“You must yourselves be men of deep faith in order to be effective messengers of faith.” These words of the POSA, Fr. Stany D’Souza, set the tone for the reflections and deliberations of the coordinators of PSSF (Province Secretariat for Service of Faith) from every Province/Region, who along with the CSSF Secretary Fr. Arun Kumar (KAR) had gathered at Phesama, from 13th -17th October 2022 to share our experiences, discuss strategies and rekindle the passion for our common mission.
It was a joy to interact with each other in person after the lockdown and we experienced a strong synergy as we journeyed together in understanding the challenges of our job and formulating creative responses. In his online address, Fr Stany outlined the situation in South Asia and urged us to re-imagine the ministry of Service of Faith in this context. He encouraged us to cultivate spiritual depth, stay rooted in our way of proceeding, and develop skills to increase efficiency and credibility. The Kohima Socius, Fr. Richard Jarain, presented the history of Kohima region, pointing out how the faith-filled pioneers forged new paths and achieved the improbable – truly a shining example of missionary enthusiasm and dedication.
The Secretariat of Faith is a product of the REGAE process and includes the ministries of pastoral work, Dialogue, Ignatian Spirituality and PWPN. Fr Julian Fernandes walked us through the main features of SAP and REGAE, pointing out that the ‘Process is more important than the Product’. We felt encouraged to focus on the universal mission of the Society and seek areas of convergence especially in the implementation of the UAPs. Fr. Anto and Fr. Benny, from the Diocese of Kohima shared about their work and contribution on Peace-building and Youth Ministry. They motivated us, as disciples of Christ, to be instruments of peace and to have Jesus’ heart for the youth and marginalized groups. Fr Jagdish Parmar briefed us about PWPN and its tremendous potential for outreach. These inputs and the spiritual conversations that followed, gave us clarity and energy for our work. Celebrating the Sunday Eucharist in the villages around Kohima, enabled us get a glimpse of the ground reality of pastoral work in the region.
Fr. Arun Kumar planned out the program with meticulous detail, organizing sessions that touched upon all the ministries included in this sector. His timely communication ensured that we were on board at all times. The group was highly appreciative of his inspiring leadership, experienced not just during the meeting but over these years. Finally, a huge word of thanks goes out to the Kohima Jesuits for their five-star, or rather seven-star, hospitality. The local coordinator Cyprian Lobo, along with the team at Phesama, provided excellent facilities and gave us a taste of the rich flavours and culture of Northeast India. Their friendly cheerful ways showed us how a Jesuit community anywhere in the world will always be a ‘home’ for another Jesuit. Ecce quam bonum! We came back to our own Jesuit communities, refreshed, renewed and fully motivated to carry on our tasks as men of the Magis.
The author is the Secretary of the Faith Commission of Bombay Province.