The Online Gathering of Formandi in India

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(India) ‘One in Mind and Heart’; this is how Fr. Jerry, from RYVM, Majella described the three-day event that took place from 21st to 23rd May. It was indeed a historic gathering since for the first time such a gathering was conducted in online mode and included the formandi from all three units in India. The gathering was hosted by the RYVM of the Vice-Province of Majella and had 60 participants, including formators and young Fathers of the three Units in India.

The Formees Gathering, as it is called, is an annual event that happens before the start of the academic year in June. However, this year the gathering was to be canceled on account of the rise in the Covid 19 cases in India making travel very risky. Our country, for the last few months, has been truly reeling under the pain caused by the pandemic and government apathy. In this grim situation, the urgency to gather as a Redemptorist family to equip ourselves for the Mission was felt even more deeply. It was this need that led us to focus on the Theme, “Preaching the Gospel ever anew: Online Ministry, An Advanced Pulpit”.

The Gathering began with Fr Ivel Mendanha, our Vice-Provincial, addressing and welcoming the participants. He reminded us of our Alphonsian legacy, of being people-centric, dynamic, and flexible for Mission. Fr. Biju Madhatikunnel, the Provincial of the Liguori Province, and Fr. Charles Vijay, the Director of Redemptorist Media Commission in Bangalore, the resource persons, enlightened the participants on the themes; Advanced Pulpit- Online Ministry the New Normal and Creative Ministry Online/The Use of Social Media for Evangelization respectively.

The sessions helped us to understand the mind-boggling possibilities for creative ministry that are available through social media. Fr. Velson and Fr. Jerry from RYVM, Majella addressed the practical dimensions of online ministry namely; Content Creation-Basics in Scripting a Session, Interview, Video Messages, Videography, and Photography-Basic Techniques and Rules and Equip the Called-Upgrading Ourselves with Necessary Tools and Apps. Though separated by distance, we stayed true to the Redemptorist spirit, of combining learning with fun and games, and prayer, with true regard for community living and sharing.

The challenges to host this gathering were immense. As organizers, we were separated from one another, each locked up in our communities. The heavy cyclonic storms, Tauktae, that hit the western coast of India on the 16th and 17th of May had disrupted internet connectivity and electrical lines. But in all this, the guiding and assuring hand of the Lord was always present. It was indeed a faith journey for us, in the RYVM, as we saw the Lord opening doors as we went about organizing this gathering with one mind and heart. We remain indebted to our Major Superiors who placed their trust in us and encouraged us in every way.

The Gospels speak about the Risen Lord who appeared behind locked doors and gave the apostles the Mission to go to the ends of the earth. This experience of being together despite the lockdown has made present to us, the Risen Lord in our midst while Online Ministry has offered us possibilities that would take us to the ends of the earth. 

Melroy Correa, C.Ss.R.

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