A second novitiate experience in the South Asian conference

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Preparation for the Perpetual Profession at St. Clement’s Study House, Vadavathoor (April 27 –May 25, 2014)

For those of us who were visiting Kerala for the first time it was soon very clear why Kerala is referred to as “God’s own Country”. Everywhere we go there is lush greenery, refreshing rivers and lakes, churches and shrines, and most of all the industrious and hospitable people. For the 14 of us, we were not here primarily to discover Kerala but to journey deeper into ourselves and our relationship with God so as to strengthen our vocation to the Redemptorist way of life. The quiet and scenic ambience surrounding the Redemptorist house at Vadavathoor makes it a good location for the purpose. Moreover, the Fathers and Brothers of the community have overwhelmed us with their hospitality which made us feel at home. Fr. Sahaya Arockiasamy, of the General Secretariat of Formation had also organized the schedule for us well in advance.

In the first week, Fr. Amar Bagh, a professional counselor, gave us inputs on psycho-spiritual formation. Through his classes he gave us an insight into how our earliest life experiences shape our stances towards life in the Redemptorist community. Fr. Sahaya also took classes on the Alphonsian method of meditation and the values stressed during Redemptorist formation.

During the second week, Fr. Michael Naickanparampil, our very own scripture scholar, took four classes on the theology of religious life from a scriptural perspective. We felt privileged to learn from the experience of this great confrere who inspires us with his zeal for sacred scripture even after his retirement from teaching in the seminary. In that same week, Fr. Sahaya took classes on the Communicandas issued by the General Government over the last twenty years and also on the implications of the conference model of restructuring. Through these we came to know how the Congregation has evolved its outlook towards the world and its mission over the years. We became aware that we were joining an international congregation that required of us a missionary spirituality of availability and flexibility.

The last two weeks were set apart for a study of the Constitutions and Statutes and a retreat, both of which were conducted by Fr. Jude Mendonca. This confrere inspired and challenged us to take seriously the call to be zealous Redemptorist missionary with a deeply human andcontextualized spirituality which is proposed to us by the Constitutions and Statutes. His well thought out and practical insights made clear to us that Redemptorist life calls for wholehearted dedication and requires a close union with Jesus.

Besides these input sessions we also had the opportunity to attend the ordination of Fr. Shojin. Since we were free from a timetable on Sundays, our batch mates from Kerala showed us some pilgrimage sites around Vadavathoor. We visited the resting place of St. Alphonsa and Blessed Chavara Kuriakose, and St. Mary’s Jacobite Church, Manarcaud. The community of fathers and students at Podimattam also hosted us one Sunday. We are grateful to Fr. Joseph V. J. for having invited us. We thank Fr. Joy Poonoly, Provincial Superior of the Liguori Province, whose generosity and hospitality have been immense. Thanks to him, we were treated to a boat ride in the backwaters of Kottayam. Overall, our stay at St. Clement’s is rejuvenating our spirits, increased our sense of belonging to a wider Redemptorist family and helped us to prepare for the definitive commitment we will be making shortly. During this preparatory course both, the
resource persons and the participants were from all the three Indian Units –a truly collaborative venture! Once again, thanks to our confreres from the Liguori Province for all the adjustments and arrangements made.

Bro. Sandeep Menezes, C.Ss.R.

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