Imagine for a moment the rolling landscapes of Malawi, a country of unparalleled beauty but also the profound challenges that come from being the 7th poorest nation in the world. Envision families grappling with the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy that washed away homes, health centers and schools, cutting off vital lifelines for those most in need. 

Imagine yourself in this landscape, looking up to the top of this hill of hardships, to find the one complex that remained standing in your neighborhood after the passage in 2023 of the longest-lasting tropical cyclone ever recorded. That complex is the Likanani Catholic Parish and adjoining primary school, in the Phalombe District. 

Deacon Howard, studying at the St Peter Major seminary, doesn’t have to image it. He lived through the cyclone. He walked the streets of Phalombe. He learned to read and write in this Catholic school and received his First Communion in this parish. But the palpable hardships caused by Freddy’s destruction, topped with a devalued local currency, sky rocketing inflation and a shortage of priests, have not clipped his wings.

“My dream, my hope, is that I will complete my studies and be ordained into the priesthood this July, and go back to this parish,” Deacon Howard said. “There is currently only one priest in this parish, and he struggles to meet the needs of the 40 outer stations of the parish. He does his best, but even then, most people go three months without seeing a priest.”

He is currently in his last year of preparation for the priesthood in the only major seminary in the country. Each of the nine years of his education have costed the Church in Malawi $2,000.

“If it weren’t for the help we receive from The Pontifical Mission societies, which includes a yearly scholarship of $700 per seminarian, young men such as Deacon Howard would never make it into the priesthood,” said Father Daniel Chasowa Kamanga, the rector of the seminary. “I wouldn’t have made it into the priesthood! And we are in dire need of priests!”

The St Peter Major seminary currently has 109 students, 21 of whom should be ordained this July, including Deacon Howard. The seminary today has 10 resident priests, teachers and formators, as well as 22 staff members. Hundreds of young men apply to the seminary each year, but the cost of living- that tripled in November due to a devaluation-, means Father Daniel often has to turn many of them down.


“The overall objective of the seminary is to provide a thorough human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation so that the seminarians may become zealous pastors in the service of Christ, his Church and its mission in the world today,” said Father Daniel. “In particular, candidates are being invited to take seriously their mission as future priests in the Church and in her evangelizing mission.”

To alleviate some of the financial burdens of the seminary, the students are not only engaged in theological and philosophical formation. Borrowing the famous dictum from the Benedictine Spirituality, ora et labora (to work is to pray), Father Daniel noted that the sstudents are also engaged in various kinds of services within the seminary community such as pig rearing, fish farming, chicken rearing, and vegetable growing, to mention a few.

Self-reliance, Father Daniel admitted, “will be essential for them once they go out and work the Lord’s vineyard. The faithful are extremely generous during the Sunday collection. But often times, all a family can offer is a goat, so it is good that they leave us knowing how to tend to a goat!”

The Pontifical Mission Societies USA, through the Society of Peter and Paul, is committed to helping seminaries such as St Peter’s in Malawi, as well as centers of formation for future religious sisters, through grants and scholarships. This means that, through the generosity of our donors, in the year 2023 we were able to help over 38,000 young men as they prepare to be sent as workers to the vineyard.

If seven people such as yourself gave $100, we can fund a year for a young laborer, removing one hardship from the many young men and women have to overcome in 1,150 mission territories to dedicate their lives to the Lord.