“Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mathew 28:19). These were words that my bishop used in my last meeting with him, as he was sending me off to come to Mundelein Seminary. I am a seminarian from the diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana in Uganda. On telling me those words, I did not understand straight away what they meant, until when I was given the assignment to go and do my Teaching Parish Program at St. Joseph’s parish in Libertyville. When I received this assignment, my mind ran back to the bible phrase “go and make disciples of all nations,” which my bishop used. I came to understand what it means and what it calls me to do.
Arriving at the parish, I was so nervous because this was my first time in this new place. I was new to the people, their culture, and lifestyle since I am not originally from the United States. I was worried about communicating with the people, because I thought that they might not be able to understand me well due to my different English. But surprisingly, I was very warmly welcomed to the parish by the pastor, Fr. John Trout, his associates, and all the parishioners, and this gave me courage.
I was assigned to work with the youth ministry, and not with the RCIA as I had expected. The start of my ministry was a bit hard because of the fear I had of working with people I don’t know. But after some time, I came to know the people very well especially the youth and youth ministers who helped to teach me more about their culture, lifestyle and so forth. This helped me to get more involved in all youth activities we have at St. Joe’s.
In every youth meeting, we had a new topic to meditate or talk about either concerning our spiritual life or secular life. Through our sharing, I came to learn the ways in which young people practice their faith and some of the challenges they face. We took on the call of making more disciples of Christ, and encouraged each youth group member to bring at least one new member to the group. This worked out well and led to an increase in the number of youth in our church.
The presence and involvement of youth in church activities gives hope to everyone, and assurance that the future for tomorrow’s church is bright. Like young trees in the forest which supplement the already grown-out trees, active young people lead to a continuity of Christ`s church and mission here on earth. Therefore, as a future priest, I have a responsibility of guiding and leading all God’s people to Him. I am called to make more disciples of Christ throughout all generations.
Through the Teaching Parish Program, I have been strengthening my faith and call to priesthood, and enabling other young people come to Christ and become disciples. I am learning how to be a good pastor, spiritual director, counselor, and youth chaplain. I am learning how to work well with people from different backgrounds and ideologies, communicate well to people, and participate in parish ministries, which teaches me how to serve God’s people. It has exposed me to some of the challenges we face as ministers of God and how to overcome them. I am thankful to all the pastors, associate pastors, ministry heads at parishes and all Christians for teaching and guiding us through this program.