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The JCAM Formation Assembly begins on a high note in Nairobi, Kenya

The JCAM Formation Assembly has started in a wet Nairobi that has registered more rain at this period of the year than usual. As delegates arrived from across the continent and beyond, some had a lot of difficulties as their flights were cancelled or overbooked. However, by noon on 9 December 2019, all the participants had been registered.

The general theme of the Assembly is: New Wine, New Wineskins (Luke 5:37-38): Transforming the Mission of Formation in Africa and Madagascar in the Context of Faith and the Universal Apostolic Preferences. For five days, participants will reflect on the identity, mission and profile of Jesuits in formation and Jesuit formators in Africa. While listening to narratives of best practice from across the universal Society, they will also discern ways of aligning formation with the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus.

The first day began with a brief payer, following which JCAM Formation Delegate Fr. John the Baptist Anyeh-Zamcho SJ offered some welcome remarks. He acknowledged the various participants, especially the lay collaborators who graciously accepted to participate in the Assembly. He also gave a brief history of the initiative of the Assembly and shared how the planning team had worked to make it a reality.

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Above (right) Fr John the Baptist SJ Contributes to a Q&A session at the Formation Assembly

During the opening Eucharistic liturgy celebrating the Immaculate Conception led by Fr. Joseph Afulo SJ, the provincial of the Eastern Africa Province, participants were invited to consider the fact that God prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary before sending Jesus into the world. Formation should integrate a similar process of preparation.

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Above: Father Provincial of Eastern Africa Province (AOR) celebrates Mass at Chem Chemi during the opening of the Formation Assembly

The theme of the day was Composition of Place: Jesuit Formation in Africa and Madagascar Today. To develop this theme, JCAM President Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ reviewed significant milestones, key successes and pertinent issues in formation in the Conference set in the context of the history and charism of the Society. He encouraged participants to reflect on ways and means of transforming formation which he aptly described as handing on the spirit of the Society to the next generation. Quoting the words of Fr. Adolfo Nicolás SJ, he declared that the Society has a future and Africa is part of that future, but only if Jesuits are formed deeply in the Ignatian charism.

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The JCAM President giving opening remarks at the Formation Assembly

The discernment in common of issues during the assembly is carried out mainly through person prayer and spiritual conversations in small groups. Feedback from the various groups reveals a compelling desire to re-centre formation on God. If a word map of the day was made, the prominent words would be SPIRIT, GRATITUDE, HOPE and COURAGE. The atmosphere has been one of prayer, consolation and friendship in the Lord.


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