Bangalore, India. In a profound journey of spiritual growth, 19 candidates (8 from St. Joseph Vaz Delegation, 4 from St. Thomas Province, 3 from Bangalore Province, 3 from Kolkata Delegation, and 1 from Chennai Province) preparing for the perpetual profession this year from the Major Organisms of ASCLA West participated in the Intensive preparation for Perpetual Profession, which was conducted at Claret Bhavan, Carmelaram, the novitiate house of the Bangalore Province. The program began with the formal welcoming and climate check on the evening of April 30 and the inaugural Eucharist presided over by Fr. Stanislaus. S, CMF, the Prefect of Formation of the host Province of Chennai the following morning. The program was originally designed by Fr. Paulson Velliyanoor, CMF, in consultation with the ASCLA West president, Fr. Antony Bhyju V., CMF, which was slightly modified by the core committee, which consisted of Frs. Lawrence V., Michael Mariadoss, Antony L., CMFF, in consultation with other Claretian resource persons who contributed reflections on themes.
The themes were essentially the same as in the Forge English edition, which were modified according to the exigencies and needs of the participants. The Forge Hall was prepared with the symbol of the Forge of the Heart of Mary with an anvil and hammer along with the image of the virgin of Forge. On 1st May, during the morning prayer, a special rite was celebrated in which each member placed a piece of iron pasted with a heart and his name written on it in the forge, the iron piece symbolizing the hardened area to be transformed by the fire of God’s love.
The sessions began with the individual members sharing in common the six-month preparation they had in their respective formation houses under their prefects. Followed by that each one was allowed to share his vocational and formation itinerary deeply, and it was quite touching to listen to their individual stories. The other regular program included short inputs on the themes coupled with group discussions, common sharing, write-ups, drawings, etc. Personal and common Lectio Divina, personal journal writing, personal prayer, meditation practices, personal dialogue with the spiritual directors, group dynamics, readings from the Constitutions, Directory, and Autobiography were common features. Towards the end of each phase, a film was screened, capturing its soul, and a review followed to draw inspiration from it. At the end of the Patris Mei phase, we had a pilgrimage to the shrine of our Lady of Lourdes, Nagamangalam, at the end of the Caritas Christi, a visit to our community in Jalahalli and at the end of the Spiritus Domini to our mission center at Sumanahalli. All the participants shared with the spiritual directors at the end of each phase. The core group also came together every evening for the evaluation of the day and to plan for the next day.
The final spiritual exercises were directed by Fr. Lawrence V. in which the symbol of the Compass was presented to the participants as a complementary to the Forge, to practice in life and ministry what they picked up in the Forge experience. Contemplation in action was lived from the 21st to the 24th of May with the recitation of “Jesus Prayer” and other regular meditations. The whole experience was solemnly concluded on 25th May with the morning Eucharist. The participants expressed great contentment with their experiences, which were new and transformative for many.
Source: Fr. Lawrence V, CMF, Animator of ASCLA West IPPP.