Grand Seminaire

The bell tower at the Grand Seminaire Jean Paul II in Lodja-Shapembe.

When I first met Albert Shuyaka, I heard about the “Grand Seminaire Jean Paul II” in Lodja, where he had studied philosophy.  On Friday, July 15, Peter Nugent and I visited the seminary (along with Albert and Father Jules Lusumbu) on our way to the Lokenyi River.  The seminary had been established by Bishop Nicolas Djomo, who had spent 14 years as rector.  The seminary is at least ten miles outside of Lodja in the Shapembe District — seminarians have to think twice before walking into town.

Father Jules led us to a classroom, with quotes from St. Augustine and Pope Benedict on the chalkboard.

When we arrived, the seminary was closed for the summer.  We visited a classroom whose desks had been put in storage, but which still had quotations from St. Augustine and Pope Benedict on the blackboard.  The chalk instructions asked students to discuss what Augustine meant about the relation between the life of nature and  of reason.  I reflected that “natural life” in the Congo is a lot more natural than it is here — but I’m not certain that the life of reason in the USA is any more reasonable.

Albert Shuyaka sits on the bed in his first room at the Grand Seminaire (with the shower to the left).

Albert took us to the dormitory where he lived as a student with Rafael Okitafumba.  During the first year, Rafael had broken his arm, and after the arm had been set, Albert and his friend Valentine had cared for him.  At first, Albert had tried to sleep on the bed in his room without a mattress, but soon gave up and slept on the floor.  He also described how his family had bought for him a pair of shoes to wear at the seminary.  When he walked there from his home (a four-day trip), soldiers robbed him and took — his shoes.

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