Fifty-one Holy Cross priests, sisters, and brothers engaged in the ministry of initial formation in Asia gathered at the Holy Cross Retreat and Pastoral Centre in Bhadun, Gazipur, in Bangladesh, for a fraternal gathering and meeting from February 23-27. The theme for the meeting was: Holy Cross Formation and Transformation in the Asian Context.
Joining the formators from the General Council were Fr. Emmanuel Kallarackal, C.S.C., First Assistant/Vicar General, and Br. Nee Wayoe, C.S.C., Fourth General Assistant and Director of Formation for the Congregation.
Fr. Theophilus Sohtun, C.S.C., Assistant Superior of the Province of North East India, gave the keynote address on the theme, “Holy Cross Formation and Transformation in the Asian Context.” He pointed out the demographic contexts as well as multi-cultural and multi-religious aspects of Bangladesh and India, and how these aspects form the minds of our candidates in Holy Cross and thus require a certain attention and care. He also pointed out that formation and transformation is a life-long process where human effort needs to cooperate with God’s ever-abiding grace.
Other Holy Cross religious who presented were Fr. Joby Sebastian, C.S.C., Rector of the Holy Cross Seminary in Pune; Sr. Violet Rodrigues, C.S.C., Area Coordinator for Asia; Fr. Mariaraj Iruthayam, C.S.C., Director of the Holy Cross Aspirancy in Agartala; Br. Ripon Gomes, C.S.C., Director of the Holy Cross Aspirancy in Narinda; Fr. James Cruze, C.S.C., Director of the Holy Cross Retreat and Pastoral Center in Bhadun, Gazipur; Br. Basker Arokia Samy, C.S.C., Director of the Brother’s Formation House for the St. André Province; and Br. Premanand, C.S.C., Director of the Brother’s Formation House for the St. André Province.
Within the overall theme, other topics addressed included: effective assessment processes in all levels of formation, the defining characteristics of Holy Cross Formation, the challenges to religious formators in today's local and international context, and the dimensions of an effective intercultural formation house. Attention was also paid to the importance of creating a Holy Cross culture, a “Holy Cross-ness” so as to root the candidates in the community with a sense of identity.
In his words to the assembled formators, Br. Nee called upon the group to create healthy environments in their respective formation houses to foster the growth of those in formation. Fr. Emmanuel, in turn, emphasized the importance of the role of the formators in the health of the overall Congregation.
In addition to the many presentations, there was plentiful time for conversations in small groups on particular topics and issues. Participants were divided into four different groups and discussed the issues of formation, vocation, spirituality, charism, and international aspects of Holy Cross. Later all the small groups gathered in the large group and presented the fruits and findings of their group discussion to the larger group.
There was also time for fraternal sharing, including a short cultural program following dinner one evening in which all the cultures present at the gathering made a presentation.
The gathering closed with Mass, celebrated by Fr. Emmanuel, after which all those who participated expressed their gratitude for a fruitful gathering.