On November 21, 2016, 12 postulants of the Province of East Nigeria were accepted to postulancy in Utonkon, Nigeria. The occasion took place in the middle of my animation visit to the formation communities of the organisms of West Nigeria, East Nigeria, and Cameroon. The new postulants had been in the postulancy community for a week at the time of their acceptance and came from the different parts of the country.
The animation visit took place from November 9 to December 10 for the three organisms. I was grateful to meet the formandi from different cultures and countries going through their different levels of initial formation. In West Nigeria, the organism is blessed with 14 postulants from all over the country as well as 18 students from Congo, Cameroon, and the host country.
The Province of East Nigeria has 84 philosophy students, 26 of whom are professed. They come from Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria. In the theology level, they have 13 students, all of whom are from Nigeria.
After my visit to Nigeria, I went to Cameroon where I was first accommodated at the Novitiate community in Ekalie which had 18 novices from the following locations: Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Sao Tomé y Principe, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Congo, Gabon, and Cameroon. The Antony Probst Novitiate House of Cameroon welcomes candidates from these countries. The community has three formators, two from Cameroon and one from Congo.
The 36 students of the professed community in Cameroon come from Congo, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé y Principe, Gabon, Central Africa, Togo, South Africa, and Cameroon. They are accompanied by four formators, three are from Cameroon and one from Burkina Faso.
In the aspirancy, there are 46 formandi from five different countries with three formators from three distinct cultures of Cameroon.
This intercultural presence in the different formative communities of this region of Africa is a blessing to the organisms and to the Congregation. Pope Francis talked strongly about opening ourselves to interculturality rather than turning our backs to it. I am happy to find ourselves in the same direction. Still, this brings about concrete challenges to all of us. The accompaniment and formation of intercultural and international communities is a serious task. It is complicated and challenging. That is why, I would like to thank all those people, the superiors, our formators, and collaborators, who continue to give their precious time to the formation and accompaniment of our formandi. They do not only prepare these young men to be Claretian missionaries but at the same time, secure the future of our life and mission.
The Congregation is taking a bold step in pushing to this direction; however, this reality invites us to better equip ourselves because of its demands and prepare to what the future holds. We do not need to fast track the work but we also cannot ignore or become complacent in addressing the challenges. We pray that God may grant us the strength and wisdom to go ahead confident of His fidelity to us and of the thought that we can depend on each other in this community of brothers.