As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?» Ps 42, 1-2. (NRSV).
Yes, every religious person in this world longs and thirsts for God. Therefore, in order to fulfil this thirst one goes for prayer, retreat, renewal course etc. We SVDs and SSpS in the region of Mozambique every three years do a seminar and retreat together as Arnoldian family in order to deepen in us the spirituality of our Founder. We began this faith-strengthening practice from 6 to 16 of January in 2004 oriented by Fr. Tomás SVD and Sr. Marta Maria SSpS at Milevane in the diocese of Gurúe. Since then every three years we come together for this. It was in 2007 from 4 to 16 of January at Marera in the diocese of Chimoio oriented by Sr. Matilde Wandenbruck Sacardo SSpS, in 2009 from 5 to 10 of January guided by Fr. Jorge Fernandes SVD, in Beira in the Archdiocese of Beira, in 2012 from 23 of Abril to 4 of May preached by Fr. Renato SVD and Sr. Emmie, Emmiliana Matilda Vas SSpS at Marera in the diocese of Chimoio, in 2015 from 17 to 26 of November at Milevane in the diocese of Gurúe preached by Fr. Tony Pates SVD from Steyl and Sr. Rosil SSpS from Mozambique. In this year, 19 SVD confreres and 15 SSpS sisters, a total of 34 participants, made use of this opportunity from 9 to 19 of January 2018, in the Pastoral Centre, Guiua of the Diocese of Inhambane, Mozambique. With the help and orientation of Fr. Tony Pates SVD from Steyl and Sr. Matilde Wandenbruck Sacardo SSpS from Brazil, we began our seminar and retreat on the 9th of January 2018, with the theme «Discípulos missionários enraizados na Trindade, testemunhas e construtores da comunhão» i.e., Missionary disciples rooted in the trinity, witnesses and builders of communion. First three days were dedicated for the seminar during which we reflected on the term ‘Koinonia’ Communion, the Trinitarian communion and the four aspects of it in our life namely Intra, Inter, Trans and Eco-Communion. We commenced our seminar by a procession from the Parish Church to the conference hall in which the sessions were held by Fr. Tony and Sr. Matilde. Day by day, the input sessions were becoming more and more interesting with lots of dynamic and reflective activities and inputs which helped us reflect on our personal, community and missionary life. This seminar in a way helped us to be more in communion with oneself, with others and with God in order to be effective missionaries following the example of our Founder.
We had a day of outing after the seminar, to the naturally beautiful Tofo beach where we spent a quality time in the experience of the different aspects of ‘Koinonia’. After which we slipped into complete silence to enter into contemplation and prayer and to spend time with oneself and with God.
Though we were far away from our ministry places, each community had the opportunity to bring the problems that exist and the hopes we have for our missions during the daily Eucharistic Adoration. The highlight of the retreat was the silent pilgrimage to the cemetery of 22 Mozambican martyrs, catechists and their families, who were assassinated in the year 1992 for their faith in Jesus, around 3 kms away from the centre. It was faith-strengthening moments for each one of us. During the thanksgiving Eucharist on the final day, we renewed our vows and commitment to the call of our Master in order to return to the harvest fields with the new vigour and enthusiasm ‘for the harvest is plenty, but the labourers are few’.
The seminar and retreat was indeed a Grace-filled and refreshing time together as one family of St Arnold. And of course, it was an opportunity to come out of our interior and difficult mission stations to spend quality time together enjoying the company of one another and to regain our strengths. We thank God and are grateful to Fr. Tony and Sr. Matilde for their valuable guidance and presence with us.
The trinity is a missionary community: the Father sent his Son, the Word and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity is mission, because the Trinity is communion. Mission is communion.
SVD Mozambique Region.