By Amorain Wayikpo. Merrivale, on 7th December 2014.
At the beginning of this year 2014, our community was composed of 23 members coming from 13 different countries. We had 2 Burkinabe, 4 Congolese (DR Congo), 1 Ethiopian, 2 Ghanaians, 1 Indian, 1 Kenyan, 1 Mexican, 1 Polish, 3 Rwandans, 3 Tanzanians, 1 Togolese, 1 Ugandan and 1 Zambian. Br. James Calder, M. Afr. a Canadian is also a member of our community. He is a lecturer in Philosophy at Saint Joseph’s Theological Institute (SJTI). Coming from different countries and cultural backgrounds has thus kept us an international and intercultural community.
Our community is focused and well programmed. We started the year with the eight-day retreat from 27th January to 3rd February 2014. Second year students had the opportunity to do their 30 days retreat the whole of January. After coming back from our retreats, as a united community, we gathered to have our orientation session. We were inspired by Saint John 10: 10, “I have come, so that you may have life and have it to the full.” This mission statement was shared in teams, and it inspired us to live as brothers in spite of the fact that we have some challenges in our community life. For instance, we had an issue about the means of transport to the Institute which provoked a strong discussion during some of our community meetings. We have classes from Monday to Friday ending at mid-day. Most of us go to the Institute on foot and cover 8 kms per day. The use of our community bus and cars for class purpose is only reserved to when it is raining or when we have some activities in the afternoon at the Institute.
Another challenge is the departure of four candidates which is part of formation. They left their formation due to diverse reasons. The Ethiopian left during the first semester, 1 Tanzanian at the end of the first semester and 2 Congolese at the beginning of the 2nd semester. Then, at the end of the academic year, 2 deacons completed their theological studies and left for their holidays. The rector of the House finished his mandate and he has been appointed for another mission in Jerusalem.
The next academic year starts on 5th February 2015 and we are looking forward welcoming 9 new students and 2 formators. This will make our community come to a total of 28 members; 23 students, 4 formators and 1 brother.
Although theological studies are our main concern while here, we are also devoted to some pastoral activities during weekends. Some of us are doing apostolate in St. Joseph Parish which belongs to the Congregation of the Redemptorists. This parish has got two outstations; Kwa-Chief and Shiyase. Majority of our brothers do their apostolate every Sunday at St. Raphael Parish – Kwamzimba and its outstations. St. Raphael Parish belongs to the Missionaries of Africa and it is the only parish we have in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
This year, two memorable events have taken place in our community; the ministry of acolyte on 17th May 2014 and the Missionary oath linking to the diaconate ordination on 28th – 29th November 2014 (see the previous article on these events).
St. Joseph Theological Institute is a property of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI).
This Institute aims at “Empowering People through Philosophical, Developmental and Theological Learning rooted in the Catholic Tradition in Living Dialogue with Christian Communities, Religions and Cultures.” (Imbizo Magazine – www.sjti.ac.za)
STJI offers the following study programmes: Higher Certificate in General Philosophy, Advanced Certificated in General Philosophy, Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Advanced Cert. in Human and Social Development, Higher Cert. in Human and Social Development, Bachelor of Theology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology.
Concerning our presence in Saint Joseph’s Theological institute, we are well appreciated due to our academic Excellency and full participation in different activities of the Institute. These activities include; Organizing graduations, Tuesday afternoon liturgy, ecumenism and some football competitions between different communities within the institute. About leadership at SJTI, 2 of our confreres are heading two departments: Human and Social Development Studies and Philosophy. The retired president of the students’ executive forum was a student from our community.
This academic year 2014, at SJTI, was ended with a ‘Cultural day’ colored of different cultural presentations which emphasized on our unity in diversity and a closing Mass on 24th November 2014 presided by Fr Sylvester David, OMI, Institute President. Finally, during summer or long holidays, candidates of Merrivale Formation House are allowed to go for holidays outside South Africa, but within the Southern Africa Province.