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We welcome 13 new first year novices at Br. Paul Noonan Formation Centre in Tamale, Ghana. They will be accompanied by 4 members of the formation Team.
Standing: (I-r) Fabio Ondieki (Kenya), Peter Mutelo (Zambia), James Dekongmene (Ghana), Alisious Ligurie (Sierra Leone), Augustine Williams (Team Member), Benson K. Mbalu (Kenya), Kennedy A. Wamwandu (Kenya), Julias 0. Ochieng (Director of Novices), Sumo Mulbah (Liberia), Vince Duggan (Team Member), Lawrence Ndyabagye (Uganda), Jonathan Lufunda (Zambia), and John Kinyanjui (Kenya)
Sitting: (l-r) Joseph W. Omondi, Kenya), Myers Gaywhea (Liberia), Daniel Manyando Masiyaleti (Zambia), Patrick Nuanah (Team Member).
The call to think beyond our imagination
The world is in a tense situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people across the world find it very challenging and mostly in a negative way. Millions of people are losing their jobs, some are starving, especially people who live on their day-to-day basic wages, and some have no anyway to raise their everyday capital. Hence, so many are experiencing negative effects of COVID-19.
However, our Holy Father Pope Francis, invites you and me to notice and appreciate the "STAY AT HOME" rule, because it gives us time to slowdown and be grateful of our surroundings in nature. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis suggests that if we can really see the beauty in nature, then we will do all in our power to nurture and protect it. We are intimately connected to the smallest plant and the smallest animal who share our common home, and are a source of wonder and awe.
As we continue slowing down and fighting against this pandemic that has come our way, let you and me use the time to try to see a tree within a seed, a bird within a glowing egg, and within a shroud a butterfly. By so doing we will we realize the mystery we call God present in all creatures and, hence, protect and take more care of our Mother Earth. The pandemic invites us to seek a new beginning. Nature is trying to teach us something. We cannot go back to where we were. We are invited to see beyond what our naked eyes can see, to look more positively for what the COVID-19 pandemic is saying to us.
Finally, brothers, let us begin using our “THIRD EYE”, the awakening eye within us during this time of invitation to awakening that the pandemic offers our lives.
Jonathan Kayombo Lufunda
Changing the way I see things
It is now four months and two weeks since I joined the novitiate in Tamale. This is what I have to share out as my personal experience. Novitiate is nurturing me with some of the best experiences I'd had since I entered the Brothers, despite the novitiate group being large and with diverse cultural backgrounds. I find myself acquiring more the virtue of tolerance for other cultures and find beauty in them. Moreover, I am becoming more aware of this because of the willingness and openness to accept other brothers‟
beliefs and their spirituality, without criticizing them.
Novitiate has been very life-giving throughout the four months. It has given me the best happiness ever. The team and novices have been friendly to me, something that is life-giving to my vocation. I have been privileged to learn about the deep meaning of brotherhood. I am learning about the Congregation as a whole, as well also about community living and prayer. It has helped shape my spirituality and transformed me in the way of seeing things. It is like a call to think beyond my imagination.
Every time I listen with great attentiveness to the voice of the beloved that calls me, I discover within myself a desire to hear the voice longer and more deeply. In solitude I listen to the voice of him who speaks to me, to live a Christian life which leads me to live in the world without being of it. It is in solitude that this inner freedom can grow. Jesus went to a lonely place to pray, i.e., to grow in awareness that all powers he had were given to him. In the lonely place I find courage to follow God‟s will and not
my own; to speak God‟s words, and not my own; to do God‟s work, and not my own. “I can do nothing by myself. My aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who calls me.” (Jn 5:30)
I want to continue to reflect on this lonely place in my life. Somewhere I know that without a lonely place, my life is in danger. Somewhere I know without silence, words lose their meaning.
Life continues to be good in Tamale, as I strive to grow in all aspects of my personality. With the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, the programme keeps me occupied and busy with various activities. For instance, Wednesdays Skills Day have been one of my best days, encouraging me to build my talents and skills through sharing ideas and some online research.
Because of this creative experience, I am now able to play simple tunes on key-board, and know how to play a pool game. Spiritually I am enriched with the Holy Eucharist on Sundays and through my personal and communal prayer. I had the opportunity to grow in appreciation of our Mother Earth during the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' Laudato Si. I've enjoyed planting flowers around the grounds and two pawpaw trees. I feel proud being able to contribute to nature and for the remembrance.
