By Thokozani Mkhonta
It still surprises me to realise that I am hopefully and joyfully journeying towards the Roman Catholic Church priesthood as a seminarian. I would never have imagined that attending mass for the first time in my life in April 2009 would dramatically change the course of my life.
It all began when I met and befriended a particular Catholic man in the neighbourhood of Luyengo where I was staying at the time. We would occasionally bump on to each other in the neighbourhood and hence began to know and talk to each other. He was a faith inclined person and thus faith was one of the topics that dominated our conversations though we rarely agreed on this topic as there were many things I then didn’t understand about the Catholic Church.
On one particular day, he expressed to me that he can be happy if I can go with him to mass so that I can have an experience of Catholic worship. I agreed and thus on one particular Sunday of April 2009 we attended mass together. Strangely, as I was observing the priest, together with servers, processing to the altar, I began to imagine myself as a priest. I guess this is the moment I first experienced the call. I dismissed the thought and continued to observe mass as it proceeded. In the homily, the priest exhorted the faithful to inform themselves exhaustively about anything that was part of their lives, especially in matters of religion. He expressed that many have left the Church because of limited knowledge of the content of their faith whilst some have joined the Church because of discovering the solid truth of its faith. This had a huge impact on me.
Going back home I was determined to learn more about the Catholic Church. I began to read more authentic Catholic books and began to attend mass regularly. In the process I was slowly getting convicted of the Catholic faith. The priesthood thought kept coming back and intensified as I was preparing to join the Church. It was until early 2010 that I decided to officially join the Catholic Church. I attended catechism classes at St Agnes Church at Ngwazini, an outstation of Florence Mission which is my home parish. I was baptised in the Easter of 2011. In the same year I expressed my desire to be a priest to my parish priest who referred me to the diocesan vocations team. The process and requirements for seminary were fast tracked to get me ready for seminary in 2014. I began my seminary formation in 2014 at St Francis Xavier Seminary in Cape Town. I am currently pursuing my theological formation with St John Vianney seminary in Pretoria.