Divine Word Missionaries

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SVD Formation

International Formtors’ Course in English
April 28 - June 28, 2008

See Also: Homily by Fr. Konrad Keler

Text by Thomas Malipurathu, SVD
Photo by: Heinz Helf, SVD (Steyl)

The V International Formators’ Workshop concluded with a solemn Eucharistic celebration presided over by Vice General Fr. Konrad Keler on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at Nemi. The final day of the course coincided with the vigil of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which this year had a particular significance because it launched the Year of St. Paul, which marks the 2000th year of the birth of ‘the Apostle of the Nations’. In his stirring homily Fr. Keler made a special mention of the relevance of the commemoration for the commissioning of a group of formators, who were beginning a new phase of their mission after having gone through an intense period of renewal and reorientation.

The workshop started in Steyl on April 28th. The weeks spent there gave the participants an opportunity to have a close look at the life stories of the Founder and other stalwarts of the founding generation. The members of the Arnold Janssen Spirituality Centre and the Arnold Janssen Secretariat gave presentations on the early history of the Steyl foundations and conducted guided tours which helped the participants to enter into the spirit of the early years of the SVD, the SSpS and SSpSAP. This provided them a great learning experience, enabled them to gain insights for their future ministry as formators, and deepened their awareness of the history and charism of the Society. During this stay in Steyl they had an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Kaevelar (Marian Sanctuary), Goch (Arnold Janssen’s birthplace) and Issum (birth place of Blessed Hendrina Stenmanns—Mother Josepha) and to visit Sankt Augustin as well.

The journey to Nemi, the main venue of the course, was by bus. On the way there the group visited Ojes, the native village of Joseph Freinademetz. The time spent in Bressanone and Ojes was especially treasured because this pilgrimage took place in the centennial year of St. Joseph’s death in China.

The rest of the days spent at our International Renewal Centre at Nemi provided the participants an opportunity to shore up on various topics of relevance to their work as formators. Fr. Superior General and several other members of the generalate engaged them in sessions meant to familiarise them with different aspects of our life and work as an international community of missionaries. The participants themselves—hailing from 10 countries and missioned to 16 provinces/regions—shared with each other information about the formation situation in their respective provinces/regions.

The 24 confreres who participated in the workshop were unanimous in their opinion that the programme was a truly enlightening experience for them and that they were returning home with renewed commitment and enthusiasm to carry out the important task with which the Society has entrusted them. The course was ably conducted by Fr. Tony B. Pates, director of Nemi course; Fr. Joe Francis, spiritual director at Nemi; and Fr. Thomas Malipurathu, Generalate Secretary for Formation and Education.