The Juniors of the Province of Central Africa once again gathered for their Annual Assembly from the 20th to 24th August 2021 in Our Lady of Africa Formation House, Futru-Nkwen, the motherhouse of the Province. The Assembly brought together seventy (70) Juniors for a five (5) days encounter of spiritual, cultural, and experiential exchange. Thus, besides them getting to know each other more (as this is the only moment in the formative year they all meet together), the primary objective of this Assembly was to have formation sessions and exchanges as Juniors of the Province, to respond to the Piarist Vocation they have all received as integral human persons, following the footsteps of our Holy Founder, St Joseph Calasanz.
This Assembly was co-coordinated and facilitated by the Provincial, Fr. Evaristus Akem Ndi Sch. P. and the Provincial Assistant for Pastoral Vocation and Initial Formation, Fr. Paulinus Abose Sch. P. In the words of the Provincial in his opening address: “The Juniors are the future of the Province and the Order: thus, we need to come to full knowledge of the day-to-day realities of our Province and Order, so that we may respond appropriately and as such live and propagate the spirit and vision of Calasanz in all we do. But to do this, we must avail ourselves of the necessary qualities that will permit us to live an authentic Piarist life in the modern world. (cf. C 9)”.
The Assembly proceeded with three main sessions: Piarist Religious Life and Formation by the Provincial, Piarist Life today: Opportunities and Challenges by the Provincial Assistant, and The Cultural Heritage of the Pious Schools still by the Provincial Assistant.
The Provincial, talking on Piarist Religious Life and Formation, pointed out the fact that while we pursue the transformation of the society by the integral education of poor children and youths, it is imperative for the Juniors to as well form themselves integrally (cf. P C 18) for one cannot give what he does not possess. Therefore, the person of Christ must be the foundation of our daily quest for growth and renewal (cf. C 16). The young brothers were thus encouraged to become the protagonists of their formation, strike a balance in all the domains of formation, and renew their hearts and motivations each day, be assured of the assistance of the formators.
Piarist life today: Opportunities and Challenges. The Provincial Assistant presented our diverse cultural heritage and realities and the glaring example and vigor of our Holy Founder and the first founding fathers of our different presences as important push factors and opportunities for us to live and transmit the Piarist mission and identity. But then, on the other hand, the consumerist culture, the spirit of mediocrity and superficiality are dangers that we run the risk of falling into if we do not keep watch and set our eyes on Christ who called and chose us (cf. Jn 15:16), He who is the author and finisher of our faith (cf. Heb 12:2).
This went in the same line with the third session on The Cultural Heritage of the Pious Schools. The Pious Schools as we have today result from the untiring efforts of Calasanz and many of his disciples. This same path was followed by the first Piarist Fathers who arrived in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. Therefore, it is an invitation, an appeal, and a challenge to the Juniors to keep the mission and vision of Calasanz alive today despite the demands and challenges of the modern world by the very witness of their own lives (cf. C 93, Evangelii Nuntiandi 46). After the presentations, they were a series of exchanges and workshops on the above themes and other related issues on the life of the Province and the Order as a whole.
It was a very enriching encounter that ended with the celebration of the solemnity of Calasanz, followed by the yearly retreat from 25th to 31st August 2021, in the formation houses of Bamenda.
Fr. Paulinus Abose Sch. P.