Glenmary seminarian Richard Toboso, 27, and fellow student Charles Aketch renewed their Glenmary Oaths for the first time in May 2016 during a special service at Cincinnati headquarters, after completing their second year of theology studies at St. Meinrad (Ind.) Seminary.
Richard was also installed in the Ministry of Acolyte at the seminary that same month.
In the summer of 2016, Richard has been involved in a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at a hospital in Evansville, Ind. The CPE program is part of every future missioner's preparation for pastoral ministry in the Glenmary home missions. He will return to the seminary for his third year of theology studies in the fall of that year.
Regarding his Glenmary formation to this point, Richard says that "with this background, I hope to later serve and share my love and joy with all the people I expect to meet as a missioner...and to help bring the presence of the Catholic Church to places where it has not been before. I ask God to help me as I discern."
Richard grew up in a strong Catholic family in his Kakamega, Kenya, community, the fourth of eight children. His mother provided a constant example, the family valued community prayer, and his brother introduced him to altar serving. The family also desired that "one member could dedicate himself or herself to the service of the Lord, which challenged me whenever I was thinking about my vocation and life."
In addition, he says, the love and concern of his parish pastor, a Mill Hill missionary, contributed to his desire to discern a possible call to the priesthood.
After primary school, he entered a minor seminary in his hometown, where his experience reinforced his possible vocation. He subsequently became a volunteer teacher at his home parish's primary school prior to entering diocesan formation, further discerning priesthood and completing his degree in philosophy and religious studies.
Richard then returned to volunteer pastoral work, teaching at the primary and secondary levels and helping teach catechism in his home parish and in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, visiting the sick, talking with those infected with HIV and AIDS, and preparing for school liturgies.
He says that "my joy and love for joining Glenmary came when I met a few seminarians in 2010-11 who were studying for Glenmary and shared with me about Glenmary's mission of serving (marginalized people in) the rural areas of America."
It was a completely new idea for Richard, so he did more reading on the Internet and became convinced that he might be called to Glenmary priesthood—especially since he served and loved the sick and poor during his volunteer ministry. Having met those challenges, he says, gave him the courage and hope that he could join Glenmary and "fulfill my heart's desire to be with people who are marginalized."
He deeply appreciated the clear communication and interaction with Glenmary once he began his discernment. "They presented the true picture of what we would meet without hiding anything," he says. A pivotal experience was the 2013 Glenmary retreat he attended, during which he had the chance to listen, talk to, pray with and get to know the Glenmarians there. And his experience with Glenmary since he arrived in the United States has reinforced his choice.
In reflecting back on his decision to join Glenmary, Richard says that "I knew it was a big and special challenge since I had never been out of my home country and because I would be going to a different culture to serve....But I am convinced I'm on the right track...."
In the midst of adjusting to a new country, new culture and new way of life, he completed his first year of studies at St. Meinrad Seminary in the 2013-14 academic year.
In the summer of 2014, prior to the start of the yearlong novitiate program, Richard went on a three-week mission placement to then-Camp Glenmary in northeast Mississippi. He says it was a "great learning experience" for him to work with the poor children and children from foster homes during the Camp Friendship weeks, as well with the Catholic teenagers at Catholic Camp.
Then Richard and Charles began their one-year novitiate program in the fall of 2014 leading up to their First Oaths.
The two-month first phase of the novitiate introduced the two students to the spirituality and charism of the society. In the process, Richard says, "I had more time to pray and reflect on events. And I admire the commitment and humility of Father Dan (Dorsey) and Father Tom (Kirkendoll) in guiding us through our studies and experiences." He also learned more about U.S. culture and volunteered once a week with the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
In the five-month second phase, Richard was on a placement at the Lafayette and Celina, Tenn., missions, where he worked with Father Vic Subb and was involved in a variety of mission and community ministries. In the process, says Richard, he gained a deeper understanding of Glenmary's ministry, the people who live in the mission counties, and how missioners serve them.
The third phase in the spring of 2015 consisted mostly of study and contemplation, focused on apostolic life and the Glenmary Oath, in preparation for his own First Oath.
Finally, Richard and Charles professed their First Glenmary Oaths in May 2015 during a special Mass in Cincinnati. In doing so, they became members of Glenmary Home Missioners.
After another two-month assignment at the Lafayette and Celina missions in the summer of 2015, Richard returned to the seminary in the fall of 2015 for his second year of studies there, prior to his Oath renewal in May 2016.