Without priests no sacraments, without sacraments no Church… But there is another preliminary step to this simple logic: Without seminarians, no priests. And therein lies the future of the Church.

Yes, our support for seminarians is about nothing less than the future of the Church. The country in Latin America where we support the most priests is Peru. This is a still developing country, with modest growth in the cities, despite the suburban slums on the outskirts.

In the countryside however, and above all in the Andes, the mainly indigenous Aymara people still live almost everywhere in poverty. Nevertheless, there are many vocations among them, a real treasure for the Church.

In the seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the Altiplano, or high plateau, of Chucuito Province there are 48 seminarians currently training for the priesthood. This preparation includes not only the study of theology and philosophy, for at weekends they also go out into the villages, giving religious instruction, visiting the sick and the lonely, reaching out to the young.

‘We are learning to serve’, says Wilber Sucapuca Jaila, ‘and we are trying to satisfy the people’s hunger for God’.

His fellow seminarian Benjamin Huanca adds, ‘We don’t have much, but it’s not about material things. We have God in our hearts, that’s what counts.’

And Richard Pari Chambi speaks for all three, and for the other seminarians as well, when he says, ‘I am so happy in the vocation that God has granted me. I feel the desire within me to be a holy priest in the future.’

We are helping them to strive for this goal. With grants for each seminarian, we are helping the seminary to fill the holes in its budget.

‘The most important and fundamental thing for us is prayer and Holy Mass’, writes 19-year-old Denys Lerma Parillo. When he heard God’s call in his heart he at first thought, ‘I am not worthy, but nevertheless I am happy to be given this precious gift. And so I said, Here I am, Lord.’

It is the love of God and the love of Christ that moves these 48 young men, here in the mountains of Chucuito, just as it does the other 9 in the seminary of St Augustine in Iquitos, in the rainforest of the Peruvian Amazon, and the 20 others in St. Joseph’s seminary in Lurin, not far from the 8-million- strong metropolis of Lima, the Peruvian capital.

Their circumstances differ widely, but the ultimate reason for their response to God’s call is the same in every case. You are strengthening this motivation with your generosity. For the other thing that is true, always and everywhere, is this:

Without love for Christ, there will be no seminarians.

This article can be found in Mirror 0117.