St. Paul was also a seminarian once. After his conversion, the future prince of apostles also had to spend some time studying and praying in the desert (cf. Galatians 1:17) before he began his missionary preaching.

Prayer and study are the fundamental duties of the seminarian. He therefore needs an appropriate environment (for St. Paul it was the solitude of the desert) and the appropriate aids.

The Missionaries of the Most Holy Hearts of Mary and Jesus spend considerable time during their six-year formation learning about other cultures and ways of life. Their congregation originated in Spain and is present today in Africa and Latin America.

A major part of their formation focuses on intercultural understanding, empathy and openness to other customs and cultures, while at the same time they strive for a deep rootedness in their relationship with Christ and a solid formation of personality.

In the seminary chapel in Yaoundé, Cameroon the seminarians of the congregation pray four times a day, and they also study seven hours a day. On top of this there are times for sport, garden work, eating together, etc. Central to everything, however, is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The rising bell is set for 5 a.m. and from 10 p.m. onwards silence is observed.

Currently, most of the congregation’s vocations come from Africa, which is why the novitiate is situated in Butare, Rwanda and the main seminary in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where 23 young men currently pray and study. Later they will take the Gospel message out across their continent, and perhaps revive awareness of it in Europe too.

The congregation, with its 130 members, is still relatively small and until recently had always managed to cover its own costs. But now, with the growing numbers of vocations in Africa, combined with the consequences of the economic crisis in their mother country Spain and the associated general fall in donations and income, the community is struggling to make ends meet.

They have asked our help for the training of the 23 seminarians in Yaoundé, and we have agreed. Who knows, maybe there is a future St. Paul among them? At any rate, it is a sound investment in the future.

This article can be found in Mirror 0117.