Shillong, India. For a Claretian Missionary, his learnings, an integral development, development of talents during his formation and a strong spiritual relationship developed with Jesus are his sources of life in his future ministry. It is rooted in the Word of God guided by the Holy Spirit and formed in the heart of the immaculate heart of Mary. The initial formation received gives a foundation for one’s own future as a Missionary of the Word and in his perfection and holiness. If it happens in the local culture and within the area, it can become really effective and influential in anyone. He would become a challenging missionary who would take up any service amidst the people. It is with this idea the formation house, Claret Villa, was established in Northeast India. This center is celebrating its Silver Jubilee in this year. During these years, 50 students completed their basic formation and ordained as priests. This is a shining model in getting basic formation inserted in the local place, culture and life situations of the people. They are formed to be future missionaries in the style of St. Claret.
Our students get their classes on theology and Divine Sciences in Oriens College, Shillong, a seminary established and administered by the Bishops’ conference of Northeast India. Northeast India has 15 dioceses including three archdioceses, Imphal, Shillong and Guwahati. This region of northeast India is known as “seven sisters” consisting of eight states now. The population here is mainly tribals and Adivasi. Majority are followers of Jesus Christ in various denominations of Christianity. The Claretian Missionaries are present in three of these states now. The most attractive and colourful population and culture of this region is an envy for anyone who visit here. The culture, language, joy, accommodation, reception, eating and clothing habits are very much special for our people. The Church and its various activities are part of the daily life of our people.
Northeast Indian Catholic Church has two formation centres of theology, Scared Heart Theological College by Salesians and Oriens College. The region has a few apostolic schools, minor seminaries and three centres of philosophy. The Congregation of Salesians established a university “the Assam Don Bosco University” in the state of Assam in 2008.
Bishop Stephan Ferrando, Bishop of Shillong, founded the first indigenous religious congregation, Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, in October 24, 1942 in northeast India. It has above 1200 members today. The second religious congregation, Visitation Sisters of Don Bosco, started in May 31, 1983, by Rt. Rev. Hubert Rosario, the archbishop of Shillong. Moreover, the presence and service of very many religious congregations, various hospitals, pastoral centres, colleges, schools, hostels, dispensaries, religious formation centres, many training and animation centres, etc. are means of missionary service to the people of northeast India. The vocation to priesthood and religious life is tremendously increasing and brought marvellous effectiveness in our missionary service to the people. As Claretian Missionaries, we form part of this evangelization work of the church in northeast India.
The Claretian Missionaries form part of this service and the initiative that we have taken to have a formation center here in northeast India make us proud. We are grateful to everyone who took pain to establish this formation house. It is a model, for everyone deeply based in the local culture, to have excellent studies, in the initial formation of our missionaries. The students have many opportunities to become experts and inserted persons in the local culture and people all through their years of formation. Mary, our Mother, forms every Claretian missionary in the style of her Son, Jesus, with the inspiration of our founder St. Claret through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit. Let everyone who forms himself to become missionaries’ burn with love of Christ, full of zeal and love for the Word of God.
We praise and thank the Lord for his marvellous blessings and pray that God continue to bless us in our needs. The celebration was held on the 26th of October, 2017.