The three Zones comprising of the North, West and Central Zone experienced an “Arrupe Month” or as we coin it ‘the Pre-Ordination Programme’ from the 19 April, 2017 to the 18 May, 2017 at Woodcot, Kurseong. Under the hospitality of the Darjeeling Jesuits and the fatherly care by Br. Gabriel Gurung, the POP kick-started with a sense of seriousness as well as companionship of 30 scholastics.
Fr. Kinley Tshering, the Provincial of Darjeeling along with Fr. Lawrence, the PCF of Darjeeling encouraged us to get into the spirit of this programme and welcomed us to experience the warmth of the Darjeeling Province with its culture and heritage. Fr. Lawrence co-ordinated this POP programme – with the smooth co-ordination of the PCF’s of these zones. Schs. Amid Kujur (DAR) and John Messi (BOM) were appointed to take responsibility of the smooth running of the POP programme. The stalwarts of the Programme, namely Fr. George Beck (DUM) along with Fr. Geoff Meagher (HAZ) gave the theologians a wonderful experiences to remember, memories to cherish for a life-time.
Fr. Shajumon, the Rector of St. Joseph’s School, North Point got us into the spirit of the programme with the Letter of Arrupe, reminding us of our role and commitment as Jesuits and in future – our role as Jesuit Priests. Topics like Faith, Motivation and Priesthood got the best out of us through interactions, personal sharing and, not forgetting the inspirational insights from the life of Fr. Shajumon himself.
Sr. Mary, presented to us the Psycho-Sexual-Spiritual-Integration in a perspective that most of us would have taken for granted. Looking at a woman’s viewpoint on sexuality and stressing our role to become mature Jesuits and priests, challenged our thinking pattern and our dedication towards a life of celibacy. Sr. Mary guided us through interactive sessions and group discussions on our need to respond to the challenges we face as religious as well as how we need to equip ourselves as religious to become Jesuits par excellence!
Dr. Sandhya, the Principal of Loyola College of Education, Namchi, gave us sessions on “Senses Management”, teaching us to value our senses as well as how do we need to channelize our senses to bring in change, a sense of warmth and peace. Fr. Geoff Meagher, provided us his expertise on Discernment, giving us situations as to how to discern, and more importantly the tradition of the Society of Jesus as to how we need to use this great tool provided by our Father St. Ignatius.
The Pilgrimage walk to our past heritage, St. Mary’s Kurseong, which now belongs to the Forest Department, enabled us to pray as well as enjoy the beauty of the hill-side of Kurseong. The Mission experience at St. Joseph’s North Point School and College in Darjeeling, the Novitiate at Kalimpong, the areas of Mirik, St. Alphonsus School, Kurseong, and the other parts of the Darjeeling District helped us to witness the works of the Darjeeling Jesuits and their zeal and passion towards the apostolate. What was more pleasing to us was their warmth and hospitality which really made us feel at home.
Fr. George Beck gave us the 8-day retreat, putting us into the mood of what we experienced in the three weeks as well as to experience the Lord! Like a Good Shepherd along with his sense of wit and wisdom, he put us at ease with his inspiring talks of his life as a Jesuit. He instilled in us the need to ask the Lord for the grace to become Jesuits outstanding in holiness and intellectual acumen.
We thank the Woodcot Community, especially the Superior, Fr. Tom Pullankav, not forgetting Br. Gabriel Gurung along with his team for making our experience of POP special and a one to remember. We also thank the Provincial and PCF of Darjeeling for making the POP program as days well spent in helping us to become rooted in our vocation to be other ‘Christs’ in our ministry of Servant Leadership!
[Malcolm is a 2nd year student of theology at Vidyajyoti, Delhi]