeria

2023 was a very difficult year for the country in general, and Bigard was not exempt from these challenges.

The year started with financial crisis with the cost of goods, services and other essential commodities such as the diesel which powers our generators rising sharply.

The 2023 general election saw cases of violence, kidnappings, and destruction of lives and property before, during, and after the polls. The unstable political atmosphere in the country continued after the election, and we have also had to add more security measures at the Seminary, as the security situation across the country has deteriorated.

Nigeria continues to face infrastructural challenges across various sectors like transport, water and power supply, and healthcare. These challenges Nigeria faces as a whole continue to affect life and activities in the seminary. Nevertheless, the seminary remains committed in its responsibility of training seminarians under such conditions.

Consequently, the seminary goes the extra mile to provide these services for our seminarians.

We rejoiced in 2023

Despite the hardships, we remain joyful and glad that the Good Lord has continued to be with us and sustain us in the face of these trying times. Indeed, we can heartily say, ‘the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold’ (Psalm 46). We also appreciate the impact of the support from the friends of the Seminary, such as Missio. These go a long way in helping the seminary fulfil its obligations to the seminarians.

With great joy, we announce that the seminary had 56 seminarians ordained Deacons and 89 ordained Priests last year. These came from 17 different dioceses.

A promising 2024

We are looking towards 2024 with optimism; partly because this year, we will joyfully celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the seminary’s establishment (1924-2024).

Another reason is that, despite all the challenges faced in 2023, the Church in Nigeria has continued to grow in leaps and bounds. People continue to identify with the Church, and to attend Masses and other religious programmes. Thirdly, many young people continue to embrace the call to the Priestly and Religious vocations.

We sincerely hope that in the year 2024 and beyond, these positive growths will continue to flourish and that the security situation in the country will improve and thus bring an end to violence and insecurity.

We use this opportunity to thank our benefactors and friends for your support through the years. We ask for your continued support, in order to provide basic amenities needed for the smooth running of the seminary.

It is our hope that improvements in the areas mentioned above will translate into better days for the people and the seminary community.

Fr Albert, Rector

Message from a student: 

I am a seminarian in the third year of my theological studies here at Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu. I am happy to share the impact of the support I receive from Missio’s sponsorship programme.

I remain grateful to you for the incredible support and generosity you have extended through this programme. Financially, your sponsorship has provided essential resources that have helped me and my fellow students to meet our daily needs and provide basic commodities.

Knowing that a sponsor is praying for me is a source of immeasurable strength and comfort. Your prayers have been a guiding light, offering encouragement in trying times and inspiring hope for a better tomorrow. Indeed, the sense of connection and support your prayers give me is truly a blessing beyond words.

I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4 :19: ‘And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in Christ Jesus.’

Yes, your generosity reflects God’s provision in my life and that of my fellow seminarians, not just materially but spiritually. Even beyond that, your generosity has not only transformed my life but has reaffirmed my faith in humanity’s capacity, influenced by Gospel values for kindness and compassion. Thus, I am also motivated, following Christ’s injunction in Luke 10:37, to ‘go and do likewise.’

Brother Cyprian