In January 2017, Fr Mark Sultana – spiritual director at the Archbishop’s Seminary – travelled to Kitwe, Zambia to deliver a series of lectures at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. We were curious to find out about seminarians there and seminary life, about their call and vocation. What’s different? What’s similar? Below is the first of two experiences we shall publish this week. This was written by Francis Songwe.

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It was during the time I was preparing to go to the University that the Lord called me to enter the Seminary. And, leaving behind the small job I was doing as a sales assistant and my project of studying Medicine, I followed the Lord.

Upon entering the Seminary Redemptoris Mater in Kitwe-Zambia, in January, 2016, I started my first year with a lot of difficulties that were inviting me to leave the Seminary. Just after three weeks of my Seminary life, my brother died. This affected me so much because, just at that moment, I started worrying about my family more especially about my parents as to who would provide for them. Besides, my former companions in school, who were enrolled at universities, were telling me that the University had accepted me, and thus were asking me when I would leave the Seminary to join them. That also put me in crisis, thinking that my friends outside were more happy and were enjoying life more than I was. Hence, at times I thought I had not made the right decision in entering the Seminary. Nonetheless, in all hard moments, the Lord was there to help me.

When I shared the crises that arose from the voices that came from my former companions in school, I was told by my formators that God does not want to take anything away from me, but wants me to be free, to have fullness of happiness and to give me greater things than I had projected my all my life in the studies (especially medicine). I believed in those words, knowing only three things: That God loves me very much, He knows more than me, and that He has prepared good and greater things for my life. In addition, it is by looking at what God has done so far that I have gained strength to remain in the Seminary. Through the Seminary, the Lord gave me the grace of tasting the life of chastity, which was a difficulty before, and it was one of the big signs that He gave me to show that He is calling me and that it is possible for me to live a chaste life in future if he is calling me for the priesthood. Among the other things, the Lord has been giving me the grace to ask for forgiveness from my fellow seminarians whenever we differ; without waiting that they, first, make a step to come to me. Perhaps, God has called me to know his loving providence in that, even though we live a precarious life in the Seminary, with no money in the pocket, yet we always live in dignity.

On the one hand, through the Seminary, I am learning to be a responsible person and, also, the seminary is also teaching me how to live, pray, work and study.To sum up, I have just started my second academic year, but with reference to my first year experience, there is a great hope that the Lord will do marvelous things for me in future. I am happy in the seminary even though life becomes hard at times, but I know that the crises (challenges) will help me to grow and be a man. But most importantly, that the Lord will be there to help me.

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