ASPAC FORMATION WORKSHOP
Ledalero, 7 – 11 Augustus 2007
Theme: Missionary Formation
On behalf of Fr. Woi, the Provincial of Ende, I welcome you all to the province and to Ledalero, our formation center. In a particular way we welcome our distinguished guests, formators, representing all formators in the Asia Pacific zone: confreres from Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, PNG, Australia, India, and confreres from our four Indonesian provinces.
We gather here on the occasion of our zonal formation workshop to find some quiet place and time, to work on some intensive studies, to review and to reflect on what we have done in the past years concerning our formation, on what we are doing at present and on what we will be doing in the future.
In all these efforts we all acknowledge all kinds of concerns, challenges and difficulties. Through this workshop we would share our experiences and our weaknesses and strengths as well, and try to enrich and enhance each other in the formation as one of our priorities in the society. With our openness to God’s will and to the word of God, and by the guidance of the holy spirit, we believe that we will be able to manage our formation in the society, which is characterized by our society’s charisms: being religious and missionary. May our good Lord send his holy spirit to be with us in this eucharistic celebration and throughout our busy-days of workshop.
Let us pause awhile, presenting all our needs and concerns to God, calling to mind all our sins and shortcomings and ask God for pardon and strength.
Homily: Readings: Rom 10:9-15; Luke 10:38-42
If we look at the vocation map of our society we see that: there are parts of the world that hardly have any vocation or the number of vocation decreases steadily, while in other parts of the globe, like our own in the Asia-Pacific zone, the number of vocation increases or at least for a number of years shows some very good impression. This is actually one of our lights or strengths in the zone.
However, the big concern that challenges us all the time is how we manage the recruitment and the formation of our so many young confreres; how we prepare our formators who really dedicate their time and energy, their life and services for the formandi? And how all of us in the formation house show up ourselves to be really formators? How we manage and take care of this huge number of students qualitatively and takes it as our great and first responsibility in our religious society?
Moreover, how we train and prepare them to be good religious, priest and missionary in accordance with the expectation of the church, the people of God in general and the society in particular? There are still some of the many questions that challenge us all the more in our formation houses everywhere.
Thank God that these very concerns become our common concerns in the society today. We all speak about the same thing, we all have more or less the same expectation. At the last general chapter, we discussed a lot about our formation in the society, especially the swollen number of formandi in our area and all kinds of difficulties and concerns behind it. I remember that after presenting some difficulties that we are facing in Indonesia, several provincials spontaneously asked us to send some of our seminarians to their provinces (say for example Jan Szweda (PNG), Edwards Sergio (China), and Tim Norton (of Australia), and some others. Now we are glad that more and more provincials are asking for some seminarians either to do their further studies or to take their OTPs in their provinces. This is a very good sign how we as SVDs take the responsibility as concerned with formation in our society. This is also one of the promising signs in the society how we as SVDs share our common concerns and challenges as well.
Our readings that we just heard give us some spiritual guidelines of how we would manage our religious and missionary formation, as the theme of our workshop.
· The letter to the Romans shows us that the very foundation of our service is Jesus, the Christ, the word-made man. He is the Lord, the Kyrios, the one who died and then rose from the dead and lives among us. The more basic message of the letter to the Romans is that we, as Christians, not only live in our hearts but we must also confess with our lips and attitudes. The confession involves of course our witness to mankind, our witness to the world. In order for us to come to believe and to confess there should be some other ways and preconditions for this. As the letter to the Romans says:
“How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news;”
Being formators, we are one of the preconditions prescribed in this letter to the Romans.
Our gospel reading today tells us about Martha and her sister Maria, describing the two different temperaments of mankind. Some people are naturally very dynamic and active and others are naturally quiet. It is hard for the active person to understand the person who sits and contemplates. And the person who is devoted to quiet times and meditation is apt to look down on the person who would rather be active. There is no right or wrong in this. God did not make everyone alike. Both are serving God. God needs his Marys and his Marthas, too.
The problem there is just a wrong type of kindness shown by Martha, the very active woman. As we know, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, to suffer and die. His whole being was taken up with the intensity of the inner battle to bend his will to the will of God. When he came to that home in Bethany, it was a great day. And Martha was eager to celebrate it by laying on the best the house could give. So she rushed and fussed and cooked. And that was precisely what Jesus did not want. All he wanted was quiet. With the cross before him and with the inner tension in his heart, he had turned aside to Bethany to find an oasis of calm, away from the demanding crowds if only for an hour or two. And that is what Mary gave him and what Martha, in her kindness, did her best to destroy. It was simply that Mary understood and that Martha did not.
In our formation, along with our profetic dialogue that characterized our SVD presence and missions today, we certainly need the activity and contemplation as well. Our missionary service and contemplation or the prayer life should go together. Our religious and prayer life, on one hand should be our basis, our fundament which animates our activities (otherwise it will lead to activism) and our missionary life and activities on the other hand should enrich and enhance our prayer and religious life.
My dear confreres,
We pray in this holy eucharist that the holy spirit be our guiding spirit that leads and guides us during these busy days of workshop and for the long term the same spirit keeps guiding us that we may be able to sacrifice and dedicate ourselves to the missionary and religious formation. May God our good shepherd grant us with his many graces and blessings that lead us to our true religious and missionary formation for the wellbeing of the church and of our own religious society in the service of God and his people.
Konrad Kebung, SVD
Ledalero, Selasa, 07-08-07