Thomas Yellavula mhm, rector of the 2nd Cycle Mill Hill Formation Centre in Pune, India, gives his impression of the recent Global Formators Meeting
Global Formators Meeting 2017-2018
The Global Formators Meeting 2017-2018 was held in Pune, India where we have 2nd cycle Formation centre. There were 15 formators and two General Council Members namely Andrew Mukulu, the Councillor for Africa and In-charge of the Formation programme and Jimmy Lindero, the Councillor for Asia. The meetings were held from 27th to 31st of December 2017 at Ishvaani Kendra, a centre for missiology and communications run by Divine Word Missionaries.
As recommended by the last Global Formators Meeting 2015-2016, we had a day of recollection given by Fr. Thomas Malipurathu, the Rector of SVD seminary. He gave a thought provoking reflection on Formation from the biblical perspective by quoting from our formation guidebook stressing that it is the Holy Spirit who is the primary agent who leads the students to growth and maturity and how the Word of God and formation are intimately linked. God transformed the people of Israel right from the beginning of the call of Abraham. And in the New Testament Jesus continued this task of forming his disciples even after the resurrection.
In this way, Fr Thomas helped us to reflect on the prophetic role of a formator in the formation of students for mission where they are enabled to become Christ-like. Formators are called upon to reflect on the two dimensions of the prophetic role: prophetic approval as well as prophetic protest. Finally he affirmed that formation is all about bringing about attitudinal change that lasts a whole life time. He also offered holy mass for us on that day. The members appreciated very much the input sessions and resonated with the reflective themes of the talk.
During the ensuing days, reports of various formation centres, from vocation directors and MEP coordinators were presented. Particpants shared the challenges, concerns and difficulties that are faced in the formation centres. Generally participants felt encouraged, affirmed and supported through active listening and positive affirmations. The concerns of new registration policies in Nairobi, the visa restrictions and finding the suitable colleges to support visa applications for Pune still remain a big challenge. In spite of such challenges and obstacles we are hopeful that things will work out in our favour as we keep finding new avenues to deal with these issues.
Keeping these obstacles in mind and viewing the growing number of students, formators suggested the possibility of opeing a third 2nd Cycle centre, possibly in Phillipines. On the whole, all participants emphasized the importance of the dimension of formation for mission that we are to continually inculcate in the students. In the end everyone shared that they felt enriched, affirmed and enthused with the noble task of forming the future generations which are the life blood of society work as affirmed by Andrew Mukulu. Over all everyone enjoyed the pleasant winter weather of Pune.
It is said that “the self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action”. Yes it is true that the Church also continues to teach us that ultimately one is responsible for one’s self-formation. “All formation is ultimately a self-formation. No one can replace us in the responsible freedom that we have as individual persons”. (Pastores Dabo Vobis No. 69). However, we have to keep in mind the fundamental basic components of the formation process: Student, Formator and the Community. It is only when the committed following of the student/disciple and the prophetic stance of the formator are coupled together that we can build up a constructive fellowship in a witnessing community.
Thomas Venkateswarlu Yellavula mhm
2nd Cycle Mill Hill Formation Centre