On Tuesday evening, the parish said goodbye to its assistant priest, Fr. Tom Smith, who is off to a parish of his own - Warminster. Helping out here in Cheltenham for six weeks, we have a priest from Northern Uganda, Fr. Charles Ohuro. I went round to see him yesterday afternoon.
What a contrast for him, between Cheltenham and his home town on the banks of the Nile, a big game reserve only a stone's throw away and hurricane lamps providing the only light after dark. Fr. Charles is chaplain in a secondary school, founded by Italian missionaries. Priests have no stipends, but subsist on gifts in kind. They walk or bicycle round their parishes: he hopes to go back with a motor cycle, to reduce the time spent in travelling round the village primary schools which feed into his own school.
Whereas vocations in this country are insufficient to compensate for the priests who reach retirement age, in Fr. Charles' diocese, there are over 30 seminarians. With five children constituting a small family, parents are willing if not eager to offer one of their sons for God's service.