Another chance to renew my “yes” of fidelity to the Lord on 11 June 2020, the day the Church commemorates the apostle Saint Barnabas. I am Benoît Kufika, a Salesian from D.R. Congo in Ireland. After a time of discernment with my confreres and my spiritual director, I renewed my vows for another year of religious life. It comes from the bottom of my heart and gives me more time to discern about my commitments as a religious and a Salesian.
Despite social distancing imposed by the covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony took place in a solemn atmosphere. The Mass started at around 9:30am in St Catherine’s chapel, Maynooth. While Father Mirek presided at the Mass, the renewal was received by Father Cyril Odia in the name of Father Fernández Artime, the Rector Major of the Society of St Francis de Sales. As I was pronouncing the last words of the formula of profession I was deeply overcome with emotion. I just failed to contain my tears. How did that happen?
The preparation for this act of faith was indeed intense. My thanks to Father Richard Ebejer for accompanying us (Vinh and I) during the last three days of the renewal. It was a golden opportunity to reflect upon our spirituality and mission.
During my visit to the Blessed Sacrament on the vigil of this day, I asked the Lord to show me the sign of his presence. Furthermore, I confessed my sins some minutes before the ceremony began. I was then ready to present myself before the Lord.
As I was pronouncing the fore-last words, “Father, may your grace…”, a deep emotion suddenly moved me from the very depth of my heart and lasted for about sixty seconds. Although I was alone on the spot to renew my vows, I felt I was not lonely. The Lord manifested his presence in the confreres who came to encourage me carry on with the renewal.
How did this affect me? It was a very significant fact in my eyes. I realised the very sense of the community life. The Lord has given us brothers that always help us persevere on the journey, even when we feel we have no strength to move forward. Hence, the words that I was pronouncing were not simply words, but an “act” of faith and love to be lived with God’s grace and the assistance of my brother Salesians.
I express my gratitude to all who have helped and continually help me grow in all dimensions of life, especially the human, spiritual, vocational, and missionary. I thank Father Cyril and all the confreres in St Catherine’s for making this day so meaningful. I am grateful to my family, especially my parents, for having shown me the way to loving and following Christ.
The mission entrusted to me involves many joys, but also various sorrows. Yet, by nature, I have always wanted to be optimistic and to focus more on the brighter side of life. This helps me welcome every person and circumstance as a gift from God and part of his plan for the salvation of the world.
Finally, through this renewal of my vows, I would like to pray with you for vocations in the Church, in the Salesian congregation and in the Irish province. As can be seen, the future of this province lies particularly with God’s providence and the generosity of young Salesians. A special thanks to my confreres here in Ireland and in the Congo for their acts and words of reassurance towards me. I carry you all in my heart and prayers.