Challenges of formation in religious life in Africa

From 23 to 27 January 2023, the international meeting of the initial formation teams of the international meeting of the initial formation teams of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit (first basic formation for entering religious life) and of the Vice-Provincials of Africa – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria – was held in the Vice-Province of Cameroon. This meeting took place at the welcome house of the diocese of Maroua-Mokolo (Cameroon) where Sister Angèle SILIKAM, Vice-Provincial, and Sister Judith MBOUNGHOUL, responsible for initial formation, welcomed everyone and presented the programme of work.

Four days of reflection and exchange took place on current formation and the future of future DHS, the subject being: “The challenges of formation to religious life in our world of profound changes”. Justice HINMARA, formator at the inter-diocesan Major Seminary of Maroua, acted as translator. The topic of reflection was presented by Monsignor Faustin AMBASSA DJODO, Archbishop of Garoua, and by Sister Silvie ROAMBA.  The speakers brought us to the essentials of the formation of young girls in general and, in particular, the formation of young DHS, with the challenges to be met in our present world.  For Monsignor Faustin AMBASSA, the basis of formation to religious life is first the Christian faith.  The young woman and the formators must be Christian women convinced of their Catholic faith.  Formation is a very delicate work and is the work of the Spirit. More than an art, it has principles in which each one has hir own charism. The art is to lead towards the true Formator, Christ Himself. For Monsignor Ambassa, the main challenge of formation to religious life is the witness of life with the Virgin Mary as model. The Virgin Mary knows what her son can do and calls for discreet obedience, as at the wedding in Cana: “Do whatever he tells you”, and not “do whatever I say”. He thus compared the responsibility of the formators to a discreet shadow that gives way to Jesus, the Formator par excellence. The trainer, being a companion, is invited to adopt various attitudes: sometimes in front, sometimes behind, then to the side and often hidden.

Sister Silvie ROAMBA, Vice-provincial of Burkina-Faso, insisted on the witness of coherence of life of the formator.  She spoke of fraternity as a way of building charity, a fraternity which, following Christ, requires an evangelical radicalism in the face of the challenges to be faced regarding the spiritual crisis, the disaffection of all practices, the disorders of affectivity… She invited the formators to fall in love with Christ, the Congregation, and the community. She concluded by saying that the formators are like the backbone of the Congregation because they shape the future DHS!

The trainers of the different stages of the initial training presented in turn the contents and objectives of the training for each level, in French and in English. At the end of the meeting, some clauses were adopted for an adequate training in this world of deep changes.
This third international meeting of DHS formators ended in a spirit of conviviality.


Christine DIDJA, from the Vice-Province of Cameroon. Published on 28 February 2023.