Capuchins’ Holistic Initiative During COVID-19 Gains Momentum

The Franciscan Capuchin friars of Amala Annai Province in India have initiated a series of online formation programmes for the English speaking religious men and women, Capuchin Father Nithiya Sagayam, director of Thalir (vitality) Holistic Welfare Centre in Villupuram, told Matters India.

According to him, 35 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas participate in the International Online programmes organised by the center, situated in Tamil Nadu, India.

The programme is meant for superior generals, provincials and other superiors various religious congregations and heads of institutions for these programmes.

Around 475 major superiors (generals and provincials) and heads of institutions from all continents participated in the programme on effective leadership held from September 7-11, Father Nithiya said.

All the sessions were held from 6 pm to 7.30 pm Indian time. After one hour of inputs, there was time for interactions and clarifications.

Indian Jesuit Father Francis Xavier, a motivational trainer and Capuchin Father Wilson, a psychologist, gave the sessions on leadership, stress and conflict management, time management and various types of leadership.

In the following week, the focus was on the capacity building of the formators in various stages of future candidates to become nuns or priests such as aspirancy, postulancy, Novitiate and Juniorate.

The sessions were given by Jesuit Father Jerry Rosario, a theologian and spiritual counselor and Dr. Wilson who focused on understanding the youth of today, being led by God-experience, understanding the latent and manifest motives and accompanying candidates.

In the third week, the young candidates at various stages joined together. The focus of this week was on the deeper understanding of Vows and their relevance in religious life today.

The formators also joined along with the formees in this programme given carrying forward the proposals and action plans that emerged during the course, Father Nithiya said.

The zoom participation was full with 500 participants. Most of the participation was in groups of formees of various stages in various countries.

This programme touched on the formation through spiritual, emotional and socio-pastoral areas of young men and women preparing for religious life.

Sister Mpolai Lekeba from Lesotho, Southern Africa said that this was the first time she attended an international programme which enabled her to understand the cultural differences.

Father Van from Jamaica was impressed by the rich inputs and said he would focus on the holistic wellbeing of the formees.

Sister Magdelene Bui from Vietnam was excited by the interventions and clarifications held daily after the inputs.

Sister Lydia, a Novice mistress in Kenya expressed her wish to have these online training periodically as it would be impossible to get resource persons for formation.

Father Prem from Nagpur, who participated along with his seminarians expressed his gratitude for this international opening to exchange views and news with other formators and formees. It was a global celebration.

This centre is situated in a remote village is surrounded by fields and quietness for personal and group retreats and renewals.

The Capuchin friars are committed to the welfare of the poorest rural people in this socio-economically backward district area.

They are involved in COVID-19 relief activities in 30 villages, especially with the primitive tribes, physically challenged, widows, transgenders, washermen and cobblers who are in the peripheries.

Besides the distribution of food materials and medicines, they also give awareness to rural children and parents.

Besides retreats, this centre gives personal and family counselling they also reach out to several places for socio-pastoral help outs.

In the coming weeks, there are a series of online programmes meant for social work directors, secretaries, teachers, and parents. The Thalir Centre has developed a rich team of Resource persons to deal with these programmes.

Father Nithiya, who has been involved in organising hundreds of seminars and trainings at the national and international level is the Director of this centre.

Recently, he has developed these online international programmes through VISIT(Virtual Institute of Skills, Integrity and Transformation).

The online ministries include weekly online video homilies based on Sunday scriptures and it comes in five languages such as English, French, Hindi, Tamil and Sinhala.

The monthly recollections are also sent through their Youtube Channel, ‘Total Excellence’.

This centre is named after Blessed Solanus Casey, an American Capuchin priest who was known for his commitment to the poorest of the poor through his compassionate ministries such as soup kitchen, counselling and guiding their future.

The Capuchins in this centre continue to update his vision and mission through their commitment to the poorest and the neglected through socio-economic development and psycho-spiritual ministries.