My recent meeting in Rome, January 9th-13th, with our General Council along with all the Provincials and the Delegate of Africa was an enriching mutual learning experience for me. Our Superior General solicited us to live and witness to our fraternal life in a renewed way by revisiting the priorities of the 7th General Consultation.
Fr. David Glenday, former Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries and the Secretary General of the Union of Superiors General touched upon four key words with respect to “interculturality:” 1. Experience: one’s own experience, family background and personal growth along with the missionary experience; 2. Charism of our founder so that none other than his experience of the spirit should be transmitted “our mission-ad gentes;” 3. Formation: promoting or stimulating an awareness of inter-cultural formation; creating a manifold perspective of entering into a “new world” feeling the call to go beyond by emptying oneself; 4. Together: we are not called to live alone but with others. Therefore, we should promote and encourage collaboration with other religious through mutual acquaintance and the sharing of charism as well as some shared experiences of charity.
Exchange of confreres: it is necessary to have an attentive discernment in the choice of the confrere and offering prior formation concerning one’s new mission. The receiving community should present a clear proposal of a project for which the confrere is expected to carry out. We also discussed how to promote missionary spirit and intercultural openness during the formative years.
Our works: the need for the closeness of the confreres with our poor and co-operation with the laity. We have to offer not only professional formation but also charismatic and pastoral formation.
New foundations: The aspects of dynamism of discernment, prudence and consolidation should be taken into consideration.
The formative commitment in the Congregation for different stages: the necessity of formation of the formators and supporting them to live and experience the Guanellian Charism and transmitting it to the formandi in a vibrant way. We also spent some time in analyzing the fragility and departing of some confreres.
Pastoral Vocations: great attention and sensibility in every community is needed and creating an environment of a “vocational culture.”
Reflection on the organization of the congregation: concerning the organization of Provinces and their geographic distribution, we need to raise awareness towards a better interprovincial collaboration.
The late, beloved Pope St. John Paul II indicates three borders that missionaries have to cross: people, groups and the socio-cultural context (Redemptoris Missio 33). Henceforth, plurality is not just a “matter of fact but a matter of principle.” Let us become a border-crossing person- across cultures, religions, genders, races-in order to embrace the life of the least and the lowly.