The history and the activities of the Formation Ministry of the Religious in Uganda (FoMRU) dates back to March 2015. Since then, various achievements have been registered not withstanding the challenges met by the staff in carrying out the different activities and realization of future plans.
The ARU-Formation Ministry of the Religious in Uganda was an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, inviting members of Association of the Religious in Uganda (ARU)/ Conference of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Uganda (CICLSALU) to examine the quality of their lives as consecrated persons. It became clear that lifestyles were not up to what is expected of people who are called and set apart as witnesses in the vineyard of the Lord. Some members of ARU kept on asking about the anomalies that have become apparent in the lives of members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and wondered what the religious life would be like in 30 years to come if nothing was done to address them in time. Meanwhile some CICLSALU members on the continent of Africa expressed similar concerns to Stitching Porticus and other Partners related to Formation Process in their Institutes and its many challenges.
The ARU members feared that if the Consecrated Life continued to decline at the rate it was moving, the Consecrated Life would lose its original purpose or aim, vision, mission and its prophetic nature of life. Its foundational heritage rooted in Christ would become meaningless. The Leadership of Institutes of Consecrated life in Uganda observed and felt an urgent need to set up a programme to respond to the issues related to the urgently needed formation of members. They hoped that this would bring about transformation by renewal of evangelical values to strengthen the consecrated persons to walk along the path of Jesus Christ by becoming conformed to him. Besides, the leaders observed that Ongoing Formation, a lifelong process, is so crucial for the consecrated persons in Uganda with a conviction that the initial formation is just a start. When the consecrated persons engage in constant reflection and renewal of their lives, they retain their intimacy with Jesus Christ and signal commitment and fidelity to him and adhere to their prophetic mission. They also pay attention to the signs of the times to become aware of its manifestations with adequate understanding of their impact.
Activities of the Formation Ministry of the Religious in Uganda
Out of personal interest in renewal of the consecrated life through her observation and experience of what was occurring in the Institutes of the Consecrated Life regarding the quality of religious formation, Sister Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC shared with and presented the need to Stitching Porticus for financial assistance to enhance religious formation in Uganda. One of the people with similar interest she reached out for a combined effort in reflection about the need to address the formation situation in Uganda was Sister Sophia Asiimwe, MSMMC who was then in Nairobi at Tangaza doing a course in Spirituality, prior to being elected as the current Superior General of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Mother of Church. Sister Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC immediately started to engage others to address the situation of formation of the consecrated persons. Consequently, she approached the General Secretary, the then Sister Margaret Kubanze, LSOSF, concerning the matter of formation of the consecrated persons in Uganda.
Stitching Porticus Africa as an agent of the overall development of the African people, including the members of the Institutes of the Consecrated Life, became part of the effort to address the issue of the religious formation in Uganda. Sr. Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC and Sr. Sophia Asiimwe, MSMMC, met the two representatives of Stitching Porticus Africa by names Christine Bodewes, the Regional Director of Porticus and Sarah Rank Grant Manager to discuss the issue of formation and thus drawing them in to take part in the effort related to existing quality of Formation. In March 2015, Porticus invited the two, Sr. Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC and Sr. Sophia Asiimwe, MSMMC, members of the Association of the Religious in Uganda, to think through formation issues and put their ideas and reflections in writing. These two Sisters spent time in prayer. After three days of prayer, they shared their reflections among themselves. They wrote down their reflections on paper to share them with Christine and Sarah in a brainstorming manner to produce a paper entitled “Brainstorming”.
In June 2015, the two Sisters on behalf of ARU and in partnership with Stitching Porticus spearheaded a survey on the Initial and On-going Formation of the consecrated persons of Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda; they sampled 15 Institutes. Sisters Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC, and Sophia Asiimwe, MSMMC, were joined by Irina Ivan selected by Porticus Africa to assist them to compile their findings after doing a survey. The survey in fact confirmed the prior concerns and observations voiced by their “Brainstorming” document and the previous heard voices of other members of ARU.
Launching a Survey
Sr. Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC, and Sr. Sophia Asiimwe, MSMMC, formulated a questionnaire which they used in their interview of members of each of the 15 Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda. In their survey, the two Sisters sought an understanding of the state of religious formation programmes in Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda. They found out that the Institutes have various explanations and practices in their programmes of formation. From this the two Sisters got a hint of what an ideal formation would be despite the key societal impeding trends that are impacting the lives of the consecrated persons and their formation. Their findings enticed them to examine how formation houses were financed by the Institutes.
The results showed that most Formators in the selected Institute for the survey were not trained. According to the compiled report of their findings, it was revealed that 49% of Formators were trained while 51% were working without training in the formation houses. They only served out of goodwill and due to the demand of such services. It was also discovered that none of the 15 Institutes visited had a General Formation Plan (GFP). Houses of Formation were also poorly financed thus, resulting into a situation where, members and formees live in scarcity with negative consequences on themselves and the community. Their physical needs overshadowed the values of formation related to their religious identity with Christ, Church and the goals of their Founders/Foundresses in establishing Institutes of Consecrated Life. The situation became overwhelming since it affected many institutes who were interviewed.