I pray to Almighty God to guide the whole world to cherish our Mother Earth in these difficult days where so many have lost their jobs. May Covid-19 die from this planet and for us return to a renewed way of life on this earthly home of ours. My prayer is that our Director, Br. Julius, return soon to this community when borders open again and for us be able to enjoy the vast experience in the culture of Tamale, and the entire beautiful country of Ghana.
I am grateful the programme has been flexible and it would be unusual to be bored here.
Wednesday’s ‘Skills Days’
Wednesdays had originally been assigned as our ministry day but because of the present pandemic COVID19, we have not yet experienced ministry in the local community since February. Wednesdays, therefore have creatively been designated as Skills and Talents Improvement Day. Different novices have taken this day seriously to enhance their different talents and skills. It has been a great opportunity for us to give some focus to our various talents and skills.
Individual Brothers have engaged in such things as electrical work, masonry, plumbing, music, farming (both livestock and crops), as well as improving our skills on computer. We also are participating in the course on-line from the Gregorian in Rome on Child Protection Policy (CPP). All these very worthwhile endeavours have been for the wellbeing and growth of our own personal growth and development here in our home at Paul Noonan Formation Center.
Water is a precious gift from Mother Nature given to all living beings on earth. We have come to understand and appreciate more than ever the significance of water in our lives. We just could not reckon life without water. After the closure of the Tamale Novitiate three years back, the water tanks dried up and many of the pipes were blocked. This caused a real scarcity of water once we began reusing the tanks and the pipes. The town water supply company would occasionally pump in water, but it was not enough to sustain 16 Brothers and 3 workers. It became a big challenge for our Novitiate.
Hence, the community decided to buy water every two weeks. As was expected, this came to be quite expensive. We thought of drilling a borehole as a long-term solution. It could well sustain the whole community and future generations to come. Out thanks must go to the Provincial Leadership Team (PLT) and to the Province Financial Team, spearheaded then Br. Paul Follas, and more recently by Br. Odongo Simon Peter, who have made our dream come true by first buying into the idea, and the funding the Project. Gratefully, the drilling began without delay, and distributing pipes were put in place to distribute water to the three separate tanks. We can spend days without food and still be alive. But if we get deprived of water, very soon we will close our eyes forever.
Masiyaleti Daniel Manyando
NOVICES SHARE EXPERIENCES OF THE PROGRAM
A time of inspiration a time for critical thinking
The three months I have spent so far at the Paul Noonan Formation Centre have been a time of inspiration and also a time for some critical thinking. I was invited to listen, to read and to comprehend during these past months as we approached the mysteries of Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The classes stressed a lot on the resurrection story, which invited me to deeper reflection. There were times I'd say that I got confused in examining my faith. Through it all, I discerned well. I desire to rise with Christ at a deeper level. The whole experience has made my relationship with the Risen Christ more meaningful. I am becoming more grounded with the knowledge of being a brother.
Peter Siisi Mutelo
It's been good encountering life so far in Tamale. Coming from different cultural backgrounds and living together as a family has indeed been a unique gift. Not to say that it hasn't been quite challenging for almost two months now trying to understand one another in the community, bearing in mind as well the climate adaptation, and also the culture of the people around us. I found myself getting along pretty well. The impact of Covid-19 has brought a new awareness that we are all connected.
We had started well with workshops, especially during the SELL PROGRAM. That was the last workshop before the lockdown. However classes are still going on usual. Now with deeper understanding of Cosmology, I have a new story to tell about the universe. More especially, it's a story about the stars being our ancestors, though it is quite challenging to believe. Moreover, having gained the knowledge of TRASNA, I am ready to change within and also with the world that is changing.
Furthermore, I am becoming more grounded with the knowledge of being a brother. A brother is called to be an advocate for the vulnerable people in society. Every day I pray for the vision to be a light in their darkness; they are also part of our life journey. Finally, my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Formators and to the entire Congregation for the CCP program we’ve started. It’s giving me more lights on how sensitive a child can be; and how I also grew up as a child; and the things I missed as a child. The whole program is about change and I am ready to change.
DON'T BE PROUD, CORONA VIRUS
Covid-19 the manslaughter,
Obviously you have destroyed a multitude of lives,
Ready for more as you claim
Onset, you come like a thief moreover
Nevermore, we already know you now
Adamantly we can't obey you
Violently you must go.
