By Gandaf Walle Jean-Pierre SJ, Hekima
In the tradition of the Hekima College community, the First Years Students in theology, after completing their academic year, participate in a week of reflection on their vocations in the Society of Jesus rooted in the experience of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. This moment of sharing, reflection, and spiritual conversations is called “Ignatian week.” It is very key and fundamental in the lives of the young theologians as it helps them deepen certain aspects of the way of life in the Society of Jesus.
This year, the tradition has been respected, though the Covid-19 outbreak and its consequences gave a different ambiance to the event. Therefore, given the sanitary situation in Kenya, from 5th to 10th July 2020, we experienced our Ignatian week at Hekima College following the measures of protection and social distancing. The main theme that has been chosen by the Scholastics is: “Open to Formation for the Mission and for Companionship in the Society of Jesus.” This important topic has been exploited in various ways especially during the different talks, thee various discussions and spiritual conversations, the faith sharing and the presentations about our various provinces, the masses, and prayers but also the outing to Karura Forest to foster the bonds of our friendship in the Lord.
Concerning particularly the talks, on the first day which was Sunday 05th July 2020, father Dominic Tomuseni SJ, the facilitator of the week, introduced this period of prayer and sharing. His talk emphasized the necessity to go back (ad fontes) to the charism of the Society and the founding experience of Ignatius. Though we are like monks staying here at Hekima, we are also pilgrims like Ignatius and we are going on pilgrimage to discover the sources of our spirituality and this does not deprive us of having fun like tourists.
On the second day, father John the Baptist Anyeh-Zamcho SJ, Conference Assistant for formation, Socius and Admonitor of the president of JCAM, came in to talk about the: “New Wine in New Wine Skins: Fruits from the Dec 2019 Formation Assembly.” This topic gave the opportunity to the Socius of JCAM to summarize the Formation Assembly starting with the preparatory stage, passing through the event itself and concluding with the recommendations and the implementations of its outcomes.
On the third day, we had father Didmus Shirima as the main speaker. He came in to give his experience on the “Joys and Challenges of a Young Jesuit Priest Today.” The speaker managed it very well in sharing his happiness, difficulties, and challenges both as a young priest and as a Vocations Director.
On Wednesday, 8th July 2020, we were blessed by the presence of Bishop Rodrigo Meijía SJ, Tertian Instructor and Retreat Guide at Mwangaza Jesuit Spirituality Centre (Nairobi). He came to explain for us the “Father General Arturo Sosa Letter on Cura Personalis and Cura Apostolica.” The Columbian Jesuit and doctor in Ignatian Spirituality perspicaciously detailed that letter. Entitled “« Care » (cura) in the governance of the life-mission of the Society in this change of the eras,” the letter gave the opportunity to Bishop Rodrigo to bring in his deep and long experience in the Society of Jesus especially in Africa. The talk was interesting as well as the interactions between the scholastics and the speaker on the beauty and the challenges of the necessary conciliation between cura personally, and cura apostolica to which should be added the cura communita.
The last talk was given by father Allan Ggitta SJ, on Thursday 9th July 2020. It was based on the theme “Companionship in the Society of Jesus: Aspects from the Documents and from My Experience.” This topic gave the opportunity to father Allan to make it clear to us that there are lots of documents and other materials on companionship in the Society. Drawing elements from some important texts of the society and associating them with his living experience in the Society of Jesus, Allan Ggita helped us understand how our friendship should be rooted in Christ with whom we would be able to overcome the challenges and illness of friendship. Having encouraged us to be good friends in the Lord and deal makers, father Allan also insisted on various aspects and characteristics of companionship in the Society in line with the experience of Ignatius and his companions.
The Ignatian week 2020 was a great and fruitful experience. It was, first of all, a moment of spiritual blessing and sharing, of encounter with God but also with the Ignatian spirituality through the texts of the Society of Jesus. The various topics helped us learn a lot not only on the Society of Jesus but also on our own religious life. It was also a moment of companionship and friendship in the Lord reinforcing our sense of community life. Plus, the Ignatian week was for each one of us a period of mutual encouragement in our personal vocation journey. It was also a moment of joy and gratitude, a moment of unity and togetherness, a moment of generosity and mutual acceptance.
Our Ignatian week was a great success. Despite the context of COVID-19, we managed to have a good moment of pilgrimage leading us to a real experience in line with our main theme calling us to be companions and friends in the Lord. Therefore we are grateful to God, to the Society of Jesus through Hekima College, and to all those who helped us in various ways benefiting from such a huge spiritual moment.
May all glory and praise be to our God and our Lord Jesus! AMDG.