Session for Seniors in Rome: Choose Life!
A session that is worth while
session in Rome for the older confreres (around 75 years) is always
a great success. Last year, a dozen or so confreres were asked
to postpone their participation for a year because the group would
have been too big to manage (We do not like to have more than
20 participants). The number of requests is not due, uniquely,
to the numbers of confreres in this category to day. The expectations
expressed at the beginning of the meeting explain why so many
want to come. For the majority of the confreres, who participate,
there is, first of all the attraction of the place: Rome and the
Because in the heart of the big house, one venerates
the remains of our founder and one finds the history of the Society.
Then, in autumn, the Eternal City, at the heart of Christianity,
glows with colour. Rome is a special spiritual place and an open
history book to the inquisitive explorer. As for the welcome by
the community at the General House, it is always very friendly.
The house is a crossroads of nations, one meets there many confreres
coming from all parts of the world especially Africa. The welcome
given by members of the General Council and those responsible
for the various services in the society is particularly appreciated.
In the first few days of the session a guided tour of the house
is given. Its worthwhile to discover the commitment, often unheralded,
that goes on in the hidden offices spread throughout the building.
There is also the wish to meet confreres of the same age, some
of whom have not seen each other since the days of formation.
The house echoes with shouts of greetings during the first days
of the reunion. Nonetheless, there is, especially, at this important
moment of life, the desire to take some time for a quiet, contemplative
rereading of one's life, in a spirit of friendship, and to restore
one's missionary vocation of today in order to renew the covenant
by turning towards the years which remain to be lived.
A human and spiritual itinerary in prayer and relaxation.
What is proposed to the participants, during these three weeks,
is a process in three steps A first step is devoted to remembering
and welcoming the important stages of one's personal and community
life in a spirit of thanksgiving and, even in a spirit of reconciliation
and acceptance, with regard to the wounds and deceptions of the
past. The second step consists in taking charge, once again, of
one's missionary identity in a context of ageing and advancing
years. It is often the moment of recognising increasing frailties,
of integration and, for some, to take a definitive decision to
return home. The third part of the meeting is oriented toward
the art of growing old gracefully without sourness or bitterness,
recognising the passing time but in keeping a missionary enthusiasm
devoted more to prayer.
The easygoing pace of the meeting aims at promoting, at the same
time, self acceptance relaxation, and fraternal sharing. The rhythm
of celebrations, short talks on concrete issues, the sharing is
small groups, individual tourism or group outings in Rome (archaeological
site at St. Peter's) or in it's vicinity (pilgrimage to Assisi)
brings to this Roman experience both profundity and rest. There
is also enough free time so that each one can find his proper
pace of life.
To be Missionary in another way.
The organisers are often struck by the fact that the participants
remain open to Africa and to the commitments of the Society. They
want to continue living their missionary commitment in a way that
is adapted to their age. Many recognise, in their final evaluation,
that the meeting has helped them understand better their missionary
role despite their old age and declining health. Some put the
emphasis on praying for the mission; others seek to join up with
Old Folk groups just to be present, in all simplicity with their
Lets finish by giving some extracts from the
'A greater intimacy with the Lord and an aspiration to maintain
it. Openness to the art of ageing, even if I am still relatively
young and want to return to Africa! I am getting old physically
but psychologically and spiritually, I feel younger and I am becoming
'It has reinforced the idea that I came with, to
live more intensely the present moment having God and my confreres
as reference points. I am confirmed in my conviction that I am
in the hands of a compassionate and merciful God.'
'I need to integrate my past which is an integral
part of my life storey of love with God. Condition: The absolute
faithfulness of God, unconditional love.'
'The drawbacks of old age give me the chance to
be more missionary on the spiritual plan: my life with the Lord.
I am invited to have total confidence in Him.'
'We accept to live a new lap on our missionary journey
after returning from Africa for health reasons. We do that in
the perspective of a new vision and to approach things and events
serenely. We have confidence and certainty that the Lord will
support us for the better in his plan of love for us at the present
Let us give thanks for these insights and be with
our elderly confreres in prayer
The session for Seniors (70 years) and the
Session of Transition (60 years ) have, essentially, the same
objective, each adapted to it's age group
Translated by Ian Buckmaster M.Afr