Reflection on three years of formation
As the psalmist says, “…behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony…” (Psalm 133:1).
When anyone asks what I like in the Missionaries of Africa in my three years of formation in SOLA Study House, the first answer will be community life and the second will be the formators, who helped me to understand the depth and width of my vocation.
Though our community is mainly focused on studies in Philosophy, our formators have moulded a timetable giving equal importance to the essential aspects of formation like prayer, pastoral ministry, studies, community living and other important areas in the life of a candidate, which help the candidate make an integrated development in his personal life and his vocation journey.
Each vocation is unique, and each congregation has a unique charism, but I have always felt that call to be a Missionary of Africa is much more unique than others and a vocation that presents many challenges from the very beginning of our formation programme.
Over the past three years, I have learned that I am chiefly responsible for my own formation and nobody is forcing me to be like anyone else. There is freedom for each candidate to refine their unique personalities within the missionary vocation that each one has received. Through my years of formation, 1 have been helped to improve my level of confidence in various areas like studies, personal responsibility, inter-cultural / inter-national community living and so on.
A missionary vocation is a gift from God, and He forms each one accordingly. Through our formators, I have been helped and guided to deepen my understanding of what God wants of me.
Regular meetings with my Spiritual Companion helped me to evaluate myself from different perspectives. Our monthly recollections and annual retreat have been times for reflection and renewal. When linked with Ignatian spirituality, monthly encounters with the rector and gentle corrections from the members of staff, I have grown to be a better person.
Attending the African mass in the first Sunday of every month, which is something I cherish, when combined with quiz competitions and inputs about Africa and our Society have helped me to know more about Africa and its people. Through all of this, I have come to a deeper awareness of Africa and its people and now have African friends in Bangalore.
My different, weekend pastoral ministries have helped me to better understand the realities of life being faced by people around us, as well as deepening my understanding of what it means to be a servant of God. I felt challenged by these experiences and was gradually able to enter the life of those to whom I was sent. It was a great lesson.
Learning French has been one of the great difficulties I have had. Learning a new language is not, for me, an easy thing to do, but with the constant support of the formation team and our confreres who know French it has given me the courage to move forward.
Team life is also an activity to be appreciated and has helped me in many ways both as an individual and on my vocation journey.
Following in the footsteps of Cardinal Lavigerie in the African world is a unique and challenging call. My experiences in formation in SOLA Study House have been positive and reassuring. I feel I have been well-formed to face the challenges as I move forward. I have been very happy to have been part of a community knitted with love and focused on Christ and I thank all my formators and others who have helped me to be where I am today.
SOLA Study House – Bangalore
From SOA Newsletter – January 2020