By Novice Democracy Mudenda
Editor’s Note: Soon-to-be-Schlastic, Democracy Mudenda, who comes to us from Zambia is heard in the video interview, “Oblate Novices Reflect on the Past Year in Their Formation.” However, Democracy had more to say and preferred to say it in writing. So here is a bit more from this thoughtful young man in Oblate formation.
As I conclude my novitiate year, I would like to share my experience as a novice at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate house of formation in Godfrey, Illinois.
I learned that, as human beings, we live and grow by relating to ourselves and to things and people outside ourselves. The whole meaning of life is thus a confrontation with our own selves, others, and eventually God. My life experience of the novitiate is a way of naming, knowing, and living in the manner of radical self-surrender before God. Perhaps I need to acknowledge and to be aware that God is always in charge. At the same time, I feel proud and humbled that the Oblate charism resonated well with the inner convictions of my vocation. My experience was of a real heart conversion to God which was a process of reflecting, educating, transforming and nourishing at the same time.
Through my experience I became very aware of how Oblates are close with everyday people while valuing strong intellectual formation. My experience included progress, love, struggles, homesickness and disappointment. As a matter of fact, novitiate life was filled with a lot of activity which led to my prayer life becoming more rooted, grounded, enjoyable and eventually a stable experience. The Holy Spirit of God directed me to affirm the presence of God as a vivid expression of my daily life discernment.
I have been so grateful to learn that prayer life is not only confined to the novitiate house of formation; rather, I was touched and moved by praying with different people; especially those who were home bound, in nursing homes, in jail, and in the Community Hope Center. To tell the truth, my passion was learning and being with others as I served and cared for them.
My novitiate experience was based on the following: prayer life, community life, desert days, reflections and ministry which changed me so that I came to experience the unconditional love of God every day. In addition, my relationship with my fellow novices was awesome, fabulous, and fruitful as we got to know each other so well. My formators were excellent people to live with, and they helped me to grow, grasp, contemplate, analyze, articulate, ponder, and be able to look ahead always. I learned from them that to be an authentic Oblate I need to be open and able to seek advice in order to grow in maturity. My novitiate life experience has left me with food for thought as I continue integrating the importance of religious life, especially the Oblate way of life.
Furthermore, I really enjoyed and appreciated the lessons we had in our classes on the Constitutions and Rules, Oblate lesson in general, the tours and lessons with La Vista Ecological Learning Center, the Inter-community Novitiate, as well as our connection with Kings House Retreat and Renewal Center.
Life without family and friends had its sorrows, but because I lived in Novitiate house of formation, I was excited to meet new people including the opportunity to visit Oblate friends and family within Godfrey and Alton. These relationships provided me with diverse perspectives and kept me from a lot of homesickness. Those especially helpful were Father Steven Janoski, pastor at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Godfrey Illinois, and along with him Deacons Bill Kessler, Jay Wackerly, and Tom Wilkinson; Sisters Maxine Pohlman SSND, Rose Miriam Schulte, OP, and Anna Phiri, OSF; Vernon and Kathy DePauw, Bill and Betty Horn, Robert pozzi , Marcia Wheeler, and Stevie Salas.
In summary, my life experience was full of tranquility and enabled me to grow more in the Spirit of God while I was helped in pondering the omnipresence of God in my life. Through love, prayer and discernment I feel more deeply that I want to give my life to God as a religious.