Such things like on-going formation through reading, updated workshops and courses were almost non-existent. Most of the indigenous Institutes were still relying on giving preached retreats without offering guided or directed retreat, except for a few institutes who could afford to do that. While Spiritual Direction was also rare among members who were examined in the survey. Community meetings lacked substantial content and this made community living based on common life but not on fraternal communion. The findings were compiled into a booklet and presented to a selected group of 31 ARU Institutes’ leadership. It was this fact finding that led: Sr. Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC and Sr. Sophia Asiimwe, MSMMC, and others, to be moved by the content of the findings on the ground, and to suggest that an office be opened to coordinate formation activities in Uganda
Establishment of the Office
On June 1, 2016, ARU Executive formally appointed Sister Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC, as the Coordinator of Formation Ministry of the Religious in Uganda (FoMRU). Sister Margaret Magoba, OLGC, the then Director of Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre, offered the Coordinator a room for office and accommodation at Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre Namugongo (USFCN) at the request of ARU Secretariat. The office is still being used for FoMRU activities. In September 2016, the FoMRU Coordinator bought a vehicle, no. UAZ- 001L to help in the running of the activities of the office. The FoMRU leadership identified a driver (Moses Kasoma) and employed him as a part time driver to work twice a week and he is still does it to date.
On October 4, 2016, ARU Executive appointed Sister Liberata Mandhawun, MSMMC, as an Assistant Coordinator to work on part- time basis; three times a week. Due to the work load in the office, the FoMRU Coordinator later asked Sr. Liberata to begin to serve as a full time worker. As the work of the office became more intense, the FoMRU staff had to recruit a Financial administrator, (Norman Mugisha), to help in the finance department; he was identified and appointed in June 2017.
On December 17, 2017, the then Coordinator, Sr. Romina Nyemera, OLGC, was elected to the leadership of her Institute of the Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The office of coordination fell vacant. The following year, 2018, Sister Rita Namayanja, IHMR, and Sister Cecilia Nibyobyonka, RIP OLGC, were identified by ARU Secretariat to fill this vacancy. Rita was employed as the new Coordinator while Sr. Cecilia RIP was appointed as an Assistant Coordinator.
Some of the Activities Undertaken by the Office of ARU- FoMRU
Activity 1: Setting up of FoMRU Office: the office was established and this was timely and it has been functional since then.
Activity 2: Formation of Sensitization Committee and Sensitization Activities in Institutes:
Nine consecrated persons from different Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda were identified and invited for a five-day workshop (at the Convent of the Dominican Sisters at Namugongo from October 24 – 28, 2016). This workshop was meant to prepare members of the committee for later Sensitization Exercise in Institutes.
The Sensitization Committee for the Sensitization Exercise was composed of 11 consecrated persons; both women and men. The members included the following:
- Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC
- Liberata Mandhawun,MSMMC
- Clementine Atim , LSMIG
- Sophia Asiimwe , MSMMC
- Mary Mukamwezi, DMJ
- Stella Kanyunyuzi, DST
- Fidelis Mwesigye, OFM
- Anthony Fidelis Muleme, BSCL
- Rosaria Masawe, LSOSF
- Rita Namayanja, IHMR
- Louise Kemigisha, OLGC
Prior to the above mentioned workshop, some of the invited participants were given different topics to develop for the Sensitization Exercise in Institutes. The Sensitization Exercise in Institutes was participatory; participants freely shared their experiences of life and of their apostolates and the challenges of the consecrated life. The shared information was included in the General Formation Plan (GFP); where the list of the attendants and their Institutes is attached.
According to the plan, the two days of Sensitization Program, which started in December 2016 to 2018, was meant to reach 50 groups of the consecrated persons from various Institutes. However, the managed to reach 49 groups of consecrated persons the remaining one (1) Institute is still to be reached.
The Objectives of the Sensitization Exercise
- To expose participants to the actual situation on the ground for reflection and taking home the outcome from the total group
- To provide opportunity for deeper reflection and a means of renewal of the participants.
- To enable the participants to resonate with the reality on the ground so that they can take home to their Institutes the Survey Report
- To give ARU an outlet to reach out to the consecrated persons in their Institutes through FoMRU
- To identify future collaborators in the ministry of Formation in their institutes and pastoral activities.
- To get from the participants through their sharing of experiences some material for General Formation Plan (GFP) in order to help ARU FoMRU to select suitable courses for the Initial and On-going formation.
The topics developed during the Sensitization Exercise included the following:
- Religious Identity and the actual situation (reality) on the ground through the survey done in different Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda.
- Impact of societal trends on the Consecrated Life.
- Challenges in formation houses and how these can be reversed.
- Need to establish a General Formation Plan as a mandatory tool for formation.
- Importance of On-Going Formation in Institutes and the role of the Uganda Spiritual Formation Center – Namugongo in the renewal and formation of consecrated persons.
- Role of finances in the formation of consecrated persons and the financial sustainability of Institutes
- Need for Transformative Prayer in consecrated life.
