Rome, Thursday, August 18, 2011
We Comboni Formators and Vocations Promoters from the English speaking Provinces of Africa and Mozambique (APDESAM) are gathered here at Subiaco Centre of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Karen, Nairobi, (Kenya) together with the Secretary General of Basic Formation and Vocation Promotion, Fr. John Baptist Keraryo Opargiw, and a team of facilitators from the Central Commission for Ongoing Formation, for a three-week – August 8-28, 2011 – long Continental Formation Meeting.
We are 23 confreres (21 Priests and 2 Brothers) and of 13 different nationalities: 8 Ugandans, 3 Kenyans, 2 Benineses, 1 Costa Rican, 1 Italian, 1 Mexican, 1 Sudanese, 1 South Sudanese, 1 Malawian, 1 Eritrean, 1 Ethiopian, 1 Togolese and 1 South African. Our average age is 43.61.
The workshop started at 20.00 hours (EAST) after supper on Monday, August 8, 2011 with an opening prayer and address by Fr. Joseph Maina, the Provincial Superior of Kenya. He emphasized the importance of the meeting as an opportunity for ongoing formation in order to improve the quality of our vocations and formation service, thus ensuring the ‘sanctity and competence’ of the Comboni Institute. He invited the participants to feel at home and enjoy the hospitality of Kenya.
The Secretary General of Formation (SGF) in his brief speech, thanked all present for accepting the invitation to participate in the Continental Formation Meeting. He also reiterated the importance of the vocations and formation ministry in which all confreres should feel involved. He further reminded the participants of the fact that this subcontinent is historically and geographically the cradle of the Comboni charism and mission. This is both a privilege and a challenge, hence the invitation to us all to brace ourselves for action and to “deliver the goods” in faithfulness to our ancestors in faith and mission. Assured of the prayerful communion with the confreres and indeed with the whole Comboni Institute, the SGF declared the Continental Formation Meeting - Nairobi 2011 officially opened. Thereafter we had a moment of agape.
On Tuesday, August 9, the two morning sessions were facilitated by two young ladies from Nairobi (one a journalist and the other counsellor) who talked on the theme entitled ‘Youth and the Church’. They gave a broad outline of the situation of the present day youth, their own expectations and the expectations of the society on them and the challenges involved. In an interactive manner, they helped us to draw a long list of initiatives that the Church can embark on in order to better meet the needs of the present day youth so that they would feel at home in the Church, thus preventing their mass exodus to more attractive places.
Meanwhile the two afternoon sessions of the same day were facilitated by Fr. Siro Stocchetti and Fr. Elias Sindjalim Essognimam. They introduced us into the workshop proper by explaining the organization of the three-week long Continental Formation Meeting. The first two weeks will be dedicated to the ongoing formation of the participants as Comboni educators. The central theme of this ongoing formation is the “Educative Model of Integration”, in line with the explicit request of the General Chapter 2009 (see CA ‘09, 100). Other topics we shall treat include personal accompaniment in formation and the spiritual life of the formators and vocations promoters.
The third week of the workshop will be dedicated to the Continental Formation Assembly with the following focal points: sharing our experiences in vocations promotion and postulancy formation; contextualizing the Educative Model of Integration; a look at Lusaka 2004 and Layibi 2007: continuity, evaluation and the way forward; elaborating some common criteria and policy in view of a Sub-continental Vocations and Formation Charter.
We have just concluded the first week and we can testify that so far our Continental Formation Meeting has moved on with the full and enthusiastic participation of all present. It is indeed a moment of grace, of growth, of prayer and of fraternal communion, which we hope will enable us go back better prepared to serve our Circumscriptions, the Institute, the Church and the entire world as “holy and capable” Comboni Missionaries in the Third Millennium.
Wednesday, 17 August 2011