ISSR - Institut Supérieur de Sciences Religieuses, Congo

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Official name ISSR – Institut Supérieur de Sciences Religieuses
Country / Continent Congo / Africa
Director of the institute It is managed by Rector Jean Makaya. A Rector, an academic secretary general and an administrative secretary general.
Legal holder of the institute A bishop president of the board of directors and a bishop vice president.
Sponsor of the institute The dioceses and congregations who send candidates for training.

The partners of the northern churches who support our training action/programme. Local financing.

Year of foundation 1962.
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 14 employees, a freelancer, 34 part-time teachers
Staff members of your institute Among the members of our institute are two priests, one religious woman, and the rest are lay people. Our teaching staffs consist of 41 % priests, 6 % of religious women and 53 % of laypeople.
Contact B.P. 621,


RD Congo


Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

ISSR – Institut Supérieur de Sciences Religieuses

Director of the institute

It is managed by Rector Jean Makaya. A Rector, an academic secretary general and an administrative secretary general.

Legal holder of the institute

A bishop president of the board of directors and a bishop vice president.

The dioceses and congregations who send candidates for training.

The partners of the northern churches who support our training action/programme. Local financing.

Vision / mission statement

To make authentic lay witnesses of Christ available to the dioceses, parishes, schools, specialized groups and Christian basic communities.

Authentic witnesses who are deeply rooted in personal, mature und reflected faith and are able to defend it. Christians who are deeply committed as married or ordained people. Able to contribute actively to the growth of the family–church of God. They play a vital roll as motivators in the society. They are concretely in the position to guarantee the religious education of children and youths in the schools, parishes and specialized groups. As leaders they are in the position to take care of the integral religious and human developments of the communities.

Main areas of work

Their works include the training of trainers who are taking care of the basic Christian communities in the areas of catechesis, pastoral care and development. The training as Christian leaders with the intention of taking over special responsibilities in the Christian communities and in the society. The introduction into management and care of the community development and to enhance the general welfare.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

Lay and ordained people (men and women) with at least two years of pastoral experience or religious engagement in the parish that sends them for training. The priests are there in their capacity as teachers.

Year of foundation

The ISSR – Institut Supérieur de Sciences Religieuses of Kinshasa-Limete was founded in 1962 by the assembly of bishops of the church province of Kinshasa, abbreviated as ASSEPKIN.

Organisational structure of the institute

A rector, an examiner of the institution, who gives the bishops of ASSEPKIN report. An academic secretary general responsible for the organisation of the training. An administrative secretary general entrusted with administrative, material and financial issues.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

14 employees, a freelancer, 34 part-time teachers

Staff members of your institute[2]

Among the members of our institute are two priests, one religious woman, and the rest are lay people. Our teaching staffs consist of 41 % priests, 6 % of religious women and 53 % of laypeople.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Two doctor title holders, two licentiates, three graduates, four with high-school diploma, and four with elementary school degree (wards and servants). Concerning the part-time teaching staffs: 14 doctor title holders, 19 licentiates, and one representative for the practical job training courses.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

The whole of pastoral, catechesis and development.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

The training of teachers of religious courses, the pastoral personal in charge of Christian communities and the leaders who take care of micro-development-projects.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

The training of those who train the catechists for schools and parishes. The Bible and catechesis training of grown- up people in the Christian communities. Reflections and publications of themes regarding the deepening of faith, pastoral and catechetical practices. The reflection and analysis of economical, political, social, cultural and religious problems with the aim of taking action towards human support and development. The animation and celebration of the Christian mysteries over the contextualized liturgies. Deepening of the lay spirituality. Spiritual / pastoral care in specialized areas such as (prisons, hospitals and the marginalized...).

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

The deep outreaching evangelization of the people, beginning with the church communities at the grass root level; and the integral support of the people as the after effect of liberation through the preaching of the gospel.

