Dar es Salam on 07 – 10th April 2015
Place of work
Bro. John Gachoki
Bro. Daniel Ndihu
Bro. Kenneth Wekesa
Bro. Joseph Wamalwa
Bro. Paolino Rota
Bro. Alessandro Bonfanti
Bro. Wilson Gitonga
Bro. Nahashon Njuguna
On 6th April 2015 the Consolata Brothers working in Tanzania and Kenya arrived at Bunju Spiritual Centre (CMC) in the evening. The community representative received them warmly.
Later, had supper together with Consolata Philosophical Seminarians from Morogoro who had visited the spiritual center with their formators.
We agreed upon a brief timetable and agendas of the days we were to spend together.
7:00 am – Eucharistic celebration and lauds
8:00 am – Breakfast
8:30 am – First Session
11:30 am – Second Session
12: 30 pm – Lunch
3:30 pm – Third Session
7:00 pm – Supper
8:00 pm – News
10:00 pm – Lights off
- Reflection on the Pope Francis letter on the Consecrated life ‘Rejoice’
- How the founder wanted the Consolata Brothers to be based on his writings and conferences
- Visit to Historical site – Bagamoyo (First place of the evangelization in East Africa)
- The way forward of the Consolata Brothers
- Vocation promotion and formation
- International Missionary Congress in Nairobi
Reflection on the Letter of Pope Francis ‘Rejoice’
By Seminarian William Wema IMC
The main theme in this letter of the pope to the consecrated men and women is joy. How a religious men and women can be a source of joy and how they can transmit this joy to the other people.
He began his talk by quoting the words in the Acts 2:32. We are called to be a witness of the risen Christ. The main aim of our life as religious is being witness. Our founder Bl. Joseph Allamano acknowledge this when he says, “we are not called to perform miracles but to be witness in our mission.” We as religious and especially Consolata Brothers are called to be aware of this and to be united in Christ. As religious Brothers this is the time to teach ourselves to be with Christ and this should happen since the time, we are young and not only when we grow old. The call of religious is to be witness and are called to be witness of the resurrected Christ.
The question is what is the difference between a religious brother in vows and the other Christians? As religious, we have vowed willingly to live the evangelical counsels. Religious life is a radical way of following of Christ in the midst of the reality at hand i.e. denouncing everything to following Christ. Religious is a way of expressing our discipleship in Christ and the Church. When we follow this way, we become special gifts of the Mother Church. By our vocation, religious life, we are going to dedicate ourselves to the service of God and the church. This should always the intention of all the religious people especially as brothers in our day-to-day activities that we are involved.
In his message, Pope Francis underlines the following as the aims of this year of consecrated life:
- to look past with gratitude
- to live present with joy
- to embrace future with hope
The speaker highlighted some methods of learning wisdom, which he encourage us to embrace. These methods include:
- reflection (noble method)
- imitation (easiest method)
- experience (the bitterest method)
The pope ask us to reflect on our origin i.e. our particular history. For us we should do it as Consolata missionaries. The history of our founder, the first missionaries, the origin of our congregation, the Charism and identity and why the brother in the congregation. We are called to look this if we are still in the right track, is there still the enthusiasm that the first missionaries had? Going back to our origin and history, we are preserving our identity and look forward to correct the mistake done by the other missionaries. This will help us to strength our unity of Consolata missionaries.
Sense of belonging. The question is, do we feel the sense of belonging as Consolata missionaries? Looking at the origin of our congregation, we should be challenged by the first missionary. They had a strong sense of belonging in the congregation. The change of the feeling that we need to have as a Consolata Missionaries, i.e. sense of belonging should start with the individual and not the others.
Still looking at the origin, we are able to grasp the ideal and the values that inspired the founder to found our congregation. The courage that the first missionaries had of these values include the enthusiasm, the missionary zeal that sometime is dying in the young missionaries, the courage to be witness even in hard situation. Let us look to our origin and embrace these values and let us not sit on them but apply them in our daily life.
The second aim is to live the present with joy. As religious we should live our own time. There are a lot of challenges of witnessing Christ in our time with joy and not in gloomy faces. We should not worry of what is happening in the world. We should also not forget the idea of the cross as it encourage us to move forward in our way of witnessing Christ. As individual brothers, we should discover our own responsibilities in the church and in particulars the institutes, and how to respond to these responsibilities.
