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"A promise is a debt”: Fr Jean-Luc Enyegue SJ professes his Final Vows

By Jean-Pierre Gandaf Walle SJ, AOC Province

Saturday 31st October 2020 will remain forever in the heart of our companion Father Jean-Luc Enyegue SJ who pronounced his final vows during the mass celebrated by the president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), Father Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ. The celebration that took place in the Chapel of Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya, was placed under the memorial of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez and under the strict observance of the health guidelines due to Covid-19.

Saint Alponsus Rodriguez: Model of humility, simplicity and service

In the introduction of the celebration, the main celebration presented Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez as a man of simplicity, humility and service. Alphonsus was a great disciple of Christ who always found his delight in being a simple watchman in a school. He is the example of a great Jesuit who is a disciple of Jesus and dedicates his entire life in serving others with joy and meekness. The life of Alphonsus, the patron saint of Brothers in the Society of Jesus, exemplifies and epitomises how a Jesuit fulfils his vows to the Lord in a humble and simple way.

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A Promise is a debt but who is the debtor?

In his homily, Father Orobator SJ, shaped his ideas around the well-known proverb which states that “a promise is a debt.” Drawing his inspiration from the biblical readings and his ancient personal experience of collector of rents, Father Orobator SJ, explained that there is a debt between God and Father Jean Luc Enyegue. However, recalling the famous statement of Mobutu “qui doit à qui?” (Who owes to who?), Father Orobator underlined that both God and Father Jean Luc are indebted to one another. God promised to be always with his servant Jean Luc and to grant him the graces he needs to fulfil his vows. Sixteen years ago, Father Jean Luc Enyegue also contracted a debt from God through his first perpetual profession at the end of his novitiate. He has been carrying that debt with him throughout his formation because he promised to follow Christ closely in a life of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. The promise he made years ago is still a debt that he owes to the Lord. By professing the final vows in the Society of Jesus, Father Jean Luc Enyegue is somehow paying the debt he contracted years ago. Nevertheless, the debt is still there because the final vows are also a promise to be a witness continually of Christ in the Society of Jesus unto death.

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How can we repay to the Lord for his goodness?

The psalmist puts it right in asking: “how can I repay to the Lord for all the great good done for me?” The contemplation Ad Amorem, according to Father Orobator, shows us that everything comes from the Lord and one cannot simply repay Him for all those immense gifts. Furthermore, God always keeps his promise, he is always faithful and never ceases to assist his servant even when he is struggling to repay his debt. This conviction, according to the celebrant, is a motif of joy and gratitude for Father Jean Luc. In fact, how can he repay to the Lord for his goodness to him? Knowing his shortcomings and difficulties to be a genuine witness of the Lord, this conviction is a source of encouragement to follow radically the loving Lord by professing the final vows with simplicity and gratitude.

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Final Vows in the Society: Path of gratitude and humble service

Father Orobator made an invitation to Father Jean Luc Enyegue asking him to always remember that the final vows in the Society of Jesus are a not a way to honour but to humility, not a path of pride but of service. Therefore, gratitude should be the core virtue driving father Jean Luc in his every day’s life as professed Jesuit. In that, Father Jean Luc can also rely on the help of all his brothers and sisters because as the idiom puts it well “those who eat together, do not eat one another.”

The ceremony was concluded with the vote of thanks of the Rector of Hekima College, Father Deogratias Rwezauras SJ, who also presented the gift of the community to Father Jean Luc. He particularly mentioned how by his presence and qualities, Father Jean Luc Enyegue is a good and reliable member of the community of Hekima. Father Emmanuel Foro SJ, speaking on behalf of the Provincial of AOC Jesuit Province, extended the gratitude of the latter to all the assembly for supporting the newly incorporated Jesuit. The main celebrant Father Orobator also congratulated the now professed Jesuit Father Jean Luc Enyegue and appreciated the great work and ministries he is carrying at the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (JHIA).

Lastly, Father Jean Luc Enyegue himself expressed his gratitude to God, to the Society and to all the assembly for this special and unique moment in his life.

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The biography of his life was broadcasted in the chapel and the whole ceremony finished with a fraternal meal shared together to the greater glory of God.