Two Divine Word Missionary priests: Fr. John Boevi, from Ghana and Fr. Augustine Chinnappan, from India, share their experience of the International Missionary Formation course, organised by the Maryknoll Missionary Centre, from the 6th to the 15th of July, 2016, in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The International Missionary Formation course, is a creative, serious and firm response to the requirements of formation, as recommended by the (Bishop's) Conference of Aparecida, for all Christian Catholic believers.
The course was organised by the Maryknoll Missionary Centre in the Casa de la Juventud (Youth house), located in the city of Cochabamba. There were 16 participants from different countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Spain, Slovakia, India and Ghana. The encounter was enriched by the diversity of cultures and the multicultural perspectives of the shared missions, based on the experience of each participant.
The objective of the course and its content was to generate space for a communitarian and personal formation in order to rethink and recreate the theology and missionary practice in Latin America. With the theme: "Behold, I am doing something new, now it springs up; do you not perceive it?...Is 43:19", an attempt was made at discerning the best way to revise our missionary experience, theology and practice, so as to recreate them from an option for a commitment to a life-giving mission.
The topics discussed and their respective facilitators were:
1. Mission that bursts forth from among the poor (Diego Sánchez and Franscisco Bosch from Argentina)
2. Mission in the midst of contexts, of contexts and of structures which are not life-giving (Raúl Miranda and José Luis López from Bolivia)
3. New perspectives that arise within present-day contexts (Alejandro Marina from Argentina and Carla Bazoalto from Bolivia)
4. Other perspectives on relationships among humans themselves, and between humans and nature (Adriana Curaqueo from Chile)
We had time to rethink, revitalize and re-discern our mission as religious missionaries, together with the laity. At the beginning of the course, we practiced meditation based on Labyrinth Spirituality to help us connect with the source of our mission. We explored new ways of looking through different lenses, through meditation, interaction, and sharing our experiences from the different contexts within which, guided by the Holy Spirit, we realize God's mission. The course focused on taking a look at nature, in a bid to redefine our anthropology. We are part of the earth and the earth is sacred. We must have a reciprocate relationship with all creatures.
For this reason, we meditated upon situations within our communities which are not life-giving, for example: discrimination, violence, destruction of nature, consumerism, and "an eyes closed" attitude (Lk 16:19-31). All this in order that we might be centred on the question of what we must do to bring change and transformation of life within our communities.
Some of the proposals and suggestions made are as follows: We must return to our roots, know our own histories, from whence have we come, where are we, and where are we going? Ask fundamental and concrete questions that relate us with our past, our present, and project us into the future with hope and eyes wide open.
The doors that can help us in this new vision are: The Word of God, our experiences and the links that arise from our relationships. To revitalize our mission, we must observe, look, listen and act. Every creature reflects and communicates the presence of God. We must look with God's eyes, eyes of compassion, love and mercy (Jn 4:4-26; 8:1-11, Lk 7:37).
We, as foreign missionaries, give thanks to God for this new experience, outlook and formation. May the Holy Spirit enlighten each one of us, so that we might fulfil our mission of being faithful witnesses, transforming and renewing the face of the earth. We must be reminded that we ourselves are of the earth. In the end, a renewed mission must have a relationship with all creatures, and rediscover that harmony and wealth of the earth. May she who sustains us and gives us life, re-examine and redefine our anthropology. Consequently, we are reconstructed and helped to recuperate the natural wisdom that is interconnected and relational. It is all in a bid to encourage us not to lose hope; the mission is not ours, it is God's and He is with us until the end of time. Let's move ahead with a new outlook, and the exhortation of the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, I am doing something new, now it springs up; do you not perceive it?..." (Is 43:19).
We give thanks to the Triune God for this opportunity to benefit from this course for it has helped us to reflect upon our mission, its dimensions and our commitment among the Bolivian people.
By: Fr. John Boevi, SVD and Fr. Augustine Chinnappan, SVD.
CBBA, Cbba, 16th July, 2016-Source: Frs. John Boevi, svd and Augustine Chinnappan, svd-Written by: Fr. Gustavo Jaimes, svd- Photos: Frs. John Boevi, svd and Augustine Chinnappan, svd