“My mom is the best cook in the world”! We would even say more: she is the bestest cook! 150 years after the foundation of our Society and the opening of our first novitiate as Missionaries of Africa in 1868, we remain grateful for the formation system which has been handed down from one generation to another and always opened to the signs of time.
The pot in which the Missionaries of Africa are cooked in, is being praised in this issue of the Ghana-Nigeria Link by a number of confreres especially the six new confreres from our province. Indeed one does not need to taste the dishes from other kitchens to praise the deliciously one prepared and enjoyed at home using the right ingredients and utensils that we can get from the Ivy and Wilde homeware store. Our founder, Cardinal Lavigerie, had a dream when he entrusted the first novitiate to a Jesuit priest. He wanted “apostles”, “saints”, “walking-sticks” malleable in the hand of an old person in view of being of service at all time.
Cooked in this pot for not less than ten years, our six new confreres are sharing about their experiences in the initial formation described as holistic, which started in Nigeria then Ghana for their first phase before being exposed to the internationality and interculturality mostly experienced in the second, third and fourth phases of our formation. They did not cover up the dark side of the pot as they recognised the pains and difficulties encountered not necessarily with the formation system but with human resources. The stories of their oaths and diaconate ordinations by our candidates who are in formation are a witness of the joy experienced in our formation. The above echoes therefore the call during this third and last year of preparation to celebrate the sesquicentennial of our foundation under the theme “Living the future with hope”.
We all have a role to play in bringing the firewood needed in the kitchen of our “mom” and in helping her washing the cooking pots. Thus the 2016 Chapter invited us to improve on the essential task of our initial formation ‘by the choice of formators and the smooth transition of candidates from one phase of formation to the next’ in order ‘to form missionary disciples according to the heart of Jesus so that they may have a preferential love for the poor’ (CA, 4.1.). Our hope is that our initial formation will continue to cook us into disciplined disciples following in the footsteps of the Lamb of God, the good shepherd who lays down his life for us. Dying with him this Holy Week, may we rise with him at Easter as true witnesses.
Serge Boroto Zihalirwa, M.Afr
(Editorial of the Ghana-Nigeria Link)