Previously viewed by a section of pastoral workers as a place of ‘panel beating’ so to borrow the words of the Institutes Coordinator Rev. Dr. Joseph Ekomwa; the AMECEA Pastoral Institute now offer much more than just spiritual renewal.
According to the Coordinator the perception grew owing to the fact that some of the pastoral workers sent to the institute were having certain challenges in the field such as excessive drinking, or burn out due to prolonged rigorous and demanding pastoral work without adequate rest.
“The bishops or religious superiors sent such Pastoral workers here, so that they may be helped to address such challenges in a very relaxed atmosphere unlike back in the parish or the diocese. This is where the mentality grew up that those who were being sent to Gaba were seen as some failures in the field. I would say that actually the problem is with the individual concerning how he/she looked at the reason behind their being sent here.”
He explained that that image has since metamorphosed since Institute was taken up by Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) as one of its campuses. “The people don’t just come here for the sake of spiritual renewal but for much more. Those who come here are also qualified to do an academic program,” Dr. Ekomwa explained adding that when the institute receives new recruits, those who qualify for certain academic programs are enrolled to do so if they so wished.
“Apart from spiritual renewal Gaba is now a place where someone has opportunity to develop their potential, skills in different areas of interest as well as intellectual abilities. It is an opportunity given to a person to rediscover oneself in terms of their abilities and talents, to renew oneself to rejuvenate as well as to invigorate oneself.”
So far the institute offers two diplomas, that is Diploma in evangelization and Catechesis and Diploma in Pastoral Ministry and Management. Apart from the academic rigor the institute also takes care of the spiritual renewal aspect so that at the end of it a person goes home satisfied; besides, there is the advantage of the community support.
Apart from the two diplomas, which both takes nine months, there is a Sabbatical and Renewal Program. This is basically for those who don’t want to come and do any academic part of the program. This also takes a nine-months course program, which has been prepared by the institute and is tailored towards the need to discuss issues of general concern such as aging gracefully, prayer life, the human life’s journey, spiritual destination, personality types among others.
According to Fr. Ekomwa, because those who come for sabbatical are mostly senior members among pastoral workers there is a full time counsellor who also talks about transition in human life, emotional intelligence as well as offer reflections on personal life.
By Pamela Adinda, AMECEA Online News