About the Seminaries Endowment Fund
The KCCB-SEMINARIES ENDOWMENT FUND (SEF) was launched by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2018.
The endowment fund will pool funds from different sources and, with the help of professionals, prudently invest them so as to generate enough investment income to run the five major seminaries in Kenya.
Seminaries are charged with training future priests and running these institutions is very expensive. The purpose of the SEF is to ensure the five major seminaries in Kenya have the resources they need to effectively and comfortably carry out their role of training future priests for the Church in Kenya.
The cost of educating a seminarian for one year is approximately Kshs. 150,000. This cost only covers the operational costs which include food, utilities and staff wages. Currently we have 880 seminarians and thus the annual running costs of our seminaries are Kshs. 132,000,000.
There are five major seminaries in Kenya where this training is undertaken:
- St. Mary's Propaedeutic Seminary, Molo (Spiritual Year)
- St. Augustine Senior Seminary, Mabanga-Bungoma (Philosophy)
- St. Thomas Aquinas Senior Seminary, Nairobi (Theology)
- St. Mathias Mulumba Senior Seminary, Tindinyo-Kapsabet (Theology)
- Christ the King Major Seminary, Nyeri (Spiritual Year, Philosophy, Theology)
None of these seminaries has had a major facelift from the time they were started. St. Thomas Aquinas, which was opened in 1963, is the oldest of them all and has not had any major renovations since its inception. It requires a major makeover. All the other seminaries also shall require major works in order to bring them up to the standards expected of an institution not only of higher learning but of an institution where a most dignified kind of formation takes place.
Apart from the necessary renovations occasioned by the normal wear and tear and by the need to modernize our seminaries, there is also an urgent need to increase the physical capacity of our seminaries. Currently there are about 2,700 priests in Kenya serving a population of roughly 15 million Catholics. This gives a ratio of 5,555 faithful for every priest. The recommended ratio is 2,000 Christians for each priest. It therefore means that we have less than half the priests required. If we consider that only about 80 seminarians graduate each year, at the current rate it would take at least 35 years to make up the shortfall (assuming all who are currently in the ministry will all still be active priests).
The option of missionary priests coming to work in Kenya no longer exists because those countries that in the past supplied us with missionaries no longer have the vocations they once enjoyed in the past. As a matter of fact, the trend appears to be Kenya becoming a source of priests for these countries which creates a further strain on the local Church.
The SEF is therefore tasked to, among other things:
- Meet the running costs of the five major seminaries in Kenya. In the short-run this is estimated to be Kshs. 132 million per annum but in the long run, once seminaries are expanded, it will be much higher
- Finance the refurbishment, modernization and expansion of the seminaries. Over the next ten years it is estimated that not less than Kshs. 1 billion will be expended on these activities.
- Improve staff working conditions in areas of pay and benefits such as medical insurance and pension.
- Provide for continuous training and upgrading of the clergy in order for them to adequately cope with the challenges of a fast moving and fast changing world.
- Grow itself (the SEF) into a fund of at least Kshs. 10 billion in not more than ten years. A fund of this size will ensure the long-term sustenance of our seminaries.
The SEF is largely relying on the faithful in Kenya or of Kenyan origin to meet these objectives. The underlying principle upon which the SEF is founded is the Kenyan harambee spirit. When we come together then we are able to achieve great things without placing a great burden on any single individual or institution. If 1 million people contributed Kshs. 1,000 each every year, in ten years we would grow our fund to Kshs. 10 billion. If 2 million people gave a similar amount, we would achieve the same goal in five years. The various permutations are uncountable but the underlying principle does not change: if we come together in the spirit of harambee, we shall ensure quality and enduring training of future priests.
Please consider signing up as a benefactor of the SEF. We need many good and holy priests and your contribution will be an invaluable assistance in achieving this.