Dakar welcomed with open arms and heart the Spiritan Formators coming from the four corners of the earth: 32 in all, accompanied by the Superior General and four members of the Generalate, the Provincial and some PANO con-freres, invited speakers and translators. The meeting is taking place at La Pouponnière Center of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary (FMM), with Fathers Bede Ukwuije, João Dimba and Florentine Mallya of the Generalate in Rome as the organizers.
This meeting follows the Spiritan tradition of holding a meeting of formators before the General Chapters. The last meetings were held in Paris (2002) and Nairobi (2010).
The meeting began with the welcome on June 24th. The opening session was marked by the presence of Fr. John Fogarty (Superior General), Fr. Moïse Camara (Provincial of PANO), Fr. Bede Ukwuije (1st Assistant General), Fr. João Dimba (General Councilor) and Fr. Florentine Mallya (Coordinator for Formation and Education). Fr. Bede outlined the objectives of the meeting and the methodology to be followed. Essentially, the formators are evaluating the implementation of the Guide for Spiritan Formation (GSF) and seeking to bring out what can and should be adjusted in the formation programme. And, finally, to elaborate proposals to be made to the 2020 General Chapter. The method to be followed is the classic ‘See, Judge and Act’.
In the ‘See’, there are moments of sharing experiences that each formator brings from the formation community where he works, underlining the strengths, but also the challenges experienced in his Province, Group or Union. The ‘Judge’ section will entail reflecting on the inputs given by invited speakers who will talk on specified areas concerning formation. In the “act”, the Meeting will make recommendations for the 2020 General Chapter.
Words of the Superior General
In his keynote speech, Fr. John Fogarty, Superior General, identified a number of relevant issues and challenges facing formation today. He began by saying that the future of the Congregation is in the hands of formators. He acknowledged that it is a very difficult mission because the confreres involved in formation are few, they change a lot, they are overburdened with other tasks and the material resources are also often insufficient. Formators have an added responsibility because they have been chosen for their talents and formation and, therefore, much is expected and demanded of them. Building fraternal relationships and a strong spirituality is always a demanding challenge, more important than technical and academic formation.
The Superior General further said that the new generation needs a formation of excellence. It is necessary to eval-uate with courage and clarity the GFS and to invest in integral formation of the candidates, discouraging tenden-cies of clericalism that only generates arrogant missionaries. It is necessary to invest in formation that will help candidates to develop a simple and fraternal lifestyle, with great closeness and sensitivity to the poorest and most vulnerable of our societies, in tune with Laudato Si.
He also observed that we must confront the many weaknesses which mark our formation, helping everyone to as-similate a vision of Spiritan formation stipulated in the documents of the Congregation.
Coming from the four corners of the world, the list shows the richness of an enormous diversity: Anthony Trinh Le (Vietnam), Ephrem Rakotonirina (Madagascar), Evarist Shayo (Tanzania), Jeanrilus Excellus (Haiti), John Helu (Ghana), Marcellinus Obi (Nigeria, Gabon), Mariano Espinoza (Paraguay), Maturin Sadio (Senegal), Oliver Onah (Nigeria), Ordean dos Santos (Brazil), Webster Chifuwe (Zambia, Malawi), Boniface Agbo (Nigeria), Stafford Mayau-la (Zambia), Christopher Promis (USA), Cletus Ekwezia (Nigeria), Deus Tarimo (Tanzania), Frédéric Rossignol (Belgium, Vietnam), Nito Chatulica (Angola), Séraphin Jaomila (Madagascar, Mauritius), Yves-Isidore Nzoussi (Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon), Zacharie Ndione (Senegal, Guinea-Conakry), Adalberto Ferezini (Brazil), Chistophe Kpwama (Cameroon), Damasceno dos Reis (Portugal), David Atuanya (Nigeria), Gerard Nnamunga (Uganda, Ken-ya), Gregory McLawrence (Trinidad and Tobago), Jean-Claude Angoula (Cameroon, Senegal), António Matias (Angola), Krzsztof Ferenc (Poland), Manuel Bumba Gaiola (Angola, France) and Paul Venance Ntambwe (Congo Kinshasa).
The organizing team has invited the following speakers to address specific topics:
- Dominic Nnoshiri: Pastoral Relationships: Safeguarding of Minors and Vulnerable Adults;
- Manuel Bumba Gaiola: Psychology in Formation: Accompaniment and Assessments;
- Bede Ukwuije: Connecting the Guide for Spiritan Formation with Ratio fundamentalis (2016) and New Wine in New Wineskins (2017);
- Louison Bissila Mbila and Florentine Mallya: Interreligious Dialogue;
- Tony Neves: Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC);
- Anthony Afaako: Use of Modern day Technology and Social Media in Initial Formation;
- Bernard Hounnougbo SJ: Training in Leadership, Management Skills and Self-Reliance in Initial Formation.
Until July 5th …
The Meeting will run until July 5th, with an intense and varied programme. In addition to the work in the plenary and in groups, a Sunday of immersion in the pastoral reality of the parishes entrusted to the Spiritans in Dakar is planned, as well as a historical visit to the Island of Gorée, one of the infamous exit doors of African slaves who were taken to America and Europe.
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