Gabriel Joseph Ssenkindo
I am Gabriel Joseph Ssenkindo, a Benedictine monk of Christ the King Priory, Tororo-Uganda. I arrived at Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota in the Fall of 1997. Having completed an MA program, majoring in Monastic studies, at the School of Theology and Seminary (SOT/Sem), I returned to Tororo-Uganda in the Winter of 2000.
Because of the formation and training at the SOT/Sem, my community entrusted me with various responsibilities from when I returned to now. I have served as Novicemaster (Director of Formation) in my community and our Benedictine community in Kenya, Associate Pastor and Pastor of St. Teresa's Parish in the Archdiocese of Tororo, Subprior, Administrator of the Benedictine Eye Hospital, Chaplain at a Girls High School to over 500 Catholic students, and as a member of the Board of governors of the Benedictine Eye Hospital.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the community entrusted me with these responsibilities because of my training and formation at the SOT/Sem. The values instilled in me at the SOT/Sem, especially, of putting the other [person], ministry, and service before self is very much appreciated by those I work with, minister to, and serve. The training and formation at the SOT/Sem enable me to minister and serve anywhere, in any situation around the globe.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great effect on the way I minister and serve. No gatherings more than 5 persons, public worship is banned, schools are closed, being in the border district neighboring Kenya private cars are banned, and many other restrictions. Social distancing, wearing a facemask, and handwashing are a must.
As a community, compliance with the restrictions, we have our daily liturgy of the hours and Mass. I take Mass to families/homes. On June 24, the 25th anniversary of my ordination, I celebrated Mass at the home of my friends and baptized their child. A challenge in observing social distancing. At the request of Fr. Prior Fidelis, our superior, l went the celebrate Mass for the Benedictine nuns of perpetual adoration deep in a rural area. They were so excited to have Mass which they had not had in a while. The following day, June 29, the feast of Peter, I was supposed to return to the monastery as early as possible. The nuns wouldn't hear anything of that. They wouldn't let me leave before celebrating Mass.
In Africa, where "family" is everything, without such one feels he/she is nothing, we [live] I AM because you ARE. I'm able to minister and serve the way I do because of my formation and training at the SOT/Sem. So I can say, I AM because the SOT/Sem IS. May I express my most sincere THANKS and GRATITUDE to the donors who support the School of Theology and Seminary particularly financially so that they can continue to form and train persons like me. The SOT/Sem IS because you (donors) ARE.
Thank you so much!
Asante sana! (Swahili)
Mwebale nnyo! (Luganda)