The Formation Community during the Pandemic By Sem. John Siyumbu | Maryknoll Vocations
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The Formation Community during the Pandemic By Sem. John Siyumbu

Greetings from the Formation Community in Chicago! It is close to a year since the first restrictions related to Covid-19 came into effect. The last in-person class at CTU was on March 13, 2020. A new way of studying for ministry beckoned us as classes were conducted online and in-person ministry became unavailable. The beginning of the pandemic was a time with lots of signs. God invited us to discern and separate the transient and ephemeral from the enduring and timeless. God’s graciousness to us during this Covid-19 pandemic points us to the steadfastness of God’s word of love that never passes (Isaiah 40:8). Our intercultural and multigenerational community has not witnessed a case of infection thus far. It has been a blessing to continue having our community liturgical schedules throughout the pandemic. These moments of communal prayer helped sustain the light of God in our community and world during one of the dark nights of our generation. The fire and zeal for the Mission of Maryknoll has kept burning in our muted celebrations of some vocational milestones by our members – the making of a permanent oath and the renewal of temporary oaths. These were livestreamed so that we could share these moments with the wider Maryknoll community and our families across the globe. In the midst of a global pandemic, we strove to build a community that drew from our diverse cultures in preparation for the Mission of Church. We took turns making our meals when multiple stay-at-home orders sought to protect our House Staff and all Chicagoans from Covid-19. We have had sumptuous dinners. That Fr. Rector’s fish recipe can beat the Food Network Chefs’ is a settled matter among us.

In collaboration with members of the Maryknoll Sisters’ Formation House, we participated in ministerial ventures that sought to supply packaged sandwiches to local food depositories. With our in-person ministerial engagements curtailed by the raging virus, making sandwiches in the safety of our house offered a pragmatic way of adapting to the signs of the times in Mission. Some aspects of our own formation programs such as the Intercommunity Novitiate had been reduced to online interactions over Zoom sessions. Together, and in solidarity with others in the world, we adapted to a virtual world that helped to maintain ministerial, educational and pastoral relationships threatened by a global pandemic. Our Formation Community is a gift to us. Our interactions in community have emphasized the beauty and sanctity of the Mission of Jesus Christ to all in our Common Home. Formation continues to strengthen our resolve to learn the ways of Maryknoll, to follow Jesus Christ closely so that we may be transformed in the Mission of Christ and the Church. In this, we know that all will work for the good of the Missions of Maryknoll and for the glory of God. Amen.

Institution to the Ministry of Acolyte for Sem. John Siyumbu (center)

held on October 31, 2020 at the Formation House in Chicago

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