Activity 3: Development of Strategic Plan
In November 2016, ARU-FoMRU staff/team formed a committee to design a Strategic Plan of Activities for three years, from 2017 to 2020. The committee worked together with an international consultant, Isabel de Bruin Cardoso who was identified by Stitching Porticus to help FoMRU. Members who participated in the aforementioned exercise included the following:
- Margaret Kubanze, LOSF, Secretary General of ARU
- Hilda Bamwine, RSCJ, Religious in-Charge of ARU Formation
- Romina Nyemera, OLGC, Coordinator of FoMRU.
- Liberata Mandhawun, MSMMC, Assistant coordinator FoMRU
- Anna Mary Mukamwezi, DMJ, co-opted member of Sensitization group
- Rita Namayanja, IHMR, co-opted member of Sensitization group.
- Fidelis Mwesigye, OFM, co-opted member of Sensitization group.
The final copy of the Strategic Plan was developed with the help of Isabel de Bruin Cardoso and was presented to FoMRU in March 2017. This document gave the office a sense of direction in implementing the activities of ARU-FoMRU up to date.
Activity 4: Development of General Formation Plan (GFP)
The work of developing the ARU-FoMRU General Formation Plan (GFP) began in 2016. At this point the document is in its final draft waiting to be critiqued by ARU Formation Team before they submit to the General Executive Secretary of ARU who in turn is responsible for submitting to the Association of the Major Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda (AMSIRI) for further analysis before approval by them. The development of the GFP is the fruit of synergies of many people who worked in the front and back scenes. In the development of the GFP, FoMRU team was helped by studying some samples of GFP from some International Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda. The FoMRU team also used other resourceful literature such as Church documents on Consecrated Life, the Bible, Canon Law, Documents of Vatican II Council, Professional sources and shared experiences of consecrated persons during the Sensitization Exercise.
The first draft of GFP was developed by Dr. Getrude Abuno, Sr. Romina Nyemera, OLGC, Sr. Liberata Mandhawun, MSMMC, Br. George William Kamanda, FIC, and Br. Francis Byarugaba, FIC. This same document was sent to Nairobi to Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ and Sr. Mary Gitau IBVM for study and analysis. The duo further refined the document with their professional touch. FoMRU team further identified Sister Peter Paul Nakitende, GSS, to make an additional input to the chapter on Financial Sustainability in Institutes. Then this GFP document was later handed over to Sr. Cecilia Nibyobyonka, RIP, OLGC and Sr. Rita Namayanja, IHMR to study the insertion that were made by the two previous editors of GFP and to adopt these insertions to be included into the document thus, making the current and final draft. Sr. Romina B Nyemera, OLGC also read the draft and asked the two sisters working on the document to make further reflection to deepen their understanding and widen their knowledge of the content of GFP through their own research to contribute to this final draft.
The FoMRU team requested each indigenous Institute of Consecrated Life in Uganda to bring to completion the General Formation Programme by composing a mandatory chapter on their own Charisms that would be part of GFP. The FoMRU team has already received a few copies, about 10 out of 15 from some Institutes and is now waiting for other Institutes to submit their Charism documents. This chapter is expected in the office of FoMRU since the end of August 2019 from those who have not yet submitted their work. The team thanks some of the Institutes that have already submitted the chapter on charism. The FoMRU Office is still open for consultation to guide those institutes that need help. The international Institutes depend on what they already have which is supplied by the General Team of their Institutes.
Further Action to Give Help Those Developing Their Charism Document
- The FoMRU team will handle each submission of the charism document one by one from the various Institutes to assist each Institute of Consecrated Life in Uganda understand, own and proclaim its charism in a comprehensive manner of the charism according to the life and mission of the Church.
- The FoMRU team is ready to give the same assistance to those Institutes who missed attending the workshop on charism given by Bro R. Cruz in January, 2019.
These two steps to help the Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda have been scheduled to take place as soon as possible. However, for individual help, the FoMRU team was available to give help within their offices between October-November, 2019.
Activity 5: Development of a Set of Criteria for Identifying Eligible Religious for Training
The FoMRU staff developed a set of criteria for identifying eligible candidates for training for formation. This set of criteria was presented to the Assembly of the Major Superiors in November 2017. They criteria was critiqued by the major superiors at their Assembly and they added more points for improvement. The said criteria are described in GFP, chapter 4.
To help the Leadership of the Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda to apply their wisdom, reflection, discernment and use their faith in the selection of members to be trained as formators. They are also invited to consider various areas of the human and faith growth and development in the selection of candidates. These areas include:
MATURITY OF THE CANDIDATE FOR THE SELECTION OF A MEMBER TO TRAIN AS A FORMATOR
Levels of maturity at various levels of the Person are considered accordingly:
- HUMAN DIMENSION:
- The chronological age bracket of between 35 to 55 years of age
- A Member with a capacity for initiating activities and is willing and interested in the work of formation.
- A member well versed in communication skills to facilitate mutual relationships
- A member who is simple, flexible, approachable with open mind and heart to learn.
