From Student to Father - A Short Trip to Africa

Prior Joel Macul OSB.  Each year for the past six years I have made a trip to Tanzania and Kenya in the first half of the year. This year I left for East Africa a few days after Easter. The trip has a clear focus—to visit the student monks in East Africa who are living together in two study houses. It is a service to our Ottilien Benedictine Congregation as the Congregation Study House Advisor. It is understood as a fraternal visit to our student monks to listen to them about how their studies are going, to assess their living situation and to make recommendations to their superiors regarding the various academic institutions where the monks are studying. For the most part these student monks are taking courses in philosophy and theology in preparation for ordination.


My visit this year began with the monks studying at Jordan University College in Morogoro, Tanzania ( 120 mi west of Dar es Salaam). There are nine monks studying there at the moment. They come from the four abbeys we have in Tanzania plus a monk from the priory in Zambia. Five of the brothers are in the philosophy or theology program while four of them are taking courses in the area of accountancy and business. The four abbeys are large communities and skills are needed in several areas. The need for financial transparency in the monasteries means that young monks are being trained in this area to better serve their communities. Jordan College is a young, small educational Catholic institution with a strong program in education among other areas. This means that our communities that have schools can take advantage of the college for training their future teachers.