At the Monsignor Cleire Seminary in Kasongo, Democratic Republic of Congo, the timetable is rigorous, they even work a full day on Saturdays.

But they do so willingly, as the 29 seminarians here have been called to spread God’s love. But that is not a reason for pride. And the rector and spiritual director keep watch to ensure that the love for Christ is filled with understanding and humility. In this way the seminarians are being trained to spread God’s love. Their syllabus is onerus and includes psychology, ethics and moral theology.

They are expected to acquire a good knowledge of African and classical philosophy, languages, methods of communication and pedagogy as well as a basic grounding in Islam, comparative cultural analyses, sociology and media studies. Their days may be full – but first place is always given to adoration and their relationship to God, the Source of all love. And as for practical brotherly love, each one has his own duties within the community. Vincent Mateso and Michel Mulamba look after the garden. Theophile Mukaseba and André Kabobo are responsible for the electricity and water supply.

Other responsibilities include sport, the library, clean sanitary facilities, music and singing, the organisation of the work in the fields and the fish farm, liturgy and the sacristy, hair cutting and reception. Good shepherds need good training in every field. In the seminary in Kasongo they get just that – thanks in no small part to you.

God calls men to spread His love regardless of their age. God calls whoever He wills whenever He wills. In the Greek Catholic seminary of Oradea in Romania among the students are a number of late vocations, including a psychologist, a musician and an economist.

Many already have ‘a whole life behind them’, as the rector Anton Cioba writes. But they have all come ‘to God’s school in order to become his disciples’. They are all highly motivated and preparing themselves ‘humbly and diligently for the priesthood’. In all there are 104 men here who have ‘said yes to God’.

They will help confront the ‘acute and growing secularisation in our society’, and so they will need plenty of knowledge, faith and hope. Perhaps these mature men, with years of experience behind them, will particularly be able to find new approaches to their pastoral and missionary work. Knowledge, training and the spiritual formation of the heart are things that Father Anton and his fellow academics can certainly empart. But the cost of training so many students soon leaves them financially empty-handed. We have promised him our help for the current academic year.

Education is expensive, but it is an investment that repays its expense. In the major seminary in Haiti there are no fewer than 282 seminarians who will later be called to preach and live love in this, one of the poorest countries in the world. In Hyderabad, in India, where the training of priests lasts a total of 13 years altogether, you are supporting 106 seminarians, while in the Central African Republic – where the recent civil war left deep wounds and saw churches and convents destroyed – we have promised our support so that the Saint Mark’s seminary in Bangui can make a new start.

There is nothing this country needs more than true shepherds who can preach forgiveness and live Christian charity. In showing mercy and helping here, and elsewhere where these future pastors are being trained, you too will help to spread God’s love.

This article can be found in Mirror 0515.