- A member with self-knowledge, knowing her/his potential, abilities and weaknesses who has the spirit of self-acceptance and acceptance of others who may also be struggling in their limitations for spiritual values
- Has the capacity to review her motivation and actions and to accept criticism which is a means to personal growth.
- A person who is optimistic in life despite the many challenges encountered in life
- AFFECTIVITY MATURITY DIMENSION:
- A member with a balanced expression of emotions and/or feelings, capable of appropriate reactions to situations
- A person who can withstand stress when facing challenges
- A person who is in charge of her/his own emotions (being in control)
- A person capable of making friendships without clinging
- A compassionate person who can encourage when others are despairing
- A person who relates freely with of other human beings of both sexes
- INTELLECTUAL DIMENSION
- Allocates time for personal reading for acquisition of more knowledge for personal growth and for formation of others.
- A person capable of delivering clear messages with content to others through developed personal skills of communication Has
- A member who is sufficiently intelligent with sufficient academic background (above HSC level)
- A person capable of objective analysis, who can critically question, and make mature conclusion
- A person with adequate basic academic background in Theology, Scripture, and Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- FAITH-SPIRITUAL DIMENSION
- A person able to experience the presence of God in people, events, signs of the time and even in the most difficult situation
- A person who is capable of placing one’s trust in the Lord and is ready to be led by him to conversion.
- A person who has the ability to personally accompany others on their journey while keeping their confidences
- A religious who has made perpetual vows with some years of experience in religious life that can help in the work of formation of the candidates.
- A person capable of solitude that nurtures inner silence
- A person interested in fostering her/her own vocation and continuous formation through personal and community prayers, days of recollection, annual retreats, reading of the Bible and other spiritual sources and loves to develop and grow in the sense of protecting her/his vocation
- A person with a spirit of self-sacrifice.
- A person of gratitude to the Lord for the countless blessings received
- A person awake to one’s weakness and to the impeding reality around that can hinder her/his progress and is ready to work on one’s ego of self-love, self-interest, and deal with self
- A person –convinced that pastoral ministry starts from Christ and is done through an intimate relationship in prayer with Him, and it does not centre on what one does
- MORAL DEVELOPMENT DIMENSION
- A member who is convinced of the belief- and- values systems that govern her/his behaviour
- A person who has a grasp of moral principles for action in reference to God’s Law or to an ethical coded/cultural norm (societal, own Institute of Consecrated Life)
- A person who makes judgments and decisions based on the principles of moral or ethical norms, but not on favouritism
- A person capable of standing for and defending the truth, even in the face of opposition
- DIMENSION OF CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE
- A member who is knowledgeable of the nature and impact of cultures
- A person who is appreciative of other people’s cultures
- A person capable of embracing cultural diversity and adaptation to various cultural situations, foods
- A person capable of passing on the positive aspects of any culture and disclosing what challenging elements are present in culture
- A person willing to learn a new language of another cultural group of people and to interact with them in the locality of her/his mission
- PSYCHO-SEXUAL AND SOCIAL DIMENSION:
- A member who is aware of her/his sexual nature as a human person
- A person who is aware of human sexual development in life and its challenges
- A person who lives with fellow human beings without biases based on sex
- A persons capable of recognizing and owning one’s emotions arising from one’s being
- A person willing to acknowledge sexual difference and using these differences for personal and other people’s development, growth and conversion
- An adult, who is able to understand the struggle of being truly human and truly spiritual
- SOCIAL-COMMUNAL DIMENSION
- A member capable of appreciating the giftedness of others and their individual personal contributions to the community
- A person capable of empowering others to develop skills in the area of their giftedness and interest.
- A person who respects other people’s experience and opinions for the building of the community
- A person able to work amicably with other people on daily basis, including the candidates, members of formation team and the Leadership of the Institute
- A person who is open to sharing ideas, material resources, prayer life and who actual gives her/his presence to others in community
- A person who easily and readily communicates personal programme, movement, challenges, and health condition with members of the community
- A person who practices balance in the use of modern system of communication and mass media with consideration to the community needs and practices.
- SOCIAL-LEADERSHIP DIMENSION
- A member who has some experience of leadership at some level in a community or in the ministry in the field of mission
- A person who can be a source of bonding with other people and who is capable of pulling them together for unity in society and in the community
- A person able to make right judgment in truth and compassion.
