Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.

The Spirit
will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Africa Day - Peace and Security in Africa

Africa Day is an annual commemoration of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963. On that day 32 independent African states signed the founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2002, the OAU became the African Union. Africa Day is celebrated around the world.

Africa Day 2010 will focus on “Peace and Security in Africa”. For us here in the Novitiate we will seek to mark this day in an appropriate way through prayer and celebration.

"Africa is a paradox. It is one of the richest continents on the planet ... yet most Africans remain poor. The disempowerment of ordinary people underlies Africa's gravest problems.
In all of their incredible diversity, Africans share common bonds that tie them together and that they must cherish in their communities, nations, regions, and across the continent. It is fundamental that Africa's leaders create the conditions under which their peoples gain confidence, dignity, and a sense of self worth - with the citizens themselves actively participating in this effort.
The struggle to preserve what they have and hold it close to them is one that all Africans should engage in. When we have nothing to call our own, we have nothing to to reflect back to us who we truly are... (and) we are vulnerable to anyone who wishes to exploit us.
Africans must make a deliberate choice to move forward together toward more cohesive macro-nations, where all can feel free, secure, and at peace with themselves and others, where there is no need for any groups to organise violence against their neighbour. Then everyone would begin to reap the benefits of unity in diversity."
- Wangari Maathai.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Likisi

Today we celebrated the 23rd birthday of Likisi. We pray that God will continue to bless him on his journey as he seeks to do the will of God in his life and we remember especially his parents and family back in Zambia. Likisi has been a wondeful gift to this community bringing to it much joy and laughter.
Happy Birthday, Likisi, and many happy returns of the day!

Concreting of area outside dining room

Br. Paul Noonan Formation Centre is one of the Christian Brothers novitiates in Africa which is ever changing and risking to embrace new possibilities. Over the last year or so, a number of changes have taken place ranging from the spiritual aspects to the physical aspect of the property.

The place is ever green and this makes the novitiate unique and different from the other houses around. You should also keep in mind that Tamale is not one of the places in Ghana to see people going around in heavy jumpers or warm clothes! So the fact that the novitiate is ever green is one thing you and I should thank God for.

On the 16th May, 2010 as the day faded away, we all gathered in our newly cemented yard in the Utility block to officially declare the place open and gave thanks to God for this wonderful blessing.

For those who have been here, I believe that you know the yard I am talking about and if you want to prove it, please pay a visit.

Everybody present at the mentioned gathering poured libation around the sacred tree which is exactly in the middle of the yard in honour of our ancestors especially to Br. Paul Noonan who achieved his dreams by doing something good for God even at the expense of his own life. (OTIENO)

Images from the 5th of May 2010

Celebrating Edmund Rice day on the 5th

This day was celebrated here in Tamale with a difference this year. We had a quiet morning before we celebrated Eucharist in the house with the community of brothers from Choggu.
That evening we were joined by the Presentation Brothers. Br Philip Pinto spoke to the gathering and inspired us with his words and urgings for living authentically and realising that we are called to leadership and to expand our understanding of a God who is constantly inviting us to extend our horizons.
It was wonderful to celebrate the life of Edmund with so many young men who today are inspired by his life and message to serve the poor and to recognise christ alive and present in them.

Mothers Day - 9th May

Today I extend best wishes to all the wonderful loving mothers in the globe. I hope and pray that on this mothers Sunday, might be for them a special and happy day. I Pray for single and abused mothers, and dead mothers too. I recommend the following reflection to all the mothers, fathers and their siblings.
‘Mothers have the holiest work in the world; like God they create life. Then, also like God, they work no-stop. They feed, transport, clean, teach, hug, bandage, love, care, protect, empower, embrace and so on. Trying to make a Job description for a mother is very much like trying to make one fro God- the Job is just too big.’
A saying often heard is as follows, “man may work from dusk to dawn, but woman’s work is never done” perhaps more accurately, the saying should read, “a mothers work is never done” instead. Women without children simply are able to stop work. Mothers can’t.
People who don’t have children are able to recognize the measure of sacrifice mothers make in ways they can’t. Having a child means sacrificing one’s self. That’s it plain and simple. From my experience at the Children’s home, I have learnt that even a mother who gives her child up for adoption sacrifices her body’s resources during pregnancy and the joys of watching that child grow to adulthood.
Most mothers who we honour today sacrifice again and again, for years and years, putting the best interests of the child ahead of their own.
Women who have children usually do realize that they make sacrifices, but they often make light of them because their sacrifices are tempered with love. Definitely it is possible for us to be more objective about the extent of mother’s sacrifice than they can.
When people say “God is like a mother” these days, one of the thoughts that come to my mind is their willingness to sacrifice and to be totally unselfish. It is an inspiring quality in God, and it is true mothers too.
‘He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!’ [paslm11:9]

Vocation Sunday and Edmund

“Were we to know the merit And value of only going from one street to another to serve a neighbour for the love God, we should prize it more than Silver and Gold.” Bl. Edmund Rice.

On the 25th April, the church celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday. It is a day set aside each year to pray for Vocations in the church to the priesthood and religious life. It is also a day for us to consider the vocation others also have as single or married people to enhance our world by making it a better place for all.

A Saturday before the day some novices joined the young people who gathered at the Catholic Youth centre, the occasion organized by the Diocesan vocation promotion team to share with the young on vocations. Since then the life of the Founder started dawning in my mind and I thought it was appropriate to reflect on it and share with others till the Feast Day.

On this vocational Sunday I had a different experience all together. In haste I prepared myself to go to Kamina Barracks were I was to meet the new Catholics who I had escorted in their faith journey during CPP. I found myself at the Catholic-Methodist joint service organized by the soldiers; ‘celebrating vocations and a call to peace keeping’.

