To All Jesuits and Collaborators in the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM)

To All Jesuits and Collaborators in the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM)

The Formation Assembly of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, held in Nairobi from the 8 to 14 December 2019, brought together participants engaged in all levels of formation. This important event provided a platform for major superiors, formators, delegates of formation, scholastics, brothers in formation, as well as lay collaborators, to discuss the current implementation of formation across the Conference and changes required for the future. We were blessed to have with us the Regional Assistant of Father General for Africa (Fr Fratern Masawe SJ), as well as Father General’s Counsellor for Formation (Fr Mark Ravizza SJ). This combination of groups permitted a range of input into the formation process.

The schedule drafted by the Planning Committee enabled us to delve deeply into the different dimensions of formation. There were presentations in the morning sessions, which allowed us to explore certain topics with thought-provoking input from dynamic speakers. The afternoon sessions were dedicated to spiritual conversation in small groups, prayerfully discussing the input of the morning and its relevance for our formators and Jesuits in formation.

The morning sessions dealt with such topics as the current context of formation and the challenges ahead, in the light of the Universal Apostolic Preferences; identity and mission of formators and Jesuits in formation; and exploring creative ways of fulfilling the mission of formation in late-modern society. We also had input from lay collaborators on themes such as the challenges to formation provided by certain economic philosophies, and the lay expectations of Jesuits in formation.

The afternoon sessions were animated by a spirit of communal discernment, listening to what the Spirit was saying to the group, and enabled us to assimilate prayerfully the implications of the week’s discussions for formation. At the end of every afternoon, the feedback from the groups was presented in plenary sessions, giving us a deeper idea of how the Spirit had been moving in every group.

The following major themes emerged from the process: a personalised formation for each Jesuit, as he explores his vocation and responds to God’s invitation in the Society of Jesus; the collaboration between the Provinces/Regions of the Conference, as well as the input of lay collaborators into the formation process, are essential; making houses of formation conducive to formators, who need to receive the necessary training for their mission; men in formation need to deepen their sense of Jesuit identity as they proceed with their probation, understood as a process of transformation and conversion for mission, guided by the Universal Apostolic Preferences. In addition, other suggestions focussed on enculturating simplicity of life in Jesuits, providing psychological support for Jesuits in formation and for formators, as well as encouraging peer support in formation houses. The week culminated in a series of orientations for different aspects of formation.

This meeting was a moment of grace for JCAM, its formators and formation programmes. The momentum created by the meeting needs to be maintained. To this end, I have mandated the Planning Committee, led by Fr. John the Baptist Anyeh-Zamcho SJ, to further discern the pertinent orientations and outcomes of the Assembly in order to design a concrete plan and a creative process to successfully implement the necessary renewal and changes to our formation programme. For this task they will be joined by two long-term collaborators, Mrs. Catherine Waiyaki (Secretary of World CLC/CVX) and Dr. David Kaulem (Professor of Philosophy at Arrupe Jesuit University, Harare, Zimbabwe).

I thank all those whose hard work and generosity made the Formation Assembly a success and renewing experience for the participants. For more detailed information on the proceedings of the week, consult the JCAM website: https://www.jesuits.africa/2019-06-17-13-37-39/formation-assembly-news

Yours in Christ’s mission,

Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ

President

Please follow this {LINK} to see the official message from the JCAM president

For the French PDF click HERE!

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