Personal Testimonial from Br. ADOLPHUS NWANDU OFMCap
For about two weeks, from 27th May to 10th June, there was an event quite unprecedented taking place in St. Bonaventure University College in Lusaka, Zambia – an Inter-Franciscan Formation Course for Formators. Although there was a fairly similar course in St. Pio’s Capuchin Friary, Ibadan, Nigeria in August last year, the peculiarity of the course in Lusaka was that, while the one held in Nigeria was organized and animated by the Capuchins, it was jointly organized, animated and facilitated by the three branches of the First Order: Order of Friars Minor, Conventuals (OFMConv.), Order of Friars Minor (OFM) and Order of Friars Minor, Capuchins (OFMCap.) and the friars of the Third Order Regular (TOR). The participants came from about twenty (20) countries in Africa, most of who work in the various fields and levels of formation. The Facilitators and animators were the Secretaries General of Formation of the Conventual friars and the Capuchin friars, the General Vicar of the friars of the Third Order Regular and some other friars from the three branches of the First Order who are specialists in various disciplines.
The venue was very conducive. The participants were accommodated in their particular friars, as each of the three branches of the Order has a Friary in the College. And the conferences and workshops were held in the auditorium and the lecture halls of the College. Each day’s activities commenced with the Eucharistic celebration in which is integrated the Morning Prayer. The morning sessions were inputs by a facilitator on a particular area of interest, and the afternoons were dedicated to workshops organized in six (6) groups. Incorporated in the program were Formative Experience with the Poor, Recollection and Fraternal Day outs which were held on Saturdays and Sunday.
Without going into details on the issue of logistics, I wish to sincerely acknowledge and testify that the program was a wonderful one. The inputs were so enlightening and enriching. One cannot forget the inspiring homilies of the Masses, as each one presented us with a rich food that disposed both mind and heart for input of the day. The themes were so chosen, organized and presented such that they were so diversified, and they touch all the dimensions of formation: Psychological, Anthropological, Theological, Charismatic (Franciscan) and Practical. And they were very well integrated. They were not merely theoretical but very much practical, thanks to the facilitators. It was clear that each theme presented was well thought of, and the choice of presenter very well scrutinized.
The Workshops were truly so enlightening and enriching. They were grace moments of sharing of experiences and ideas, and profound fraternal interaction. It was so beautiful and consoling to realize that we are facing similar challenges in the work of formation, irrespective of the diversity of places and affiliations in the Order. Indeed, with the mutual enlightenment and enrichment from the workshops, each one of us went home more fortified and better integrated to continue our work of formation. Added to this is the very impacting experience of fraternal interaction through the common recreations and the fraternal outings which we had during the period of this program.
Throughout the period of the program the relationship among the brothers portrayed a deep sense of oneness, irrespective of the fact that we belong to different families within the Franciscan Order. This, in my own assessment, shows clearly that, for the African friars, the age-old controversies, as ‘providential’ though they were somehow, that gave rise to the divisions in the one family of our Seraphic father St. Francis, has become only a history. May this spirit of unity sustained by seraphic love continue to be our strength as we face the challenge of witnessing to the Franciscan charism in our great Continent.
BY FRIAR ADOLPHUS NWANDU OFMCap.