- A person of developed partiality to prevent segregation and favouritism
- A person with well-developed skills of interpersonal communication, e. g speaking and listening skills
- A person with a concern for the well- being and well-fare of other people, ready to serve
- ECCLESIAL DIMENSION
- A member who makes effort to acquire deeper knowledge of the teaching of the Church and the relation of the consecrated persons with the Church
- A member who has a heart for the good of the Church of Christ and its development
- A person who is ready to collaborate in the building of the Church
- A person convinced of her/his important role in the life of the Church of Jesus Christ as a believer and consecrated person
- A person with full knowledge that the Church is of, for and with people
- PASTORAL DIMENSION
- A member who practically knows her/his place in the spread of the faith in Jesus Christ through the Church
- A person who has passion for Christ and humanity to facilitate this communion between Him and humanity
- A person with interest and who actively participate in the Pastoral ministry of the local Church
- A person knowledgeable of the Christian doctrine to be able to teach it to others, especially the knowledge of the Catholic Catechism
- A person with a capacity to listen and counsel those with psychological, faith and spiritual problems
- A person ready to allowing self to grow in understanding, maturation and commitment in what she/he is doing under the guidance and in the name of the Church
- FOUNDATIONAL/CHARISMATIC HERITAGE
- A member who genuinely strives for a life of holiness in line with one’s Institute’s charism and by other means that the Catholic Church and her/his Institute offer
- A person who is convinced that her/his religious identity is founded on the baptismal call, on which the charism of her/his Institute springs from and this person stands for it even amidst challenges of life
- A person able to integrate the knowledge of the Charism, the mission and common values of the Institute in life and encourage other members to do similarly
- A person capable of identifying a vocation of the candidate as one uses the candidate’s understanding, assimilation and an exhibition of the life style of the candidate
- A person, who has the ability to discern a vocation, confirm it, accompany individuals, to solidify their vocation (Vocation Identity)
- A person with ability and interest to teach about the mission of the Institute’s charismatic heritage and spread it during the formation process she/he is responsible for
- A person with ability to link the candidates with the Leadership of the Institute through regular communication of coordination and collaboration
Activity 6: Curricular (Up-Date at USFC-Namugongo)
In March 2017, ARU FoMRU identified three Sisters: Sister Cecilia Nibyobyonka, RIP OLGC, Sister Theresa Namataka SMK, and Sister. Mary Teopista Tinkamanyire DM to up-date the Curricula at UFSC.
The Curricula writers worked together in collaboration with some staff of USFC, and the staff of FoMRU through regular meetings. The members added to the Curriculum writers to form a team were:
- Romina B. Nyemera, OLGC 1st FoMRU’s Coordinator
- Liberata Mandhawun, MSMMC Assistant FoMRU’s Coordinator
- Rita Namayanja, IHMR Member of FoMRU
- Margaret Magoba, OLGC the then Director USFC-N
- Annet Monica Nambuusi, IHMR the Staff of USFC-N
- Florence Achanda SHJ-Moyo the Staff of USFC-N
- Josephine Nafula, MMS Part time staff of USFC-N
By November 2017 the Curricular writers completed the first draft which was sent for critique to Nairobi to trusted and experienced religious editors by the names of: Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ and Sr. Mary Gitau IBVM for study and analysis. Due to the heavy schedule of these readers of the curricula document, another experienced religious; Bro. Reginald Cruz was identified by Porticus to check on the relevance of the three curricula.
Activity 7 Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop
From October10-12, 2018, ARU-FoMRU Staff attended a workshop in Monitoring and Evaluation facilitated by Isabel de Bruin Cardoso.
THE PURPOSE OF THE WORKSHOP
The FoMRU Team requested for the Workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation through Sr. Liberata Mandhawun, MSMMC for the following objectives:
- To help the staff gain skills in monitoring and evaluation of their different activities for members of ICLSAL. For the purpose of effective programme management of the Formation program.
- To understand how to measure the quality and impact of FoMRU activities on the Formation Programmes in Institutes for strengthening them.
- To acquire learning skills and gain right tools to implement the FoMRU programme activities as expected.
- To help FoMRU Team members improve their performance and management skills.
- To inform FoMRU Team for making report on the different grants and activities of the office.
The facilitator in her presentation, enlightened the staff on the importance of the following:
- Monitoring and Evaluation – learning.
- Reaffirming Key program – out come.
- Identifying leading questions for Monitoring and Evaluation.
- How can data be captured to form learning questions
- What can be done with the learning obtained?
During the workshop, FoMRU Staffs were able to review the different activities that were laid down in the ‘Strategic Plan’.
- The review helped the staff to look at successes, challenges, and new learning obtained from the workshop in carrying out different activities of the office.
- Team became conscious of documentation, and keeping of good record of the process of our activities, outcomes and learning experience received from programmes.
- The team became aware that measuring and monitoring the level of the effectiveness of the programs depends on having a Monitoring and Evaluation framework.
- Through monitoring, FoMRU members would be able to measure whether we are on the right track in helping the Religious in Uganda in the Formation processes.
- The team realized that there was a lot to be done in monitoring and evaluation of activities
- The workshop also helped the team to ask themselves some questions regarding activities, e.g. If sensitization programme in Institutes is completed, so what, what change has this led to, and what next?
- The Team identified gaps in holding regular meetings regarding coordination of activities, updating information for sharing and planning for activities amongst them.
- The Team recognized gaps in communication and opportune meetings between FoMRU and ARU Executive.
General Remarks by the FoMRU Team
- We were happy about the approach the facilitator used to keep us focused. For this we applauded Isabel!