In this year we religious, we are called to renew our discipleship in faith in Christ. We destroy what draw us away from Christ. We need to be rooted in the meaning of gospel ie. The beatitudes and love, the desert, cross, poverty, prayer (seeking the will of God saving the brother and sister.) The pope continue to tell us that we betray our mission by the excuse of saying we are living in the insecure world.
The third aim is to embrace the future with hope. This is because of the religious are experiencing the problem and challenges of our own time. For example the decrease of the vocations and the ageing members, economical problem coming from the global financial problem, internalization and globalization and the threats of relativism (religious life has no meaning).
Second Session of Reflection
Mark 10: 17-22 the parable of the young rich man
Jesus is still showering us with brotherly love. To inherit the kingdom of God there are conditions that we need to fulfill. We are called to live and practices the commandment and the most demanding thing is to detach ourselves and follow Christ fully. This is only possible by the practice of the virtue of love. Love defends life. Love is everything, for us religious brothers. To love one another helps us to live in harmony and communion in the community.
In this year, our expectation as religious in the entire church is to be joyful. The pope Francis says that where there is religious life there is joy. For us religious we should be the source of joy to people and not the source of cry. The joy that religious bring to the people it contradicts the joy of the world thus we should be ready to face some hardship and we should be ready to stand firm in our own faith. In most cases now days the religious have become the source of cry, discouragement among others. Let us renew ourselves and become the source of joy to those people we are serving. We serve them with joyful faces and not gloomy faces. The pope underline that our joy is not found in the success but it is on the silence of the cross. Let us embrace the cross and learn from it. We do what we are doing in silence as our founder was telling us. We should do good in silence. As Christ’s disciples, we are called to carry and accept the cross.
This reflection brought a challenge to us brothers and provoked the discussion on these:
- How can we renew our motivations as brothers?
- How well can we share our responsibilities and goods?
- How well do we know ourselves (personal awareness)? In addition, how can we renew our personal awareness daily?
- How do well prepare our people to renounce the evil in the societies?
- As religious we have an obligation to live the joy and transmit this joy to the marginalized people i.e. The poor, the widow, the neglected groups in the society etc. Passing the joy of the kingdom to all who needs it by witnessing that joy, as people need it.
- Second expectation is expected to be the prophets. Being prophet we are called to be messengers of God, God’s spoke men. Pope Francis says that he counts on us to awake the world. This means that we have the ability to scrutinize thing and ability to interpret the events of daily life and see in eyes of God. After that, we should condemn the evil in the society and uphold the good in the society.
- We should also help the society to discern the evil and good. This will happen to us brothers if we have time to discern the will of God in our prayers meditation of the word of God. It requires a lot of discernment on the will of God. We pray for God’s grace because of the society we are living in the evil has become the preference of the people. Let us stand on the light despite the evil of our society like the prophet of old time eg Jeremiah.
- We are called to be expect of communion. Communion is lived in the established community by the congregation and institutes. The communities we live in are rich by different talents, ideas, personalities but negative criticisms; jealousy makes communities a den of evil and source of discouragement.
- As religious, we should uphold what is good and avoid the unnecessary things, which does not help the growth and communion of people.
- Lastly, we need to go to come out ourselves and go forth. Going to the world (Mk 16:15). The world wants us especially to those men and women who have lost hope in the life, families in difficulties, young people without future, sick and elderly people. Men and women looking for a purpose in life. It is a huge task and challenge for us.
IMC BROTHERS AS ALLAMANO WANTED THEM
By Sandro IMC
- From the reading of Allamano Spiritual Conferences and letters, we see many interesting items regarding the Consolata Religious Brothers relevant today. They are words, which present a brother with a very special warmth because they manifest the affection of the founder for his favourite ones who in his words said “ have always consoled him.”(Conf. IMC, III505- 23 Dec 1920)
- The first group and second one to Kenya that Allamano sent to Kenya they were composed of two priests and two brothers. The founder had a preferential love for the brothers. He felt always consoled by the brothers and their good will to do some work.
- They founder wanted brothers who can work but above all those who are always in communion with the will of the Father through prayers and are ready to study in order to be help in the mission land.
- Brother are true auxiliaries and coadjutors of the priests in the mission. They are useful in all regions, and are indispensable in missions. They should match with the priest in teaching of catechism if they are in the parish. The founder calls us to be useful in all the communities where our missions are. This is because a brother can achieve more good than a missionary can because he is available in practices and concrete thing.
