Missio England and Wales has a long-standing relationship with five seminaries in five countries. These five seminaries – in India, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Sri Lanka – offer the opportunity to sponsor students studying for the priesthood.
Fr Mareddy, Rector of St John’s Regional Seminary in Hyderabad, India, shared their latest news with us:
COVID-19 spread fast among the people and resulted in a health crisis everywhere. With hospitals full, healthcare workers overburdened, huge expenses and social restrictions, people avoided going to hospitals for tests and treatment due to fear of being infected. People felt helpless.
The pandemic also created a social crisis. The schools, colleges, shops, hotels, and business establishments were closed down. As the lockdown was declared suddenly, with strict implementation, many people were without work, some without food. As there was no surety over the lockdown it caused lot of frustration and depression among children, youth and old as they were isolated for their safety.
Adapting to life in the pandemic
The crisis forced everyone to use technology: online classes, online conferences and working from home have become a part of life. However, there are also difficulties with long online classes and activities causing a lot of stress for students and teachers. Poor connectivity, especially in village areas and remote regions affected the quality of education of those living there.
The Churches were closed, homes became churches. Families spent more time praying together. The Church invited the faithful to find courage and hope with firm trust in God and to also help others who are in need, expressing solidarity with others.
The Church used technology in many parishes and centres offering online worship, prayer, Masses, and adoration. This gave great help to people, especially those isolated at home. Faith has given people lot of strength, courage and hope as they were driven to despair and depression.
Challenges for Seminarians
The seminary has experienced difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The seminarians were having examinations in March when the government suddenly imposed lockdown. No one was allowed to go out of their places; all educational institutions and hostels were closed down. Being in lockdown everywhere, getting essential commodities became difficult. There was fear everywhere.
The government issued passes for students to return to their homes, however coming back became difficult. We moved to online classes, conferences, and exams. It was a difficult time for formation of seminarians. It was really challenging as brothers needed to get smart phones with internet facility to attend online classes. Most of them were staying at their homes in rural areas, making this difficult.
Some rays of hope
The government issued COVID-19-19 relaxation rules allowing 15 members for any religious gathering using masks and maintaining physical distance in the month of June. During this time, 16 Deacons were ordained priests in their respective Dioceses. Only family members were allowed to attend.
As Government restrictions are being lifted, we have also started calling back the seminarians in a phased manner and hope that the pandemic ends with the intercession of our Mother Mary. We hope that human society will be able to learn constructive lessons from the pandemic to build up fraternity, solidarity, justice and love.
Assuring you of my prayers for God’s abundant blessings for you and all the collaborators for all the kind services to our seminary in the formation of priests.
How you can help
When you sponsor a seminarian, you are building the church of tomorrow, today. You can sponsor a seminarian individually, or as a family, a community or a parish project.