- The participatory method helped us to understand better her inputs, and we became more enlightened
- The workshop gave us a clear sense of direction and some members said this had created more work but with a lot of clarity as we shall apply the frame work developed by Isabel and ourselves
Activity 8 Workshop on Charism
In reference to the importance of a complete General Formation Plan, the office invited Bro. Reginald Cruz – Xaverian, from 11 –13, January 2019, to enlighten the participants who had been commissioned to develop the Charisms document of their Institutes. The workshop aimed at deepening their knowledge, understanding, and experience of the nature of Charisms and also to guide participants on how to develop their Charism documents.
Activity 9: Financial Sustainability in Five Selected Institutes
The workshop on Financial Sustainability in the five (5) pilot Institutes was supposed to have taken place in 2018, but due to the challenge in identifying the right person to carry out this exercise it the activity was delayed for some time. We are now happy to inform you that at the end of last year, with the advice of some religious, Porticus identified a financial Consultant called Veronica. She signed a contract with ARU to start the work. She began her work with the five identified institute through written questionnaire. She began in Institutes from January to March 2019. The five pilot Institutes in this exercise included:
- Missionary Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church-Lira from January 3– 7, 2019.
- Little Sisters of St. Francis – Nkokonjeru from January 21 – 25, 2019.
- Daughters of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus- Fort Portal from February 4 -8, 2019.
- Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mbarara, from February 11 -15,
- Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix- Ggogonya from 11 -15, March 2019.
The financial consultant gave an intensive input on the importance of the four pillars of financial sustainability in Institutes of Consecrated Life. These pillars are: 1) Financial Planning & Budget, 2) Administration and Finance, 3) Income Diversification and 4) Own Income Generation. The workshops were participatory where members shared their experiences on how finances are managed and administered in their communities, Houses of Formation and in the Institute at large. Veronica encouraged and enlightened the participants on how to prepare a good detailed budget for a year. She gave a practical exercises to the participants to work out a specific budget. This helped participants to become more involved in the preparation of the Institutes’ budget. She emphasized the importance of transparency at all levels for good accountability and management of the Institutes’ finances.
She invited and encouraged Institutes to pay attention to the followings:
- Creation of Financial Policies
- Human Resource Management Policies
- The Savings and Investment Policies
- Creation of accurate organogram
- Clarification of The Role of Trustees in the Institute
- Review of the Strategic Plans of Institutes
- Record Keeping and Reporting
- The Need for Internal and External Auditors
The participants were happy for the knowledge they received which gave them a better sense of direction in the management of the finances in their communities and Institutes. The workshop was considered successful and timely.
The second phase of the training was for Follow- up on the impact of the previous workshop and the progress of these Institutes have made, which was scheduled to take place between June and July 2019.
The third phase of the financial training will be the sharing of knowledge and experience among the leadership team who have participated in the first workshop in view of learning from one another and building together a way forward.
According to Porticus, they will continue to support other Institutes through the workshops on Financial Sustainability.
Financial Workshop Offered as a Pilot Programme to Five Institutes of Consecrated Life
These workshops were given by a selected and experienced facilitator by name Veronica Mundrua from January to March this year 2019. They have enriched the institutes concerned about their financial status but they also have created more work for these Institutes to develop and review their financial policies to avoid financial leakages. She gave them some home exercise on re-examining their financial status to locate gaps that will be handled on her next visit to these same Institutes as a follow-up.
Extended Future Plan of Activities
Activity 1: Proposed Evaluation of the Impact of the Sensitization Exercise in Institutes
- This exercise of evaluation will involve those who carried out the Exercises of Sensitization in Institutes who will be invited to a meeting from August 31- September 1, 2019 and they will compose a questionnaire at that meeting that they will send to those who participated in the Exercise of Sensitization.
- FoMRU staff/team will compile the results after receiving the responses to the questionnaire of the participants from the Institutes
- The compiled results will help the FoMRU staff/team to make a fresh plan of responses to the actual needs in formation and renewal of the consecrated persons in Uganda
Activity 2: Development of Curricular for Formation and Ongoing Formation
The curricular to help the consecrated persons in their Formation and Ongoing Formation was not included in the GFP. The office is still developing the curricular based on the documents that members on Institutes submitted during the workshop in January.
Composing and writing the Curriculum of each of the 6 phases of Formation in Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda to accompany the General Formation Plan (GFP) will, cover:
- Come and See of the Temporarily Live-ins
- Candidacy — residing candidates
- Temporary Vows
Activity 3: Preparation of Two Religious Being Sent to Loreto Institute of Formation Ministry in Ireland for Training in Formation
Due to the shortage of the teaching staff at USFC-Namugongo, the office has been commissioned by ARU to prepare two religious women with the help of Porticus-Africa to go to Loreto Institute for Formation Ministry, Ireland, for nine (9) months. The two religious are: Sr. Rosemary Tindibakira and Sr. Margaret Abaho from the Institute of the Sisters of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mbarara. The Course will run from August 2019 to June 2020.
Activity 4: Workshop on Charism
The opportunity of the workshop on Charism will be extended to other Formators at different stages of formation (initial and on-going) and Chaplains in the near future.