I motivate continuous soap hand wash
Ready to sojourn indoors
Until you are perceived no more.
Solution is with us, now remember
And we have got you covered.
I pity your suffering
Because your hell is already burning.
United we have ceased you
Nevermore, nevermore on our planet.
LOCAL LANGUAGE (DAGBANI)
It was another great opportunity to be introduced to a former Christian Brother, Joseph Abdullai from Ghana, who had been asked to teach us the local language used by people around (Dagbani). The classes were held on Mondays and Fridays. On 10th March 2020 we began his classes. He officially started with simple greetings like "Dasiba" meaning good morning, "Antire"- good afternoon and "Aniwula"- good evening. The response is general to all "Naaa". We went ahead learning how to construct short sentences such as, what is your name? One says "A yuli?" The response is, "Nyuli...." How are you? "Kawula?" The response is, ”Alaafee."
There was active participation and eagerness to learn the foreign language. The purpose of his class was to learn the language and equip us on how to interact with our staff members and with outsiders, especially those who do not understand English. Apart from the Dagbani classes, Br. Joseph, could go extra mile to encourage us with pieces of advice on religious life all of which I identified to be enriching, as we journey together in discernment. Sincerely, l have learnt a lot from his classes. Finally, I would like to thank the team for creating such a platform for us. And thank you to Br. Joseph for accepting and taking his time, coming to spend that one hour with us each week.
Kennedy A. Wamwandu
IT IS WELL (COVID 19)
Let's take a moment and reflect about our lives
And say to ourselves it is well.
The hope might seem vague
With the current turmoil,
But it's a story to tell.
It's a wakeup call for all of us
To put our eggs back in the shell
To know what really matters in life
When all we think about is how to be saved.
But the questions are
Saved by who? Who will save us?
ls it our businesses? ls it our money? Is it our fame?
Or is it the people around us?
Yes, there is fear and yet there is isolation
But nothing keeps us calm like the family consolation.
I still here the birds singing
Then why should I weep?
Sounds of people walking
Then why should I creep?
A single smile can make you forget about the situation
And look at life in a different dimension.
We are really feeling the pain
But what can we gain from the pain?
ls it a stain?
Or an aim?
That one day life will be better again and again.
Ligurie Alisious Kongo
SHARING EDUCATION AND LEARNING FOR LIFE (SELL)
The community accorded us with an opportunity to attend the Sharing Education and Learning for Life (SELL) programme, which was organised by SELL Ghana. It is a young adult Peace Building and Human Development Programme that has a very gentle approach of engaging young adults in participatory learning.
All postulants and novices from every Religious Formation House in the Diocese of Tamale attended this workshop. It was a life-giving programme especially for us in formation. The program was well organised and offered an opportunity to learn and to get to interact with others. The whole program lasted for three days. During these days we got to learn more about community building, leadership, wisdom of traditions, self-awareness, and justice and peace building. Throughout the workshop, I came to understand more clearly that all life is connected, despite all the social, cultural and religious disparities that abound, especially religious dogmatism. All I need to do is think, choose and open myself to all spiritual sources of inspiration.
A lot of activities and games took place for which, if I have to list them, will take the whole page! Nevertheless, such a life-giving programme is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Kudos we owe to our Formation Team, for giving us such an opportunity. My hope is that this program will not be the last!
Masiyaleti Daniel Manyando
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
Having arrived in Tamale, Ghana on the 4th of February, we now give thanks to God on being officially welcomed to the Paul Noonan Formation Centre on the 15th February to begin our novitiate program. We are thirteen novices representing seven different countries spread throughout the three African Districts, East, West and South-Central.
We have come together with the intention of becoming Brothers in Blessed Edmund Rice's Congregation of Christian Brothers. On that day, we publicly articulated our personal statements and commitment to God and to humanity. We are ready to be open and honest to where God is calling us.
We give sincere thanks to our Formators, Brs. Julius, Vincent, Augustine and Patrick, who also committed themselves to journey with us throughout our two-year novitiate program. With gratitude to God, we ask the Brothers and Sisters of the Edmund Rice Family Network to remember us in prayer that we may always listen to that whispering voice of God in our lives. We are 13 novices from 7 different countries from 3 different Districts of the Africa Province.
By Alisious Ligurie