KEEPING THE FLAME BURNING

d) “KEEE” (KEs) in the formation of formators: I lift this idea from the Diocesan Marriage and Family Life Apostolate which I superintend in the Diocese and for the Church in Nigeria as a consultor. For the training of trainers in the Family and Human Life Apostolate, we emphasize for those undergoing training at the Third Level the “KEES”, an acronym for: “Knowledge, Experience, Example, and Exposure”. I propose the same to you mutatis mutandis for the formation of formators in the Institute of the EHJ Sisters. Under the sub-heading “Careful Choice and Solid Preparation of Formators”, the 1998 Vatican Instruction for Religious states that “Major Superiors should offer the formators programs and opportunities which assure the necessary theological and pedagogical formation, spiritual formation, competence in the human sciences, and specific training on the tasks to be carried out on the journey of formation” (Instruction, Inter-Institute Collaboration for Formation: Dec. 8, 1998, no. 24). Let me add here that our Religious Institute should ever have a ready legion of trained formators, “a pool of choices” to draw from and send on this delicate and important apostolate.

e) Structural response to the call of New Evangelization (SAP). To the multifarious challenges of modernism and post-modern culture, the Church responds with “New Evangelization” – one that is “new in its ardor, methods and expression”.1  The adjective “new” in this term refers to “a cultural situation which has changed and the need for the Church, with renewed energy, determination, resourcefulness and newness, to look at the way she lives and transmits the faith”.2 It is true that we have to be faithful to the spiritual patrimony of our Institute (CIC: can. 578); at the same time, we cannot be indifferent to this clarion call of New Evangelization, but respond decisively and structurally without doing injury to the original intention of our Founder. To go about this delicate task, I propose to you what I call SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme). By this term, I mean a re-invigorating and a re-structuring that goes back to the most basic and constitutional elements of your religious congregation. Such fundamentals usually allow for wide interpretation of your spirit, charism and apostolate to accommodate some of the demands of the New Evangelization. Take for instance, a congregation whose charism is “caring for the poor and the needy”; and so, has been involved in the care of the most destitute in the society – the orphans, homeless, and the abandoned. New challenges of the New Evangelization may allow for a wider understanding of the term “the poor and the needy” to include the “intellectually poor” who have to be given adult or formal education, “the poor in the faith” who have to be catechized, and “the socially poor” who have to be helped to seek legal justice, and so on. This is what the Church requires of you in “constantly developing the charism of your founder in harmony with the Body of Christ as you try to cultivate your identity in a “creative fidelity” (Instruction, ‘Inter-Institute Collaboration for Formation’: no. 7.1; also, Pope John PauL II. Vita Consecrata: no. 37).

f) “FROM ME TO US”: Supporting individual Sisters to support the Congregation. It is important to realise that all the tasks and apostolate highlighted above are to be carried out by free and conscious Sisters of body and soul, of flesh and blood, of different temperaments and characters, and with their personal strengths and weaknesses. We can only circumvent this basic anthropological truth at our own detriment. We must, therefore, really come to terms with this human factor even as carry out a divine mission; and so, seek to meet the basic and comfort needs of our individual Sisters so that they can generously and cheerfully offer themselves for the common mission of the Institute. The Post Conciliar Document ‘Fraternal Life in the Community’, building on Vatican Council II’s Perfectae Caritatis (1965) states under the sub-heading ‘From Me To Us’ that “we must continue to seek a just balance, not always easy to achieve, between the common good and respect for the human person, between the demands and needs of individuals and those of the community, between personal charisms and the community apostolate” so that an even passage can take place from me to us, that is, from my commitment to the commitment entrusted to the community (Fraternal Life in Community: Feb. 2, 1994, no. 39). This requires, inter alia: not overstretching the Sisters in multiple assignments and apostolates; just allowance to meet their “basic” and “comfort” needs; and occasional incentives from the community, workplace and the Generalate (Okun inu saa la fi ngbe ti ita – It is the internal strength that is used to effect external commitment). This is not to say that we have forgotten the “spirit of sacrifice” at the foundation of our Institute and Life, but to recognize a truth that is even more foundational, namely that “the Church is both human and divine” (Sacrosanctum Concilium: no. 2), and that this human factor will definitely come to play at one time or the other; hence, the need to meet its need as much as is within our means.

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