Activity 5: Printing of the General Formation Plan after critic by the Formation team and its approval by the Major Superiors.
Activity 6: Composing a document or the Writing-up of a simplified version of the General Formation Plan (GFP) to be used for induction workshop for members of ARU in different regions. The simplified version of GFP will be sold to the participants
Activity 7: Giving Workshop to ARU Members at Regional Level.
During the monitoring and evaluation, we had last October; the team realized the need of reaching out to Institutes to unpack the GFP document to them after the approval. A proposal was made to have this exercise at Regional Level.
Activity 8: Incorporation of the insertions of Br R. Cruz related to the document of the three Curricula of the Courses at Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre. After writing the first draft of the Three Curricular, it was later resolved at the meeting of the Executive representative, Uganda Spiritual Formation Staff and FoMRU staff on the November 28, 2018 that two programme: Training and Formation of Formators and Spiritual Accompaniment and Retreat be combined into one programme whose name will be “Discipleship for Transformative Ministries.”
Activity 9: Induction of the Facilitators of USFC and other Staff.
After the final work on the Curricula, the Staff USFC will be availed with an opportunity of an Induction Workshop to study the vision, goals, objectives and methodology of delivery. This is take place before the inauguration of the new course of “Discipleship for Transformative Ministries.”
Activity 10: Launching of Transformative Formation. According to the Strategic Plan, this activity was scheduled to take place in 2019, however it was noted by ARU FoMRU and the Partners that it was too early to launch such a programme. This will then take place after the inauguration of the course of “Discipleship for Transformative Ministries.”
Activity 11: Assessment of Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre
According to the Strategic plan, the assessment of Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre was meant to get to know the impact of the Courses at the Centre on the participants, assessment of the Centre, the staff and needs of the Centre in terms of expansion and financial viability. This activity though was planned for; it could not be done without the mandate from ARU.
- Setting up of ARU- FoMRU Office at USFC Namugongo
Institutes’ leadership mandated ARU Executive to open an office to address formation issues. Therefore, an office was set up at Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre-Namugongo The establishment of an office was possible with the financial assistance given by Porticus Africa
- The Purchase of a car, Toyota double cabin UAZ 001 L
It was necessary and very helpful to get a car for movement of FoMRU Staff out carryout different planned programmes of the desk, e.g. Sensitization Exercise for Institutes, Workshops of financial sustainability, quick movement to the headquarters of ARU at Nsambya.
- Sensitization Program
This was carried out and it brought home the survey report to Institutes; participants were able to resonate with the actual situation on the ground and this prompted in them the desire for personal and communal self-examination to arouse determination for their renewal of life. The participants were made aware that every member of their specific Institute is a formator by virtue of their consecration. Another aspect that was emphasized during the sensitization exercise was the urgent need to train formators and the participants were encouraged and challenged to identify members of their specific Institute who could be trained for formation, spiritual direction and retreat giving; participants gave lists of those members. Participants were able to share their experiences some of which were captured in the General Formation Plan document. Through FoMRU’s programme of sensitization ARU was able to meet the consecrated persons at the grass-roots, in their Institutes.
- National General Formation Plan
This work has recently been presented to ARU Formation Committee and is being read and critiqued by members who will finally submit it to ARU Executive Committee for presentation to the major superiors for approval for use by all Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda as a contribution towards the Initial and Ongoing Formation plan for their members.
- Workshop on Charisms
This workshop was of great help in the understanding of the nature of charisms in the Church and in Institutes of Consecrated Life. It created a lot of work for the participants; it aroused interest and much desire in them to research for the deepening of the knowledge of their specific “charisms” so that they can go back to the root of their Institutional foundation in order to enhance the transformative agenda in their own lives for more commitment to their consecrated life and improved quality of formation of members. From the workshop by Br. Reginald Cruz, participants learned a new way of understanding the term “charism”. The new way is that “charism” cannot be defined but only described as a multi-dimensional phenomenon for each Institute of Consecrated Life. He explained to the participants’ different charisms that constitute the charisms of the Institute (1Cor 12: 4-11):
- Originating charism (context: action of the Holy Spirit communicated in the form of inspiration to founding individuals to address the sufferings and indifference of people in society of the time)
- Charism of the founder (agenda of the Spirit that is giving light and energy to start facing the context of the time)
- Founding charism (interweaving of personal charisms of both the founder and the first disciples or followers for development of the Institute and gradual formation of its unique character)
- Charism of the Institute (an aspect of the charism of the founder, and foundational charism that linger through the Institute for every member called to live it, safeguard, enrich and develop them through personal charisms)
- Personal charisms (referring to the specific charisms of individual members of the Institute)
The Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda are expected to include the same material on charisms as one chapter of the General Formation Plan document of their Institute.
- Creation of a Good Strategic Plan
Having a well-defined Strategic Plan by a Committee composed of an expert, ARU General Executive Secretary, Chairperson of Formation Team, some members of Sensitization Team and FoMRU Staff invited by the initiators of FoMRU we have been well guided in the execution of the activities of the FoMRU office.