Four cardinal training areas: theology, human sciences, caretaking and spirituality. These key areas are divided into an educational modules and subjects, consisting of a three years` programme.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

All our previous actions are moving slowly because of our present financial difficulties. The institute organizes every year in the locality practical trainings, Colloquiums, conferences and debates over current topics, apart from courses, training events and retreats in view of the enculturation of the Christians good news. The institute provides for the communities many publications over spiritual welfare, catechesis, liturgy, development and spirituality.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

One can not teach the catechism very well without being close to (and beloved from) the catechism student. The catechism students are invited to live a life of charity by assuming responsibility for their own community life. Every catechesis that is worth its name must begin with the expression of joy over the received salvation in a Para- liturgical or liturgical celebration, especially of the Eucharist, as the summit of all celebrations. The catechist must be a redeemed person who communicates this redemption to others with love and who celebrates together with them the joy of being saved in the Eucharist.

What notion of God inspires your work?

The African uses different pictures: God, father, mother, uncle, family- head, saviour, charitable forefather …etc. The institute presents the idea of one God “father”, who is near to us, father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the saviour of our life through his passion, his death on the cross and his resurrection. The definition of the African church as the “family of God”, does not show God as a God of opposition between the “reach and the poor”, who would be ashamed to live among the poor families, or who would support the material poverty of the Africans. But a God who gives us his spirit, who frees us from all kinds of marginalisation/ oppression, from inside and from outside.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

It is above all things about the “lay Christian spirituality”. To be a lay person, does not mean the “lack of God ´s love” or “not having enough of it”. History gives us enough examples of lay people who saved the church from destruction.

It is believable, that well trained and religious lay people are the pillars of faith and of the life of the church in the world. And the church must take their training very serious and deepen it.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

Direct and indirect observations, questionnaires, practical reports, colloquium, reports, seminars, organisation of events and workshops etc. Periodical evaluations with our locally trained former students. These procedures will be elaborated in the groups during our meetings in which every participant can express his problems. These will be documented and analysed. In order to deepen these open questions, the procedures will be separated and sent through the channels of the dioceses, parishes or through direct contact with the existing means.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

The church is a lighted lantern which drives away darkness and gives light to the society. The church must endeavour to be an example through just and transparent leadership in her structures, in order to move the society forward. The people of this time are weaned off through the contradictory lives and speeches of the preachers. The church should carry the good news from now on with her examples. The institute should express the holiness of our leadership structures and of the persons who carry out the good news, in order to make our discussion for the organisation of the society for tomorrow credible. The institute provides the church and the society with men and women who are talented with a new spirit to bring a wind of change in the church and society.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

The institute tries to recover from the withdrawal of all its external partners which caused instability and unexpected working processes. The local partners are greatly affected financially also. As a result of this, we rely only on self- financing. There are many considerations but the publications are almost stopped. The courses go on normally, however it is a great pain for us to dismiss our volunteer after many days of savings. The colloquiums are no longer held, but some very limited exposes still exist.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

The Magazines Chaino and Tam Tam have been suspended because of insufficient funds.

Manuals for the catechesis for the primary school lessons. Manuals for religious education in secondary schools. Manuals for catechetical methodology for primary and secondary education. Manuals for the introduction of the new officers in the church. Manuals for the permanent training of the care takers of the basic communities. A book containing the reflections of the colloquiums. A booklet containing liturgical materials for the liturgical service without a priest. Reports of seminars, workshops, training events, reports from practicals, final study works. Applicable management tools, etc.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

A careful training of of the lay personnel who take care of the pastoral work, as indispensable co-worker of the Church for tomorrow.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

The Institute reached its highest tempo and aura in its activities in the year 2000 and there about. Unfortunately, the situation has reversed through the leadership with unforeseen consequences. «The fishing is always accompanied by the death of expensive creatures and carefully managed works». But we believe in the resurrection, may be now is the moment that brings us hope to rise again.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

The mastering of the working tools for a more open and a more cooperative leadership. The highest presence of the activities of the institute in the country and in the world. The search for different possibilities to mobilize the necessary local resources. The reanimation of the training-, care taking and research activities for the local church and the society.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

