By Placide Ngoie Munanga | en français
Where am I after 50 or so years of religious life as a Xaverian Brother? My feet are planted firmly in this unique village of my destiny. I am aware that I have grown by going through several conversions, a few transformations. In addition, I do not feel at all isolated or alone. I am in this multicultural village and I feel formed by all that is unfolding. There is life in abundance!
However, at the same time I sense that the story of my life is not over in the sense that I still struggle to be always rooted in the life, each time with a renewed and even more committed awareness despite all sorts of physical challenges. I feel still capable of sharing a wider plan with the other inhabitants of this one village. More and more I understand that I must turn away from my concerns in order to concentrate on what is essential with the other members who are younger than I—from the postulancy, the novitiate, the scholasticate, the active communities and the educational centers for abandoned and marginalized youth without looking for favors or other perquisites. Yes, I have sincerely been attracted by the ordinary and I have always felt called to the common.
What are the dispositions and hopes within me that seem to give me a foundation or attitude that expresses the Xaverian style, the Xaverian spirit?
First of all, I struggle to think of the other person, whoever he may be, however small he may be, as a gift. It is only in this light, however, that I will value him and think of him as someone created in the image and likeness of God. I believe that the right relationship with people, be they small, or rich or poor, consists in recognizing with gratitude their value, their giftedness. This attitude allows me to open the door of my heart to welcome everyone without discrimination, be it about a tribe or anything else because for me to welcome is to evangelize.
Another attitude that I would want to cultivate ardently in this one village is empathy in the accompanying of our young Brothers. Let me explain myself: I would want to enter into the young person’s life to know what he is feeling and what he is experiencing in life.
- Young people have need of mature and responsible men who know self-control and are able to give good example, and who are able to instill in the young the hope of living a healthy and acceptable life.
- The young need concrete examples of edifying witnesses who show them the potential of a full life. I would want to confront the young objectively with the real demands of the Xaverian religious life.
- I want to walk side by side with the young, because without accompaniment, the young feel abandoned to themselves and are easily turned over to external concerns that inevitably destroy them.
What was Theodore James Ryken’s apostolic intuition with regards to poor, youth, the abandoned, and marginalized youth? How can I recreate in myself this founding intuition, that is to say, the practical attitudes and strategies to support the hope of the marginalized youth?
- I am called to familiarize myself and to be in solidarity with them in order to know how to welcome them without discrimination based on tribe , or their past, or their problems.
- I must trust them, a trust based in faith in their ability to succeed, to change, to learn and to mature and eventually to become responsible and take charge.
- I must plant the seeds in them of a gospel-centered vocation to promote the dream of justice, the dream of peace and the dream of caring for creation.
How can I help to awaken and promote the attitude and the educational competencies related to our Xaverian tradition in our lay collaborators, teachers, and administrators in our educational communities?
I must organize meetings and educational workshops for all our educational communities in order to familiarize them with the attitudes and competencies of Xaverian education:
- a deep devotion to the Church through the ministry of education;
- a lay spirituality that affects each person’s growth in charity, humility, generosity, and complete devotion to education, and to the growth and spiritual formation of the young;
- a commitment to the poor and needy in order to support a quality education to families that cannot afford a Catholic education;
- a developing of the qualities of Xaverian educational programs and pedagogy: an excellence at all levels of a program that affects aspects of the interior, spiritual, and social life and at the same time considers and respects the dignity of each person as a unique expression of the love of God.
The question now becomes how to practice and live the very example of the Founder. How do I practice and live what Brother Jan DeVadder called in his book, The Vision, the Founder’s sense of humanity, his humanness?
It is a question of recognizing the good in each of my Brothers and expressing this to them. I can do this, for example, by saying, “I admire your capacity for work and I encourage you not to wear yourself out. I appreciate the attention you pay to your Brothers in serving them; do not tire yourself. In any circumstance, it is a question of saying, Please, my Brother. Thanks, my Brother. Pardon, my Brother.” Three simple yet important words to ease life in community, in this one unique village.