- Updating the Three Curricula of USFC Namugongo
The development of the draft of the three curricula of USFC: Formation and Training of Formators, Spiritual Accompaniment and Retreat giving and of Renewal/Sabbatical programme was carried out to give content to each of these three programmes. The curricula have been submitted to Bro. Reginald, Xaverian in Nairobi, who is representing the office in Africa of Dicasterial work as an experienced technical person to critique the content of the document for its relevance using the directives of the Magisterium and Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life (CICLAL). We have a lot of hope that he will do a fine job with our document.
The work on the three curricula was made possible because of good working relationship and team spirit among the staffs of FoMRU, and of the of USFC- Namugongo and the commitment of writers to the work entrusted to them with support from occasional collaborative work with ARU Executive leadership who offered assistance through consultations and by financial support from Porticus Africa.
Challenges on the Ground
- In general reports on Formation at the annual meetings of the major superiors with an expectation of good input from them to give a new impetus or to avert dead ends of efforts are often left un-discussed.
- There are still few trained formators in Formation Houses of Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda to handle a big number of candidates that Institutes admit to be formed.
- Some formators are still working in Institute’s formation programmes without training in theory and skills of religious formation or without being updated for the formation ministry
- In some Institutes there are still many candidates with few formators, this poses a lot of challenges in the spiritual accompaniments of the formees, as a result they are not properly helped as expected and sometimes they go through the formation process without internalization.
- It is a general cry from formators and other observers that formation is not prioritized in some Institutes, especially with regard to appointments of formators and financial maintenance of the formation communities
- Senior novices who come to attend the one-month National Course are too many, which makes inputs difficult to handle with efficiency; facilitators often complain about this arrangement of sending so many novices to attend and wonder about the benefit of this as group work or individuated attention is impossible and facilitators are left with only lecture method which uses Talk- and-Talk, and thus becoming facilitator-centred and not attendee-centred
Often when some of the novices are asked about the benefit of the course they have attended at the national level their immediate answers are related to making new friends, change of environment and good feeding, but not about the content of the course, indicating little assimilation. One wonders how long this can go on.
- Often an absence of leadership for FoMRU and USFC-Namugongo, e.g. supervision in form of monitoring, feedback from the top leadership of ARU leaves a lot to be desired.
- Oftentimes there are contributors of many ideas and plans about updating formation programmes but on the ground, the reality is different.
- Though some members of Institutes were identified for formation, retreat giving, and spiritual accompaniment, the Institutional Leadership finds it difficult to release them for the work of formation and others who had shown willingness to attend course, later decline when approached by their superiors.
- Some consecrated persons are still unwilling to take up the work of Formation because of not being sufficiently financially supported, while others do not see its benefit to them in terms of personal financial gain, and also for the prolongation of the term of appointment for too long.
- More interest in professionalism and careerism in many consecrated persons has led to a disregard of jobs that do not fetch an income to individuals or to a community. Since formation work does not come across to some members as a source of income those appointed to it see it as non-beneficial, dismissing that quality formation is a ministry of passing on the source of the life of their Institute, e. g charism, spirituality and Christ’s mission beyond just doing formation work.
- Seemingly, many Institutes of Consecrated Life in Uganda show a great interest in admitting many numbers of the youth who are still linked to their school environment which they are likely to enact in formation houses; proper scrutiny of vocations may be focused on numbers rather than adequate scrutiny of candidates for quality. Come-and-See programme lacks content.
Moreover, more interest is placed in those who are academically viable, with least attention to their faith level and family background. Most aspirants/candidates come to the Come and See programme to visit and see, but their homes are hardly visited as a follow-up to establish the quality of their family background.
It is also a common observation that candidates are admitted unsorted in such a way that they form a good mixture but with impeding problems because when they are mixed without a consideration of the level of education and maturity they are likely to cause more work to the formators and themselves to gain less.
- Assessment of Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre
According to the Strategic plan, the assessment of Uganda Spiritual Formation Centre was meant to get to know the impact of the Courses at the Centre on the participants, the assessment of the Centre, the staff and needs of the Centre in terms of expansion and the financial viability. This activity though was planned for, we realized it could not be done without the mandate from ARU.
We are grateful to God for inspiring the leaders of ARU to create a desk for Transformative Formation of the members and for all the assistance given to FoMRU. We are also thanking God for enabling us to do what we have so far accomplished and the new learnings acquired since the establishment of the office. We are thankful to Porticus for the financial support given the office and their advice and guidance in administering the activities of the office.
We also would like to appreciate the different consecrated persons who assisted us in carrying out the different activities of FoMRU. We are grateful for the team spirit and the different Institutes that were open to receive FoMRU team for the programs carried out in various Institutes. We pray that the Lord will continue to guide us to carry out this ministry for our own Formation and the Formation of the Consecrated Persons in Uganda.
Compiled by: Sr. Rita Namayanja (IHMR) Coordinator FoMRU
Sr. Liberata Mandhawun (MSMMC), Assistant Coordinator
Sr. Cecilia Nibyobyonka, (OLGC), Assistant Coordinator