Uganda: the new inter-obediential course for missionary formation

It started on the feast of St Anthony of Padua and will last for six weeks. The new Inter-Obediential Missionary Course in Africa (IMCA) is hosted by the friary of St Francis of Assisi in Kampala – Munyonyo, Uganda. From 13 June to 25 July 2022, 18 Franciscan friars (six Conventual friars, six Capuchin friars and six Friars Minor) will have the opportunity to refine their formation and then make themselves available for missionary service in the peripheries of the world.

“For about 20 years, a missionary formation course had been taking place in Brussels, and it was carried out with the three orders,” explains Br Francisco Gómez Vargas, OFM, Secretary General of the OFM Missions and Evangelisation Office. “From the previous government of the friars, a proposal came out to find a diffferent way to continue it. Therefore, the missionary course in Brussels has not been interrupted but continues differently. “The idea was to move the course to the context where the mission will take place,” continued Br Francisco. “So it was moved to Uganda to change the cultural and religious context. There is talk of one course a year to be held on different continents: the first in Africa, then in Asia and then in Europe. “In Europe, there could be two: one in the countries where religion still has a weight and one for the more secularised countries,” explains the Secretary of Missions and Evangelisation. “We want to train missionaries who know how to work in the individual contexts, and we have chosen friars who will actually go on mission”.

The Inter-Obediential Missionary Course is held at the Munyonyo Friary of the Friars Minor Conventual, with the participation of lecturers from the various branches of the Franciscan family and the supervision of the course animators, Br Evans Pax Masechu, OFM Cap and Br Dennis T. Tayo, OFM, and Br Dario Mazurek, OFM Conv.

In week 1, general notions about the African continent, health issues in Africa, and the history of evangelisation in Africa will be given. The basics of missiology (biblical, theological, historical, ecclesiological and African) will then be taught in week 2. Week 3 will examine mission and inculturation in Africa in week 3. Week 4 will be devoted to mission, dialogue and reconciliation, while week 5 will investigate the relationship between mission and economy (projects, self-support, welfare promotion, evangelical poverty). Finally, the last week will explore the challenges of mission (globalisation, migration, multiculturalism, clericalism, abuse and safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults, and new communication technologies).

The Friars Minor Conventual have been present in Munyono, part of Uganda’s capital Kampala, since 2013. In 2017, the Archbishop of Kampala asked the friars to develop and promote the area where St Andrew Kaggwa, St Denis Ssebugwawo and St Pontian Ngondwe were martyred in 1886 and where the martyrdom of Charles Lwanga and his companions also began. As a result, the shrine of Munyonyo was erected, and the pastoral care was entrusted to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. The friars care for the local Christians through the parish and the many pilgrims who regularly visit the place.