Jesuit novice directors of SA Assistancymet for their annual gathering at SameekshaIndian Spirituality Centre,Kalady(Kerala), from August 27 to September 1. Though all the 13 novice directors of the Assistancy had reached Kochi for the meeting, Fr Richard Jarrain of Kohima had to go back even before the meet started as his elder brother expired suddenly.
The meet started with a few words of introduction to Sameeksha and situating the context by Fr Sebastian Painadath, the director of Sameeksha and our resource person, on August 27 evening. We also worked out a schedule for the coming days which included a daily morning guided meditation. That eventually turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire program.
The meet was officially inaugurated by Fr M K George, provincial of Kerala, with a morning Eucharist and a key note address on August 28. Drawing deeply from his own experiences and quoting extensively from books like ‘The Spirituality of Imperfection’ and ‘Twelve Steps to Compassion’, he highlighted the need of accepting our own imperfections so that we can deal with the vulnerability of our formees with compassion.
The rest of that day and the following day, through input sessions and guided prayer modules, FrPainadath led us into a deeper awareness of different levels of consciousness, as well as ways to reach ‘the heart’. Swallowing the pride of being ‘teachers of prayer’, the novice masters sat at the feet of the master to taste the honey in the rock. Our many doubts and confusions, especially in integrating Indian methods of prayer with Ignatian Spirituality, including the difference in the vocabulary, were clarified by FrPainadath. Common problems faced while teaching prayer were also discussed.
August 30 was a day of outing. Apart from places of interest in and around Kochi city, we also visited the popular shrine of Malayattoor. In the evening we were hosted by the Jesuit community of Lumen. The entire Jesuit community lined up to welcome us and enlighten us on the different initiatives of Kerala Jesuits especially in the fields of media and culture.
The main agenda for the last two days of our meeting was sharing among ourselves on the lights and shadows of our journeys. It was a time to learn from one another and discuss the common concerns. The new novice masters, Fr Anil Pereira of Western zone, Fr Anil Aind of Hazaribabh, Fr James Kalappura of Jamshedpur and FrShaji of Darjeeling were welcomed. We also decided to have our next meet in Ranchi.
We visited the Kerala novitiate at Aluva on August 31 evening. Fr I Raj, the ADF, who had arrived in the morning, celebrated the Eucharist. The novitiate community had prepared a delicious meal with a variety of native Kerala dishes for our dinner. The novices also entertained us with an assortment of songs and their warm hospitality.
FrRaj Irudaya, ADF joined us for the last two sessions. In the first session, he led us through a process of ‘discernment in common,’ reflecting on the recent JCSA Statement on “Contesting Hindu Rashtra: An Alternative Narrative and Strategies for Reconciliation in the New India”. In the second we discussed some of the common issues and concerns specially related to early stages of formation. ADF also shared with us the new initiatives taken last year in the Assistancy regarding formation.
Hats off to Fr Jose Jacob, the Novice Director of Kerala, who did an amazing job in organising the meet in the beautiful campus of Sameeksha. Thanks also to the Kerala Jesuits for their hospitality and kindness in hosting our meeting.FrPainadath was magnanimous to make his time and the other resources of Sameeksha available to us throughout our stay there. And we were all glad to spend time with Fr Samuel Rayan, teacher for most of us.
- Fr.Sajeev Jose, S.J.