LEARNING TO LEAD LIKE JESUS -- Several of the 180 seminarians who attended the 2015 Seminarians’ Fraternity Retreat gather around Bishop Paul Ssemwogere, head of the Kasana-Luwero Diocese, site of the gathering. Bishop Ssemwogere spoke on the retreat’s theme, "Called to Lead Like Jesus."
How a single copy of a book starts a movement
The Yeshua Institute is looking for partners to help us teach seminarians in Uganda how to Lead Like Jesus. Almost miraculously, the story of our work with seminarians there begins with a single copy of a book.
The soil in which our service to seminarians has taken root was cultivated in 2012 and 2013, when Father Dave Beauvais, Dick Kunnert and I made trips to Kampala, Uganda, at the invitation of Archbishop Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga to share the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus with the priests of his archdiocese.
About a year later a seminarian at National Seminary Ggaba who had heard about S3 Jesus-Like Leadership approached Javis Mugagga, our lay representative in Uganda, and asked him if there was a way for him to learn more about this approach to leadership.
At the time Javis had just one spare copy of the book The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus. But he also had an idea for multiplying its impact -- much as the Gospels tell us Jesus multiplied the impact of a few loaves and fish.
Pass it on
Javis offered to give the book to the seminarian under one condition: he had to promise that when he was done reading it, he would pass it on to another seminarian after extracting that seminarian’s promise to read it and pass it on to yet another seminarian, who in turn would promise to read it and pass it on. Soon more than a dozen of the seminarians had read the book and were gathering in a small group to discuss its implications for their future lives as priests and pastors.
Now, two years later, similar small groups are forming in all of Uganda’s major seminaries. That is an outgrowth of the annual Seminarians’ Fraternity Retreat, where representatives of Uganda’s major seminaries gathered in December, 2014, to explore in greater depth the meaning and implications of S3 Jesus-Like Leadership for them as priests-to-be.
Making a commitment
When that conference was being planned, the Yeshua Institute was approached to help sponsor it. We agreed, and the event was such a success that we were petitioned to help underwrite it on an annual basis. After reading the grateful comments of seminarians who found the conference very affirming of their call to priesthood, how could we refuse? So we served as the major sponsor of the Retreat in December, 2015, which drew 180 seminarians to focus on the theme “Called to Lead Like Jesus.”
Going forward, the Retreat is being held in May this year. The Fraternity has been able to get the cost down to $36 per seminarian, a fee that is very reasonable because it covers their room, board, all materials and speakers for the 4-day event. But many of the men who want to attend do not have the means to do so, and their seminaries are not in a position to underwrite the cost.
The challenge of succes
The Yeshua Institute has been able to help sponsor the last two conferences on a limited basis, but the growing success of the gathering has also become a growing – and major -- expense in our annual budget. So we’re reaching out to readers in the hope that you will decide to partner with us by sponsoring a seminarian, or perhaps more than one if you are able to.
We’re devoted to helping these men develop into priest-pastors who will serve as Servants, Stewards and Shepherds to the people of Uganda – the very kind of leaders Pope Francis has urged every priest to be.
You can partner with us and provide one or more Seminarian Scholarships by clicking here or mailing your contribution to the Seminarian Scholarship Fund, Yeshua Institute, 208 E. North St., Durand, IL 61024. Be assured of our gratitude – and the gratitude of the seminarians – for whatever gift you can provide.
SEMINARIANS EXPLORE LEADERSHIP – Members of the first small group of seminarians studying what it means to be S3 Jesus-Like Leaders gather at the home of their nurse (far right) near National Seminary Ggaba in 2014. In 2016 small groups are being formed at all of Uganda’s other major