St. Kizito House of Formation for philosophy students belongs to the diocese of Gaborone in Botswana. It is situated in Lusaka, Zambia, adjacent to the campus of St. Bonaventure College. In 2019, the diocese invited the Sulpicians to take charge of it.
The house was originally a family residence. Its operational style reflected its architectural design as the house operated more like a family than an institution. The staff and students would do everything in common: they live, share responsibilities, eat, and pray together.
However, the natural intimacies of family life do not translate well to a formation program that is to model life for diocesan priests. Changes had to be made to the interior design of the house to make it serve the needs of a growing formation program.
The original design of the house had eight bedrooms, a kitchen, a large sitting room, and a dining room. To make it a house of formation, the dining room was turned into a chapel, one bedroom became a storage room, and part of the sitting room was turned into a dining room. Another open space next to the sitting room was turned into a computer room and library.
The enrollment kept growing each year. When the Sulpicians took charge of the House in 2019 there were six students and two staff members. All the rooms were occupied, and two students shared a room. We had no room for a visitor, no room for a rector’s office, and no library. For this academic year (2021–2022), the diocese of Gaborone accepted four new students, which brings the total number in residence to ten students and two staff members. Given our present capacity, these four new students share a room.
Faced with such a situation, the St. Kizito community decided to be proactive. We began to prepare for another increase in the number of students in the 2022–2023 academic year. With the permission of Archbishop Frank Nubuasah of the diocese of Gaborone, we had a new wing constructed. The addition consists of six single rooms for students and two rooms for visiting formators. It has two ablution blocks and a laundry room. Attached to this new wing is a common bathroom for visitors and workers. This new construction gives us sixteen rooms: four rooms for staff members and visitors, and twelve rooms for students.
Even though the new wing gives us more rooms for students and visitors, the situation still does not make it easy to establish clear personal and professional boundaries that would be a good model for the diocesan priest. Neither the staff nor the students have private social space to gather, and staff and students are always crossing paths with each other. Looking ahead, we will need to create some space that could be strictly for members of staff to allow students to enjoy their own freedom and privacy.
We are grateful to Archbishop Frank for giving us the permission to make an extension to this house.
Cornelius Hankomoone, PSS