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African Religious Formators’ Graduation in Marist International Centre, Nairobi

13/08/2009: Kenya

Thirty religious formators and future formators from different congregations and dioceses working in different African countries, graduated today 11th July 2009 at Marist International College (MIC) in Nairobi, Kenya. For the last three years they have been trained in self-awareness and vocational growth through personal counseling known as accompaniment or Vocational Growth Session (VGS) and in psychology applied in formation houses or seminaries.

At 9.30 am, the graduants and the invited guests celebrated the Eucharistic together to thank God for his guiding graces throughout these three years of training. Immediately after the mass, the graduation ceremony began. The graduants received certificates from the representatives of AFIP (Pan African Conference of Graduates of the Institute of Psychology, Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome) namely Br Tony Shanahan (Christian Brother), the acting co-coordinator of the programme, Br. Theodore Grageda (Marist Brother) who is the former co-coordinator, Srs Veronica and Bernadette. They are popularly known as Rulla disciples. After the ceremony, all were invited for a family meal.

The Formation Training Programme for Africa (FTPA) was started by the AFIP more than 10 years ago. The group that graduated today is the third batch. According to Theodore Grageda, who explained the origin of such programme during the graduation ceremony, this programme is one of the many formation training programmes organised by the AFIP working in different countries in the world. FTPA has therefore been established to train religious and priest formators who work and live in Africa. The trainers (AFIP members) live and work in Africa as well.

The formation training lasts for three years. The programme consists of personal accompaniment called vocational growth sessions (VGS) and 3 summer intensive courses, each lasts for 6 weeks. Since the year of its establishment, the courses have been taking place in Nairobi. However, still according to Br. Theodore, the possibility of organizing such programmes in other parts of Africa mainly in French West Africa and in South Africa is being studied.

The main purpose of the training is to equip the formators with knowledge in psychology and Christian anthropology in their work in forming young people who desire to enter priesthood or religious life in Africa. This is done by first of all helping these formators to grow in their vocation and in understanding of themselves as human beings with their strengths and limitations and as God’s children called to holiness. Thus, vocational growth sessions are crucial for them throughout their three year training. Secondly, the formators are trained to help candidates discern their vocation and to grow in maturity as they prepare for the religious or priestly life.

Tiamaro Alphonse, fms Madagascar, one of the graduants.

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