I was touched by the Commanding Officers reflection on the Good Shepherd gospel passage, where Jesus was emphasizing on the self-sacrificing element in his own life: “The Good Shepherd is the one who lays down his life for his sheep” He contrasts the good shepherd who owns the sheep to someone who is simply hired to look after them. The hired man thinks primarily of his own welfare and, if he sees the wolf coming, he takes off, leaving the sheep to be attacked and scatter in fear and terror. Jesus, on the other hand, will not be like a hired person: “I lay down my life for the sheep.” The Officer concluded his reflection by saying; ‘The parable today speaks directly to us all on how we should live out our lives and our callings, as we serve God and humanity.’

After the service I had a group of young men who wanted to hear about the founder of the ‘Kanvili Roman Catholic school Brothers’, meaning the Christian Brothers. In the sharing I tried to summarize the life of Edmund as – honest and successful businessman, husband, father, widower, religious brother, compassionate friend of the poor, teacher, Servant Leader and founder.

“Edmund was moved by the Holy spirit to open his whole heart to Christ present and appealing to him in the poor”. (1984 congregation General Chapter) I suppose Edmund was someone who helped the poor, he did not only know the poor by their poverty but he knew them as people and through knowing them he came to ever deepening realizations of his mission in life.

Thus he founded the congregation of Christian Brothers to carry out the work he first started in Ireland for the poor who needed someone to shepherd them. Edmund knew the value in the words he offers to us at the start of this article.

Blessed Edmund Rice was given the grace to respond to the call of Christ by identifying with the poor. His example evoked a deep awareness of God’s loving presence in all with whom he came in contact. He also awakened within them the consciousnesses of their dignity as children of God. He invited his followers to share the Gospel insight to reach out to the needy, especially the materially poor.

How are we today ‘flying free’ with Edmund? What type of shepherds are we?

Br. Philip Pinto Visit

“Now master, you can let your servant go in peace, according to your word …” (Luke 2:29ff) this was the verse which I immediately recognized when I saw Br. Philip Pinto the congregation leader. Over the last two years as a postulant and a novice, I have heard quite a lot about him. I have read his reflections on the congregation document chapters and magazines. I have seen his images in various photographs however, I hadn’t met him physically and when I saw him, my joy could only be compared to the joy of Simeon experienced when the child Jesus was presented to him.

I was delighted to listen to him as he spoke to us. At first I couldn’t believe myself sitting and listening to him and worse still asking him questions. His own experience of God is quite unique and how it changed his ways of looking at things. It reminded me of being alert on what is going on within me and around me and that I shouldn’t take any small experience in my life for granted.

The biggest challenge to me was when he asked us whether we had had any experience of God that we hadn’t read anywhere or heard from anybody? To me it wasn’t easy but it was an invitation to go back and reflect how life is worth living.

Anyway it was a good experience to have Br. Philip around for he made me think bigger.

May God bless him.

Farewell Jordaan and Peter Ndivo

On Friday the 23rd April, 2010 we gathered as community to pray and say good bye to Peter and Jordaan. It was really a time of sadness and some joy- sad to depart with our brothers, joy in moving on to what their hearts desire most. Members were emotional as we said our farewell messages and reflected on the friendship we had made with them. I was no exception, I could not hide my feelings, and how touching the lives of Peter and Jordaan had been.

We reflected on the poem by M. Rider:
Go to places, this new day, where your heart would.
Walk where you will and in the walking know
The way is yours. Allow for storms. At the end of the day they’ll prove
That your heart was wise and your choice was good.

With a sense of joy and of thanks for the gift of Peter and Jordaan, in the evening the community gathered for a drink and a meal. Jordaan and Peter left Tamale at dawn 24th April, 2010.

The message for Jordaan and Peter is that, as they go forth from here, confident in themselves and in God, they may achieve what their hearts desire most and remain brothers to all in their service of others in diverse ways. I Implore we continue praying for each other, each other’s happiness in the future.

May God who has companioned us up to now continue blessing us with satisfaction in life, friendship and joy, and courage in times of difficult, especially at this transitional period?

Good bye PETER, good bye JORDAAN! The Novitiate community will surely miss your presence, your numerous gifts and contributions!

All we ask of you is forever to remember us as loving you

Community pastoral placement evaluations

Life not reflected upon is not worth living’.
April 12th to 22nd, 2010, what a remarkable time in our discernment process! After three months Community pastoral Placement we came together to share the fruits of the experience. I am grateful to Sr. Alice- Msola and Br. Raphael-Presentation Brothers, for the effort and time they invested in the first week of evaluations.

The first week consisted of Community reports and financial statements, role-plays and reviews of the CPP process itself.

‘It is not easy to go to the margins and not be challenged or touched by the enormity of suffering and hardship of people living in such conditions.’ Our Constitution states “it is in daily living that the challenge of community life manifests itself. We grow as persons as we come to accept the difficult task of living for others and as we become aware of our gifts and limitations in our human interactions…”

These statements were revealed in the 2nd week of evaluations. It was evident that the exercise had achieved its intended purpose as we shared how growth had taken place in our lives. We listened to each others individual reports. During the peer evaluation we affirmed and challenged each other bringing to awareness our gifts and concerns. During this learning process we were also privileged to share with the team members and our individual accompaniers. At the end the team gave a feedback of how they felt and saw the experience to be.

The whole CPP and evaluations stimulated and left many with questions on the Christian Brothers way of life and what Religious life is all about today.

I thank God, the team, my fellow Novices, the people who offered us time and space for learning and growth, the staff at various ministry sites and a million thanks to the people we ministered to and who in turn did the same for us.