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CFC, Langata, Nairobi,
11 April, 2011

RE: LFB, Kenya response to your letter on Brother Formation Programme.

This is in response to your letter dated 14 March 2011, concerning Report on the SVD Brother Formation Programs in the Zone. At the very outset I must admit that we don’t have as yet an exclusive programme for brother formation in the province. Meantime, we are in the process of working out a Local Formation Manual for our province. The effort began many years ago. But I should admit that it has taken much of our time and energies and we are still far from completing it. For one, we don’t want to rush through it, since it is an important task, which is seen as a process. Further we are trying now to incorporate into the Manual the new vision proposed in the recent Generalate document on formation ‘Re-imagining the Pathways of our Common Vocational Journey’. We have had many sittings as the Local Formation Board (LFB). The basic outline and contents are ready but giving it finality is what taking our time.

Within the manual under consideration is a section that deals on Brother Formation. We all acknowledge that Brother Formation is a serious concern, more so in the context of dwindling number of brothers and vocations to brotherhood in the province and society as a whole. Our commitment to brother formation is total.

At the moment, we have 3 finally professed brothers in the Province – one expatriate from Germany and 2 locals. Meantime, we have one brotherhood candidate in Novitiate in Ghana and another candidate undergoing Postulancy programme in Nairobi.

Some Salient features of our formation programme regarding brotherhood candidates:

  • Sufficient information is given about brothers & their ministry during vocation promotion.

  • Candidates are helped to discern their vocation and make a choice to either brotherhood or priesthood during Postulancy time which lasts for one year. Both vocations are treated on par.

  • At the moment brother candidates are facilitated to do formation with clerical students until Novitiate.

  • The brotherhood candidates live in the same community with clerical students during Philosophy programme but pursue different academic programmes, suiting & befitting their Call. For example, the one and only candidate, currently doing Novitiate in Ghana, did a certificate course in Spirituality and Religious Formation for one year.

  • After novitiate, they are sent in for professional studies, depending on the need of the province, while taking into account the interest and talent of each candidate.

In a clerically dominated church like ours, where aspiring candidates are more exposed to the presence and work of the priests, it is a big challenge for us to make known about the vocation to brotherhood. Quite often many of the aspirants are not even aware of the possibility of a vocation to brotherhood. More efforts are needed on the part of the confreres in general and formation team in particular to promote brother vocations.

Fr. Mervin John Noronha, SVD
(Chairman, LFB, Kenya).