What is your general impression of the St. John Paul II Sabbatical Program?
I came to know about this Centre in January and I facilitated the sending of a Sister from our local congregation here because I felt she needed to rest and reflect about her life and ministry. So today being here I have been impressed by the Program being delivered at this humble place. From the testimonies I have heard, somebody who is looking for real renewal can achieve it through this Program.
How significant is a Sabbatical Program in the life of Priests and Religious?
I believe it (Sabbatical Program) is important for Priests and religious who are suffering from burnout in the ministry. For example in Malawi where we do not have such a Program we really see our Priests bearing the burnout and this Centre would be helpful as they can get the rest they need and also a real reflection on their vocation as Priests and Religious. They will also get a kind of spiritual energy to continue with their work. So I find this Program to be very significant for us Priests and Religious.
One of the perceptions about Sabbatical Programs is that they are meant for Priests and Religious with disciplinary issues. What is your take on this?
The Sabbatical Centre is not for people with disciplinary issues. Perhaps that has been in our history but that is not the purpose of a Sabbatical Program; to target people with problems. It is for everybody who feels the need to reenergize. That stigma can go away if we leaders are sending people without disciplinary issues.
We religious-Bishops, Superiors, and Mother Generals we do not have to wait until someone reaches a level where we are done with him/her, but people who have spent their time in the ministry can come here and reenergize so that they can continue the good things they are doing.
As a Bishop, you understand the challenges that Priests and Religious face in maintaining their spiritual energy and zeal over the course of their ministry. In the context of St. John Paul II Sabbatical Program and its emphasis on renewal, what message would you like to convey to Priests and Religious who have served for a long time?
As we start our work as young people, we have the energy, we have the zeal, but it is not our fault that at some point the zeal requires renewal and this is where the sabbatical is coming in. We have to maintain the spiritual energy and zeal to minister to our people and the Sabbatical Program is there to meet that need.