Missionaries of Africa
Stagiaires' Meeting :
12th -16th February 2007
At International Spiritual Centre (ISC) VILLA WANGA
All the stagiaires of the province arrived in Woodlands from their respective place of stage where we spent a short time interacting and getting acquainted to each other. Then, together with Fr Christopher Chileshe, the Coordinator for the stagiaires in the province, moved to Villa Wanga (ISC) where the meeting was supposed to take place.
At Arcades Shopping centre L-R: Alfred, Patrice, Saju, Faustin, Ange, Bipin, Christopher, Prosper
Present for the meeting were
Prosper HARELIMANA (Rwanda 1st year) and Patrice SAWADOGO RAYIMWENDE ( Burkina 2 year) from Kabwata Parish-Lusaka;
Alfred AWOGYA (Ghana 1st year) and Ange NANGI MAWETE (RDC 2 year) from Namushakende Parish-Mongu;
Faustin KERUMBE WEDUNG'A (RDC 1st year) and Bipin LAKRA (India 2 year) from Nyimba Parish- Chipata
and Saju AKKARA (India 2 year) form St Peter's Parish- Serenje.
Upon arriving, (12th) we spent the first evening trying to come-up with a programme/timetable and other details of the meeting. There was also a moment for brief introduction of each person present.
The morning of the first day (13th) was dedicated to a spirit moving recollection animated by Fr Christopher Chileshe around the theme: How do I see my vocation as a Missionary of Africa in the light of the creation story in Gen 1:24-31. His sharing drew to our awareness to the uniqueness of God's creation especially man and woman: Let us create a man in our own image. He shed light that it is from the uniqueness of each person that we meet God- that even other things flow. Thus, an invitation to look after the creation of God, to look after each other and every thing around us responsibly.
The session of sharing which was somehow the main focus of the meeting started in the afternoon of the first day. Christopher opened the floor, followed by Faustin, Prosper, Patrice, Alfred, Saju, Ange and Bipin. Each person shared about his background, early childhood; vocation and formation history and about the experience of stage.
After a long moment of sharing and listening, the whole group treated themselves to going to the cinema on Wednesday evening. We watched the movie entitled ''Blood Diamond''. All of us seemed to have been moved by the story of the sad consequences of civil war in Siera Leone, somehow due to the diamond deposits they have.
We had an input from Fr Bernard Udelhoven on Thursday morning on culture. The input aimed at helping us to fully understand the numerous cultural aspects of the people with whom we live and work with. Each stagiaire shared their own culture discoveries, experiences and shocks. Below are some striking cultural points:
- The Lozi culture has an irreplaceable place for respect in their culture accompanied by many gestures like clapping and spitting.
- The Lozis also express or have overwhelming respect for the Litunga, the paramount chief. He wields more power and authority than the political local system.
- Discovery that people sit down when the Gospel is being read.
- Local culture has great place for all sorts of greetings: morning, afternoon, evening, night, in times of funerals etc.
- People, even the old people greet while kneeling.
- Strong sense of initiation for the girls.
- People eat various foods (caterpillars etc).
- The local language is full of parables and wise sayings.
- The mood of funerals and the way they are conducted.
- Families welcome people nicely, may offer food but not water. Water has to be asked for.
- Collecting or giving things by the left hand.
- The type of toilets.
After listening to all these experiences, Fr Bernard put them into perspective and invited especially the first years stagiaires to delve deep into different aspects of the lives of the people and to choose one aspect to write about. He gave some hand notes as guide.
The afternoon of the last day (15th) was dedicated to talking about practical points and listening to the news from the Province. Different practical points were discussed:
- Reports: the 2nd report must be ready and handed over by 1st of April. The first report must also be ready by June or July and must not be delayed until time of writing the second report.
- Allowance: the ball was thrown to the stagiaires to show somehow that allowance is not enough for their personal up-keep by making an outline of their expenditures for one month to help the financial committee to assess the situation.
- Holidays: second year Stagiaires had great moment together in Livingston. The province in terms of transport money supported them. The first year should collaborate, reach a decision and inform Fr Christopher. They should be free however to decide to have a personal holiday or as a group.
- Driving: the issue of obtaining a driving licence should be discussed in the community and stagiaires should make use and appreciate the willingness and generosity of confreres who wish to help in giving some lessons in the parish.
Christopher briefed us on different issues in the Province (news from the province):
- Visit of Richard B. to Malawi in April.
- Balaka Major Seminary
- Justice and Peace
- Kolibo Centre
- Lua-Luo Spiritual Centre-Kasama
- Faith and Encounter Centre.
- Catholic University
We spent the evening of Thursday evaluating the meeting and the following were noted:
- Through sharing we lent a lot. Each one of us felt good in sense that he was listened to by his brothers who were really attentive.
- The place of the meeting was quiet and conducive for the meeting.
- We enjoyed the new released movie, which was enriching and educative.
- We came to realise that by sharing we discovered news ways of approaching our apostolic life. We discovered that we all face challenges. We learnt how many face them.
- The recollection was well animated and we were spiritually fed.
- A word of thanks was given to the organising committee for having accepted the evaluation of the last stagiaires meeting.
- We had enough time for sharing and the program for the meeting was given on time which allowed us to prepare it.
- The initiative of sitting down and make our own time table was appreciated.
- We enjoyed the input of Fr Bernard on the cultural aspect of stage.
- We discovered the richness of our diversity and it was time to discover one another especially for the first year stagiaires.
- However food sometimes was not enough and next time we need to improve on liturgy.
A simple yet very entertaining party followed the evaluation. Friday was a day to relax. Gotthard joined us and together we spent the day relaxing at PARAYS GAME RANCH in the total move of picnic-ing. Praise the Lord for such wonderful moment.