- On spiritual life and holiness our founder say that it is easier for the Brother to become Holy (Conf. IMC, III 23-18 Jan 1914). Due to the dedication of working closely with people, they have more chances of being holier. They spend time in work they go for their prayers for themselves and people they work together.
- To respond to our vocation we must practice three virtues.
- Obedience in all things whether big and small, willingly to listen and assist to assist.
- Piety must be our food as brothers, growing in love for the prayers and not neglecting prayers and doing the will God.
- Charity, bearing with each other, without expecting the others to bend to us. We all have our own flaws, different character, let us correct each other.
- Lastly, humility must be trained in all the virtues.
- The founder shown an importance of gain knowledge. He told the brothers they must study crafts, arts among many others course without neglecting the study of Christian doctrine.
- Brother should work and flee idleness. Work is necessary and we brothers we should embrace and work for the lord who calls us. Work is not only a duty, but also an honor since our Lord Jesus Christ and his Holy Family have sanctified it.
Other areas where we see brother encouraging brothers is through the diaries and letters between the founder and the brothers. Eg the letter he wrote to Bro. Benedetto, in August 4 1904 and we quote. “From your letter I see that you do not lose your cheerfulness even despite your illness. Very well. Continue with this spirit and the lord will help you…”
Discussion from the Brothers
- Only the brothers but not the priests or other lay people can only manifest the beauty of our vocations. Therefore, it calls us as brothers to really come out and manifest that this is a joyful and important vocation in the church.
- Two years ago when the brothers meeting Mombasa accepted to be writing to the magazines that we have in the institutes. Some magazine publish the work at the beginning and others until now do not publish the work. We encourage the brothers to continue contributing to these magazines, despite the challenges they encounter with the publishers of the magazines.
- Some of the challenges we get as brothers in animation and confusion of the vocation to brotherhood is not our own make but of the church. Priests and sisters are everywhere in the church and being directly involved in the apostolate. The young ones as they grow they see them and they become aware of them, some follow interested to follow them and they begin their formation journey oriented to that area. Brothers are not common and they are very rarely to find them in the mission as the number has decreased very much.
- The other thing is that the seminarians who are candidates to priesthood when sent in the parish they refer themselves as brothers, thus leaving this particular vocation confusing to our Christian as it is seen as a stepping stone to priesthood vocation. This lead to the vocation being a forgotten one not only to Consolata but to most of congregations with clerical state and lay brothers.
- The challenges that we face as religious brothers especially Consolata Missionaries the solutions are already found in the letter of pope Francis “rejoice”, let us witness our vocation with joy and not with gloomy faces. This will lead to many accepting to follow us in this and us we will be able to awake the world and become prophets of our times.
- We need to love our vocation as brothers and share our joy with others especially the young people we encounter in our day to day live.
- The other challenge we encounter is that priest dominates the formation and they are the ones to make decision on what the candidates to brotherhood will study. In order to help the young candidates to brotherhood in formation, we propose that a brother is seconded in the animation and formation who will follow the their formation and what they will do in specialization when the time comes. This will encourage the young brothers in formation.
- There is also lack of the knowledge of our congregation especially to the young Consolata missionaries. The students seem that they have shallow knowledge of the history of our congregation and our identity is not well explain. Some do not know even why the brothers are indispensable in our congregation for. This lack of knowledge has led to a lot of conflict especially with the young generation, which has no knowledge of brothers. It has also lead to the competition between the priests and brothers, as priests want to take everything, and the brothers remain without doing anything in the community.
- The local congregations have contributed to the undermining of the brother vocation as they allow those who had not performed well in education to become brothers. Thus, this is viewed by the society as the vocation to those who can only do manual work and those who can’t become priests on the grounds of their intellectual incapability.
- The brothers are not happy. They are always complaining and even worse, they do it before the seminarians. This discourages the young ones who would like to join them as this impression set a bad example of who is a brother in the church ‘a complainer’.
- In some places the brothers are not given chance to be involved in the pastoral activities directly where they can also teach and influence young people to join they. They are just confined with their work place in offices, garages among others.
- What also contributes to the happiness of a brother is the professional preparation. This is because in the community that he lives he is able to give practical solutions to the situations at hand. Upgrading of their professional training should be checked after certain period in order for them to be relevant to the current situations in the world.
