“Spiritual renewal and transformation of a nation/city cannot take place unless there are first renewal and transformation in the individual.”

I would like to begin by using the above quote because I feel that it is very appropriate here as we end the three-month program. Indeed, renewal and transformation need to take place in each of us.

We began the program on February 24 with 15 SVDs and 8 SSpS from different parts of the world. All of us were delighted to meet each other, and even though many of us have not met earlier, we felt at home because we belong to St. Arnold’s family.

On the first day, we were divided into four small groups and named Mercy, Life, Word, and Delight. The coordinators connected them to the theme “Let your mercy come to give me life, for your word is my delight.” (Ps. 119:77)

The first two days were spent on orientation and community building. Through different models and symbols, the participants slowly felt truly integrated into the group. On the third day, the program had to be changed due to COVID-19 which prevented our speaker on the topic “Eco Spirituality” to come. Fr. Tim Norton, SVD stepped in and discussed the topic of Interculturality.  Creative presentations on the pros and cons of living and group discussions had enriched internationality as Arnoldus family.

The second week was handled by Sr. Mary John, SSpS, and Fr. Jose Antunes, SVD, giving us the topic on Spirituality and Mission. They reminded us of God as the owner and author of mission and we participate in His mission. This was followed by a day of recollection given by Bro. Michael, SVD, leading us to the theme: “Go back to Galilee”. We truly had a Galilean experience.

Then we moved to week three trying to uncover the “Inner Diamond” facilitated by Sr. Ma. Jose Rebelo, SSpS.  She journeyed with us through the sacred ground of inner-self, using various dynamics. We are led to discover our true and false self, emphasizing that a life unexamined is not worth living and self-awareness is crucial for an integrated life.

During this week COVID-19 had affected Italy drastically and a complete lockdown was imposed. Even in this crisis, nothing could hinder the staff of Nemi; they continued with the program with available resources and expertise.

The succeeding topic was handled by Fr. Tim on “Professional Standards”. That was a review of the attitude of the church and how it affected our witnessing the Good News. A guided retreat which was planned to be done in Steyl followed. It was a time to experience Jesus and to rejuvenate our mind and spirit to face the challenges of our life and mission. Also, it was a time to intensify our prayers for the world shaken by the pandemic crisis.

The topic of “Wounded Humanity” focusing on Migration and Human trafficking was given by Sr. Ma. Jose. She was asked to share her expertise on this for she experienced lockdown in Nemi, and this input was a blessing for us.

In response to our request, Fr. Jose Antunes came again to share “ Interreligious Dialogue”. He emphasized the importance of dialogue to attain unity amid diversity. Then the topic on “Emotional Intelligence”  was shared by Fr. Kulannndaisamy, SVD. His inputs helped us to learn how to act, proact, and react in a certain situation. Bibliodrama and Bibliolog were introduced to us by Sr. Leoni Pregunta, SSpS and Bro. Michael Ertl, SVD. This was another way of relating to Biblical texts using movements, dances, and imaginations making the Word of God more alive and dynamic in our lives.

The course continued its journey with the succeeding topics: The Good News to the poor based on the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles by Fr. Lawrence Bose, SVD; Culture, Gender, and Relationship by Sr. Ma. Jose and Fr.Tim; Arnoldus Family Mission by Sr. Anna Damas, SSpS and Fr. Lazar Stanislaus, SVD; Vows and Promises by Sr. Anna Damas; Founding Generation by Fr. Andrzej Miotk, SVD and Staff; Midlife Transition by Sr. Miriam Altenhofen, SSpS. Fr. Paulus Budi Kleden SVD and Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann SSpS also came, on separate dates, to meet the group and share updates on our Mission in the Arnoldus family.

The three months renewal program ended on 18th May 2020 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration.

As we look back to our renewal course experience, our heart was overjoyed as we recognized the hand of God sustaining our journey. God had walked with us and inspired our coordinating team to be creative in keeping the course going amid Pandemic and opening the hearts of our prompt resource persons to respond to our needs. Our love and gratitude go to Fr. Tim and Staff of Centro Ad Gentes for making us feel at home and to Sr. Leoni who accompanied us as part of the coordinating team. We are also deeply indebted to the CLT for the generous support and for giving us this opportunity to take the renewal course. Indeed, we are blessed and we hope to be a blessing to the mission entrusted to us by the Triune God.

I would like to end this report with this quote – “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”

Sr. Felcy Pannurayil, SSpS – Participant