Solemn Opening of the Seminar
The 5th International Formator Seminar hosted by the Province of Timor is the first congregational event ever to take place in the huge and diverse island country of Indonesia. Particularly our sisters in Kupang and the community of Bello, where the event takes place, have put a lot of effort and care into preparing the place for us. A beautifully decorated church, a huge choir of Junior sisters from different Indonesian provinces, at present studying in the nearby university of Kupang, and a traditional music group from a place not less than five hours drive away,… – all these are just but examples of what was waiting for us at the Solemn Opening of the seminar on Pentecost Sunday. Many sisters from nearby and not so close communities had come to celebrate the Eucharist, presided by the SVD provincial superior of Timor, with us. It was a real Pentecost experience to be gathered as one family in all the diversity that exists among us – and that could be seen, heard, and experienced not as a threat, but as a source of joy and gratitude.
The theme of this 5th International Formators Seminar is: “Formation ministry – companioning toward communion”. On this journey the icon of Jesus as the Good Shepherd will be accompanying us. “It is not just a sweet image”, as Sister Maria Theresia Hörnemann, congregational leader, reminded us in her opening address. Rather, the Good Shepherd should be one “with the smell of the sheep”, as Pope Francis put it once. Throughout the coming three weeks of our gathering we hope to share and reflect upon common concerns for us as a congregation, in particular in the area of formation. The seminar is facilitated by Sr. Ines Setiono (Indonesia-Java), Sr. Rosario Tayson (Philippines), and Sr. Miriam Altenhofen (CLT). Also Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann and Sr. Maria Cristina Avalos from the CLT are present among us.
In the afternoon we were given first orientations as to the schedule, organisational, and practical matters. Then, in groups of three we came to talk about our expectations of the coming weeks, which were then shared in plenum. Some points were mentioned more frequently, such as acquiring new skills to deal with intercultural settings, understanding better today’s youth, learning from each other’s experiences and practices. We also got to know each other in a playful way. Finally, the last part of today’s official program was to meet in the basic groups, in which we will be having faith sharing and other more practical tasks.
By now it has become quiet in Bello. Some sisters still have to catch up with their sleep due to long traveling and lost hours. All want to be fresh and ready as we start our program tomorrow, sharing about our best practices in the different levels of formation. We will let you know how it went….
Sr. Michaela Leifgen, SSpS – Participant from Germany