- Brothers also should be ready to take initiative especially in places where they are not involved in pastoral work. This is for them also to become relevant in those situations rather than being discouraged in their vocation.
The visit to historical site at Bagamoyo. This is the first place of evangelization in East Africa. The visit to Bagamoyo, was enriching and challenged us brothers to see where “The good news” began in East Africa.
As a terminal point on the cost for Arabs trading caravans, Bagamoyo naturally became a holding depot for slaves brought from the interior
Five kilometres south of Bagamoyo are the Kaole ruins. They are basically medieval, though some structures (including the West Mosque, once perhaps the finest on the mainland) date back on the 3rd and 4th centuries.
We also had a chance to have lunch outside and moment of socializing and sharing.
- The Way Forward
In this session, we were trying to see the way forward in our congregation about the vocation to brotherhood. It is a vocation faced by some challenges within the individual members and without. Having analyzed some of the challenges of our vocation we sat down to see the way forward to see how we can improve the way we are responding our vocation and help others appreciate it. The points below are the contribution of the brothers:
- To have a brother representative in the Regional Council Commissions of Vocational Animation and Formation. In the two regions that is Tanzania, we propose Bro. Nahanson Njuguna to be in Formation Commission and Bro. Sandro to be in Vocational Animation in Tanzania. In Kenya, we propose Bro. Wamalwa to be in Formation Commission and Bro. Wekesa to be in Vocational Animation.
- The vocation to brotherhood is ours and we made we choose it free. We need to realize it with the joy that comes from within and express the joy of this vocation to other people.
- To continue having an inter – regional meeting between Kenyan and Tanzanian regional for IMC brothers in order to have on-going formation and encouraging each other in this vocation in our congregation and the Catholic Church.
- Before the next General Chapter, we propose to the General Government to have a international meeting for IMC of the brothers.
- The professional training or specialization of the IMC brothers should be relevant to the demands of the realities of our society today. We should not limit ourselves only to the technical training. In addition, those concerns should seek to know the interest of the brother and if that is in accordance to the congregational needs.
- International Missionary Conference
In the session, we tried to give out the outline to one of our brother, Bro. Wekesa who was requested to share about the vocation to brotherhood in this millennium. The international Missionary conference will be held in the month of May 2015 few day before the beatification of Sr. Irene Stefani. It will be held in Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi Kenya. It is to mark the 100 years since the Muranga Conference, which were held in Muranga Kenya, and other religious congregation will be mark different celebration during that time.
When this was presented, the brothers were very happy to hear about it and to have someone requested to share about vocation to brotherhood. Here are some of their contribution towards the one to do the presentation.
- To give it a theoretical approach, i.e The vocation of a brother in general, vocation of a brother in a missionary congregation perspective and includes the ideas of our founder Allamano had for the purpose of a brother and how the brothers vocation has developed along the ages in the church.
- To demonstrate who is a brother and his relevance and where do we find brothers in this millennium and the challenges of being a brother today. In addition to make clear the beauty of the vocation as in the congregation of mixed state i.e clerical and lay brothers it always remind the priests that they are religious.
- To clear the misconception of the idea that brother vocation is a stage in formation to priesthood as this has ruined this special vocation in the Catholic Church.
- To consult the church documents says about the consecrated life.
- To have knowledge of the pope’s letter “Rejoice”.
- Christ is the figure of brothers’ vocation especially the service to the people.
- The brother presenting should also be aware of his audiences so that he knows what to be presented and how to do it.
- Next inter – regional meeting between Kenya and Tanzania will be in Mombasa Kenya.
- All the minutes of this meeting and discussions will be sent to all the brothers in the two regions.
- A letter will be sent to Fr. Marini the Continental Counsellor for Africa signed by the brothers present in the inter – regional meeting in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. The letter is a concern about the upcoming Vocational Animators meeting in Kenya asking him whether there is a brother representative in that meeting.
- The minutes and discussions of this meeting will be sent to the superiors of the two regions i.e Tanzania and Kenya accompanied by a letter of appreciation for the chance they gave us IMC brothers.
- The sponsorship of the inter – regional meeting will be left to the superior of the regional to decide how it will be.
- For the next meeting, to have the agendas of the meeting before we meet.
- The brother coordinator in Kenya to improve the communication between and the other coordinator of the Tanzania region.
- If there will be a realization of the International Meeting of IMC brothers the agendas can be Formation of the brothers vocation and continuation and nomination of the brother in the general council.