Work with Communities
Cultivating tomorrow's leaders
John Chrysostom Tom, a third-year seminarian from Tamale, Ghana, is looking forward to continuing his studies as he enters his third year of philosophy.
Coming from a large Catholic family, John was raised in a strong faith structure, his parents encouraging and supporting him as he grew. His uncle was a priest, his nephew was ordained a priest back in July, and one of his sisters belongs to the order of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus.
From a young age, John knew he was destined to become a priest, although he took on university study before joining the seminary, which allowed him to consider further just why he is called to follow this vocation: ‘I initially thought that becoming a priest was to help people … but now I know the most important thing is that you do not become a priest solely to help people, rather to ask, “What does God want in my life?”’
As he prepares to enter his fourth year of study and first of theology at the St Victor’s Major Seminary in his home town, John says he is always reflecting on what God may have in store for him.
With just a few years before he is ordained and sent to lead a parish community in Ghana, John and his fellow seminarians are not only undergoing the spiritual formation which will help them in their future pastoral service, but they are being taught practical skills such as agriculture and farming knowledge. This is a growing interest of many seminaries around the world, particularly in areas like Ghana, where natural resources are plentiful. Increasingly, priests as community leaders must have practical agricultural skills they can pass on to parishioners to prevent this crucial knowledge from slipping away.
In John’s first year, he was assigned to work with the animals, taking care of the pigs and sheep. Currently St Victor’s has a small piggery, some sheep, with a plot of 14 acres of farmable land. The seminary itself is almost fully self-sustainable – the meat that they eat comes from their stock, and whatever is left over can be sold to generate more income – however they are looking into more ways that they can improve and become fully self-sustainable.
John is mindful of the support he receives from Australia and has a message for you in return. ‘We should always seek to help our brothers and sisters, by praying and asking God that he will give us the strength and resources to do so. He knows that Christ is calling each and every one of us to help, and that God will never let our suffering or support be in vain.’
Inspired by the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), John reflects on the concept of unconditional love given by the father to his son – John wants to follow the steps of Christ who also shows us unconditional love. Seminarians all around the world, just like John, are being well prepared to lead the Church thanks to supporters like you. In the future, they will grow their local Church and reach out to communities to help where they can, whether it be through practical or spiritual support. In Ghana, it costs nearly $3,000 USD per year to fully train just one seminarian. Your support of these young men is crucial to the development of the Church.