This was a day to remember! As the crowd gathered at the International Spirituality Centre (ISC) in Lusaka, there was a sense that something special was happening. Brothers Hugh O’Neill and John Casey, members of the leadership of the Congregation, Br Michael deKlerk , leader of the African Province and Brs Alfred Banda and Chris Nhete of the South Central District leadership team were there to mark this historic moment in the life of the Congregation. There is no doubt that Sunday, 6 September will go down in the annals of the Congregation as a defining moment.
Brothers for the first cluster of communities in Western Zambia assembled in the grounds of ISC together with Brothers from the District, and friends … Mr Joe Mecano of Misean Cara, Sister Stanislaus of Focus Ireland, Sr Pereka, Sisters of Charity . The Presentation Sisters were there in force. There were members of the Jesuit Order, the Capuchins, the Sisters of Mercy, the Missionaries of Africa and the Sacred Heart Sisters.
The event was recorded by the Jesuit Production Company, and clips of the event will soon be on the website.
The St Joseph’s youth choir from Kamanga parish sang beautifully to welcome all. Then two of the choir recited a specially composed poem in rap style, “The Journey”! This went down very well, especially with the younger people present.
Br Michael deKlerk , welcomed everyone and highlighted the significance of the day . He explained that the idea of Our Way into the Future (OWITF) is both an invitation and a challenge. He shared the reflections of the Indian Brothers which they had written prior to arriving in Zambia.
The group then journeyed from the nursery school and gathered around the painting of the OWITF logo designed by Bill Bolger. David Gibson explained that the painting depicts Moses before the burning bush, shielding his face from looking directly at God.
The group then moved to the hall where Francis Hall explained the call for the Congregation and for Religious Life. He explained that we are all being called and described the call from our ancestors, from the Soli and Njanja people, from the missionaries and from Pope Francis who is calling Religious not to be afraid of the newness of the Spirit.
Br Hugh O’Neill, addressed the twenty-nine Brothers who have volunteered to be part of the first cluster of communities, telling them that they are part of a significant movement in the history of the Congregation. He said that they were ‘Brothers for the world.’
Members of the TST then called these Brothers forward, asking them if they were ready to embark on this adventure. After each Brother had responded, he approached Br John Casey who gave him a candle to light at the central candle, symbol of Christ. Then he sat down with his lighted candle in the circle of fellow participants.
Br Alfred Banda blessed each Brother with water, the symbol of life, and all recited the ancient prayer for pilgrims, for these Brothers are indeed pilgrims on a journey! The words of the Pilgrim Song, “We are pilgrims on the journey; We are brothers on the road; We are here to help each other; Walk the mile and bear the load” proved an apt and moving finale to the service.
The choir provided more lively hymns to round off an uplifting ceremony for all. The first Orientation Program for Our Way into the Future was well and truly launched!