ECC and MIFF conducted Ongoing formation for young Myanmar clergy.
(CBCM: 21/11/2013- by Fr. Simon Tin Maung.)
Episcopal Commission for Clergy known as ECC Myanmar established since 2001, as one of Episcopal Commissions of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), joining the staff of Myanmar Institute of Formation for Formators (MIFF - founded in 2002) has successfully conducted a week seminar/retreat from October 14 to 18, 2013 at Chaung Thar Beach, Resort Yangon, in Southern Myanmar.
The Commission headed by Auxiliary Bishop of Loikaw Diocese, Msgr. Stephen Tjephe (58 age), and 4 staff of ECC made this event possible with the help of 5 Staff of MIFF and 3 directive spiritual guides ( 1 local and 2 expatriates: one Jesuit priest and one Columban religious sister) focusing on psycho spiritual renewal for the enthusiastic young clergy ordained in 2003 and 2004.
“Altogether 29 priests, representing 11 dioceses of Catholic Church in Myanmar out of 3 archdioceses and 13 dioceses in Myanmar” said Msgr. Tjephe. “It is truly a moment of meeting and sharing of 10 and 11 years of rich pastoral and priestly experiences of these young men”.
Except one priest from Taung Ngu diocese, who was trained in Italy, all have gone through Philosophy studies in Pyin Oo Lwin (founded in 1985) and theological and priestly formation in St. Joseph’s Catholic Major Seminary in Yangon (founded in 1957) in the class of 2003 and 2004. “I am happy to have this occasion to meet again my old comrades” said Fr. Anthony Ah Gaw, a priest participant of the diocese of Keng Tung, in Shan State. “I recall our youthful and joyful moments that we had passed in the seminary together”, he remarked.
The 5 day program is scheduled in such a way that the focus of renewal is to be made in holistic way. Time for liturgy in common. 3 inputs on psycho spirituality in the morning and one period for practicum (discussion and sharing) and games for physical exercises at the beach. And an hour of adoration after dinner is the moment to put oneself in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Divided in 3 groups and each group, composed of 9 to 10, and is placed under the attentive guidance of 3 skillful directive spiritual guides available for the whole week.
Since its establishment in 2001 headed by Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray (Bishop of Mawlemyine diocese) and currently by Bishop Stephen Tjephe, ECC has annually organized and conducted seminar/ retreat for young Myanmar clergy in the program of ongoing formation of the priests. This year very significantly ECC and MIFF, jointly collaborated in contributing for this ongoing formation.
Today about 800 Catholic priests (all local and majority diocesan) are now taking up different offices and ministries across the country spreading 16 arch/dioceses in Myanmar. Most of Myanmar priests are young and active working as parish priests and associate parish priests in the rural areas, leading Catholic communities in villages. To be updated and upgraded in their human and spiritual formation is a big challenge today. ECC is filling up this gap by conducting seminar and retreat for them annually. “ Once a year is too little, why not twice or three times a year, if we can meet?. But we need more accompaniment and support to make the meetings possible” remarked Bishop Tjephe.