“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” Mk 6:31.
Indeed it was an experience of Oasis for all the young priests of the Province of Kristu Jyothi- India not only to relax but renew their Eucharistic mission. It was well organized by Father Provincial Superior who coordinated the entire program with his own unique zest. The programme was held at Retreat centre in Poondi near to the Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Poondi- Tanjore (Poondi is the name of a tiny village where Mary had appeared) in the southern part of India, on 19-21 of August 2019. After the Eucharistic celebration, the session was officially inaugurated by Fr. Provincial who highlighted the significance of the on-going formation in order to renew and rejuvenate oneself in the mission.
Totally eleven of us participated in the program. The program was for the religious of perpetually professed for five years and less. All of us namely Christopher, Dennis, Inigo, Jesuraja, Lazar, Martin, Rajesh Kumar, Ruban, Stephen Paul, Xavier Arockiaraj, and Moses, were happy to share their strength and limitations freely and their innovative initiatives be it in the field of pastoral or formation or mission areas. All were able to experience the spirit of the SSS family and to bless the Lord for his accompaniment to deepen the religious life. The sessions animated by Fr. Sebastian present Parish Priest of Budalur, and former president of Tamil Nadu biblical, catechetical and liturgical centre at Tindivanam, as well as Fr. Sebastian SSS, Former Parish Priest of Tembipada, energized and enthused all of us to listen to them and to interact with them effectively. Their pastoral experience blended with formation experience was indeed a boon to all the young religious of our province.
The session animated by Fr. Provincial on the life and ministry of the priest in the church and in our Congregation gave proper orientation to all. The Eucharistic Charism received from the Lord and lived out by our Holy Founder St. Peter Julian Eymard was the highlight in all the interactions during those two days.
The prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Celebration at the Shrine Basilica made the program of On-Going formation a successful, complete and memorable one. While everyone felt at home, the following are the suggestions to take into consideration in future; suggestions in the words of our religious:
- It is like a homecoming experience to cherish our memories with our companions. Gathering of this sort for us - the young religious - is need of the time and need to be continued. Days and Resource person can be increased.
- It is a very meaningful and boosting moment for me personally. I think we need these kinds of sharing and gathering once a year or once in two years.
- It was fruitful but the time was not sufficient. It can be three full days spaced out well with enough sharing.
- The one thing that touched me was being together as one family of SSS.
I like this aspect. But the days were not enough to mingle with one another. It can be at least a week or a minimum of five days.
- I was indeed happy to participate in this ongoing formation program.
For me, it was not only just a gathering of newly ordained SSS priests but it was an inspiring occasion to grow as one loving SSS family which prays and supports one another. This should be continued every year.
In short, it was Emmaus Experience to encounter and experience the Lord and to go back as men on fire. All the fathers are very grateful to all the Members of the Province especially Fr. Provincial and all our benefactors.
By Father Christopher Ephrem, sss