September 9th – November 4th 2016.
I am Fr Ambrose Esigbemi Umetietie,cm. From the the province of Nigeria. After my ordination in August 2013, I was sent to Chad International Mission. However, I had to spend about five months in Cameroun to learn French before resuming my apostolate. It was during the then superior general’s visit (Fr Gregory Gay,cm) that I was accorded the opportunity to participate in the international ongoing formation in Paris. Thanks to him for this opportunity.
At the end of the program, I thought it wise to share some of my experiences and information gathered during the course of the program.
Over these couple of months, the CIF (Centre International Formation) programm has taught me some major lessons for life especially as a missionary. During this time I had opened my mind and personal views up to some major ideas and information that I was not always familiar with. I make bold to say that my love and devotion to St Vincent Depaul have been aroused. My whole perspective as a Vincentian has been reshaped and fine tuned.
This change was made possible by the numerous readings, small group discussions, informative and clarifying chats with confreres from other provinces. The daily conferences on various themes bothering on our Vincentian heritage and charism to intercultural relationships were superb. I will not forget to mention the visits to Vincentian, historic and major religious sites in France. The trips were not only enjoyable but edifying. I would simply say that my life has just experienced a “systemic change”.
The conferences from Frs Dan Paul Borlik,cm; John Rybolt,cm; Robert Maloney,cm; Adam Bandura,cm; Andres Motto,cm; Frederick Pellefigue,cm; Kazimir Stelmach,cm; Allain Perez,cm; Juan Corpus Delgado,cm; were inspiring. They have given me a deeper understanding of who I am, a missionary.
As regards our visits to Vincentian, religious and historic sites in France, I am very happy to have seen those places I had always known through the pages of books. It has afforded me some first-hand information and photos that will help me better explain the history and spirituality of the congregation. Arriving at places like Folleville, Chatillon, Clichy, Pouy ( now known as St Vincent de Paul) etc., reminded me of the stories told us while in the internal seminary. My ideas were purified by these visits. These trips also afforded me the opportunity to visit the famous Lourdes. On that chilly night, I was amazed by the multitude of pilgrims who were there for the rosary procession. It was really a sight to behold.
Moreso, this line from the psalmist “behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live in unity” was at the heart of my experience of community life during this couple of months. I wasn’t sure at the beginning what community life would be with participants coming from over ten countries of the world with different cultures, languages, backgrounds etc. But my fears disappeared after a couple of days. There was a great harmony and communion amongst us.
Another very important discovery was the necessity of knowing more than one international language. My knowledge of English and French facilitated my interaction with the confreres. However, the difficulty I encountered in communicating with the Spanish confreres has further strengthened my resolve to learn spanish.
It was also a rare privilege to have the Superior General Fr Tomas Mavric,cm; the mother general of the Daughters of Charity, Sr Kathleen Appler,dc; the secretary general of the congregation Fr Giuseppe Turati,cm; the procurator/postulator general of the Congregation Fr Shijo Kanjirathamkunnel,cm, present at different points of the programme. Their inputs were enlightening. Meeting these people in persons was a privilege am proud to have been accorded.
In conclusion, I will like to say that I am impressed by the manner the programm was organized. I can’t think of any hitch we encountered. Thanks to Frs Dan Paul Borlik,cm and Adam Bandura,cm and Andres Motto,cm for such marvelous organization.