Life in the spiritual year (Kasama)
When I was in the Philippines preparing to go to Africa, I had no doubt that my Spiritual Year would be a good year. It truly was quite an unforgettable moment in my life. When I arrived in Zambia in September 2018, I was so happy. The place was so beautiful and the people so friendly. I realized, after interacting with them, that their cultures and traditions are not very different when compared to my own: friendly people, respectful of elders, the style of singing and dancing, the love for celebrations and, most importantly, the strong faith of the people towards God. For me, given all the facts it was really a fruitful year.
In my community, I was lucky to live with people from ten different nationalities. I learned many things from them: their cultures, traditions, countries and many such things. In the beginning, I had to make a lot of adjustments. There were times when I found myself quarreling, shouting, throwing heavy words and being misunderstood by them. There, we realized we have to love and to help each other as brothers. I could say that because of them I developed a good backbone, a person ready to be sent anywhere and ready to be part of the mission of Christ in Africa. The formators also contributed greatly for my growth. I was grateful to have them, especially my Spiritual Companion. They challenged me gently on my weaknesses and the things that I needed to change about my behavior. I am happy that I managed at least to face them and am so thankful to my formators for my growth.
The sessions we had, the pastoral assignment every weekend, the immersion experience and the daily routine helped me tremendously. The sessions helped me to know more about myself, our founder, our Society, the Church, etc. My pastoral assignments helped me to have direct contact with the people outside our compound and reminded me that I am a Missionary of Africa. My immersion experience was my opportunity to actualize and concretize all I learned from the sessions. I was able to work with people coming from different religions with whom we made a good community, bearing the goal of the well-being of the people of God. I also loved our daily routine, full of reflections about myself and my relationship with God, His plan for me and who I am for Him. During our retreats, recollections and reflections, my heart discovered that God loves me so much without any conditions and has great plans for me.
My spiritual year was full of God’s grace. I feel so lucky and thankful to God for giving me such an experience. I had a good community and excellent formators. I met very friendly and generous people. I experienced unforgettable moments: the official Entry into the Society, the Reception of the Gandourah, Burnous and the Rosary, the Retreat of Election, the Declaration of Intent and the Reception of the Ministry of Reader. All these wonderful moments were the graces of God for me and expressed His love for me. Everything I have is a result of His Grace and I am forever thankful to Him.
At the end of our Spiritual Year, when I left the Spiritual Formation Centre in Kasama I told myself that, “I miss this place, the silence and my brothers”. Indeed, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I remember Fr. Paul Johnston, my rector in the First Phase saying, “95% of formation is from within and only 5% is contributed by formators”. I now see this is true.
My Spiritual Year experience in Kasama was a very special year for me. It changed my views on life, enlightened me more about God, gave me right direction on the life that I decided to live to and enlightened me more about our Founder and our Society. Moreover, I learned so many practical things. For me I can express my Spiritual Year experience in these words: It was very fruitful, full of growth about myself and full of God’s grace.
Andy Deala from the Philippines
From SOA Newsletter – January 2020