The training project depends above all on the distribution of the related subventions. When the aid organisations withdraw, even if with advance notice, they give fatal blow to the short and medium term projects, before other surviving means can be found. The financial means to begin the training again, to provide modern learning material, research, publications, and to bring the classrooms and the furniture to standard, to provide the library with new research materials and recent manuals, in order to organize seminars and colloquiums, etc.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

The challenge of today is the visibility of the church’s actions. Today the growing influence of the imported religious sects blocks the effectiveness of the actions of the Catholic Church in our country. There are districts and villages in the remote areas, once dominated by the presence of catholic activities that today have been taken over by the sects. The challenge of the thorough evangelisation of the people must not only be an intellectual demand of the authorities of the church, but it should also be above all an opportunity of well trained lay people with the other laities. The challenge of poverty of the evangelized population. To train lay people as trainers of the other laities and as caretakers for an integral development of the communities means to integrate the well trained lay people into the leadership of special developmental structures of the church and the society. That means to respond to the instruction of Jesus Christ the Lord, “It is not necessary that they go away, give them something to eat” (Mt 14, 16)

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

”The harvest is much, but the labourers are few; pray the Lord of the harvest I to send labourers into his vineyard” (Mt 9, 38).Our institute is a response to the call of Christ to the lay people. Priests and religious women have their special calling. The lay people are discovering with ISSR another calling that corresponds with the nature of their lives in deepening their faith, and together with the priests and ordained men and women to serve their people and to build up the church. They feel to be called to the same life of holiness. But above all the problem of the living together of the “oldest son with his youngest brother” (Lk 25-30) must be overcome. The participation of the lay people relieves as well the problem of power tussle in the church. This question of the exclusive ministerial clericalism is contradictory of the responsibility to the lay people (Mt 20, 25-28).

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

Our institute is already because of its vocation entrusted with the training and support of the laypeople in the church and in the society.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

The institute is a source of inspiration for many local and neighbouring churches in the area of the pastoral and catechetical initiatives. Especially through the training of candidates whom they send to us. Also through the exchange of our training programmes and the documentation which we provide to our local churches. Equally through the organisation of colloquiums, magazines and seminars etc. which are open to every interested persons.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

The cooperation of our institute with the national bishops` conference takes place through the bishops` conference of the province, ASSEPKIN, which is its organisational strength. Nevertheless a member of the general secretariat of he bishops `conference of the land will always be nominated to take part in our administrative boards.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

The platform of the rectors of all ISSR of Kongo, which was created for exchange programmes and the for exchange of know how under the institutes do not function any longer.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

Some of our final students will be sent to an international institution for further education (e. g. Lumen Vitae, Louvain-La-Neuve, the caretaker Mess`aje of the University of Lille, etc.). Regarding local training, colloquiums, seminars, certain international speakers act as teachers in the areas of their specialisation.

The exchange of magazines and other publications, etc.

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

Conferences about Islam or the participation in the team search for useful plans against situations that threaten life such as the scourges of HIV and Aids raise theological questions.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

Exchange of teachers among the institutions. Invitation of speakers from non-catholic institutions to our colloquiums. Organisation of ecumenical workshops over reflections and research into the problems that touch Christian faith (e. g. HIV and Aids).

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

We are affiliated to the catholic university of Kongo through the sharing of teaching staff, conferences, workshops and publications. We are also affiliated to the international institute Lumen Vitae and we share magazines, publications and the exchange programme of some of our finalists. Also we subscribe all major theological magazines edited by European and Kongo organisations, within our means.

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

Our biggest problem is to raise funds to organize various meetings such as rectors` platform, colloquiums, and evaluations with the former students. Material and financial assistance can help to organize these meetings.

The assistance of some international experts in form of participation in these meetings would be very welcome. Further help would be to take care of the students. Their dioceses cannot afford to pay the school fees and the living apartments of their students in Kinshasa. As all the partners withdrew at the same time, we are faced with the question of communal responsibility, as well as the wellbeing and solidarity among the sister churches. Is not Christ himself as a true victim ill-treated from all?

  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.