General and Regional Councilors, FSSA

General and Regional Councilors, FSSA

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Golden Jubilee of Lwak of Girls High School

Golden Jubilee of Lwak of Girls High School

Current and former Principals of Lwak Girls High School More »

Social Ministry

Social Ministry

A Sister serving in the sewing room More »

FSSA Sisters

FSSA Sisters

Meeting during Annual General Meeting More »

FSSA Sisters

FSSA Sisters

Celebration during Franciscan Family Day-Nairobi More »

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Bondo Ladies Hostel More »

FSSA- African Superiors

FSSA- African Superiors

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FSSA-Regional Superiors

FSSA-Regional Superiors

Left; Kisumu regional Superior, Right; Siaya Regional Superior More »

 

Challenges facing formation hinders discernment of vocation to religious life, says Sr. Auma

By Rose Achiego Ande

Sr. Jacinta Opondo, FSSA

New Wine in New Wineskins (NWiNW) one of the latest Magisterium documents brings out a number of challenges to formation today that obscures proper discernment of vocation to religious life and sustainability of members. It presents what Pope Francis calls problematic “patterns of thoughts” or “limited spiritual constructs”. That describes congregational dispositions and behaviours that do not manifest new wine but watered -down wine.

In her presentation during the 18th Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) Plenary Assembly taking place in Nairobi Kenya under the theme “Re-awaken our prophetic Call: Call for Reformation towards Holistic Transformation in the region today”. Sr. Jacinta Auma Opondo, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna (FSSA) in reference to The Gift of Fidelity and Joy of Perseverance (GFJP) agreed that, it is more difficult to live as a consecrated person in today’s world.

According to Sr. Auma, the struggle for fidelity and lack of strength to persevere are experiences that belong to history of religious and consecrated life since its beginning hence the religious are always to keep watch to identify what is at the root cause of the struggle at every given moment.

She adds that, “today’s culture of the provisional, influences life choices, and the very vocation to consecrated life. “This culture causes a precarious fidelity that weakens total and permanent self-giving to the service of the Lord; and when the ‘forever’ is weak, any reason is considered valid to leave the path one has taken,” she said.

Presenting online to about 200 participants drawn from all over the world, Sr. Auma said that, the abandonment of consecrated life worries, affirming that “some leave as an act of coherence, because they recognize, after serious discernment, that they never had this vocation. We find, quite often, situation of an intermittent dedication, on occasional fidelity, a selective obedience which are perhaps symptoms of a watered down and mediocre life, devoid of meaning.

She adds that, sometimes, behavioural tendencies explore, occasions of scandal arise, which are hurtful and raises serious questions about the previous formation journey and lifestyle. She therefore calls on all the religious to rethink formation in order to design formation programme that is more transformative rather than merely informative.  

She therefore encourages religious women to follow all stages of religious formation by giving it a multi-dimensional approach. “Formation is to be based on a Christian understanding of human nature; understood as, beings created in in the image and likeness of God, wounded by sin and renewed by grace, called to universal fellowship and fraternity, immersed in history and society, graced with a particular vocation that unfolds progressively in conscious and free response to inspirations of the Spirit.

Sr. Auma reiterates, that formation needs to lead each candidate towards internalization and acceptance of the Institute’s charism and way of life through discernment process. “For formation to realise this, it must be personal, differentiated, integral, gradual and progressive, liberating and prophetic, particularized and universally balanced,”

She advised representatives from different religious institutes to ensure that every formation process pays attention to the human situation and the demands of the present, to accord the same to the current attitudes of sentiment and thought prevalent in social life of the day.

“The world in any time in history offers both new hopes but also unheard off challenges that affect formation in a significant way; new possibilities, but also obstacles that can slow down or even bring to a halt the formation process, she said.”

Echoing the sentiments of Pope Francis Sr. Auma reminded the religious that formation must be given the seriousness it deserves adding that fidelity and perseverance have been at the center of the intervention of the Pontiff.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, In Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis calls for a transformation of customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures which can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for self-preservation of the Institute.”

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