My Journey Through Glenmary Formation

Posted: 10/14/2011

Brother-in-Training Levis KuwaBy Brother Levis Kuwa

Formation is normally viewed as a process that one has to go through in order to start one's life as a missioner. Since my experience has been a little different, I like to think that formation is a stage of a missioner's life. I have felt that the moment I responded to the call, after a period of prayerful discernment, was the moment I actively became a missioner. I then began, not a search to discover my vocation, but a process of seeking the deeper meaning of my vocation.

I spent a year of discernment in Kenya volunteering in Kenyatta National Hospital. In this position I gained a lot of day-to-day skills for, and insights into, ministering in health care. During that time I was also in regular communication with the Glenmary Vocation Office. The vocation team helped me to discern God's call and understand what to expect in life as a missioner.

When I traveled to Hartford, Ky., in the United States, I began the one-year candidacy program. Moving to the United States was like moving into a new ministry, or a new mission. Often in these cases, even though well trained, one is new and has to be an observer and then discern what ministries would be most fitting and helpful to the people of God.

The following year was my novitiate year. During this time I developed and strengthened the tools I was going to need as a missioner. This period was enriching because it allowed me a lot of time for prayer and meditation, while at the same time I was learning about the roots and future of our mission society. It also was a special time that helped me overcome struggles, gain some clarity and discern what God might be laying in my path.

From there I went into the period of field experience. Fresh from training and armed with the theory, I became a participant observer. This time may be likened to the period of residency for doctors. Applying the theory in practice helped me to confirm that this is the life God was calling me to lead. I was living the life of a missioner, while being cushioned from the full responsibility and still going through mentoring.

In the mission as a student, I could ask for clarifications and explanations of real issues on the ground. After testing life as a missioner, I had to decide if I was willing to commit for another year and become a temporarily professed member of the Glenmary community. I prayerfully discerned that this was the path in life that God had designed for me.

I applied to take First Oath, which includes promises of chastity, poverty, obedience and a life of prayer. When I professed the Oath, I was officially welcomed into the society and was assigned to the missions of St. Andrew and St. Jude in western Arkansas. My role in the mission was to take some of the responsibilities that the pastor had and explore the possibilities of new ones. After my yearlong assignment in the Arkansas missions, I renewed my Oath for the first time, which was a confirmation of my coming of age as a missioner.

I then enrolled in school to prepare me to work in the medical field as a missionary nurse. I am currently living at the Glenmary residence in Cincinnati and studying nursing at the University of Cincinnati, with a focus on needs in the rural, mostly Southern, United States. This period of formation could be referred to as learning a specialized ministry. While we are all missioners, we are also called to different kinds of ministries according to our gifts and talents. There is a great need for affordable medical care in many of our mission areas, and that is a gift I can bring.

Yet I have to remain open to all ministries and ready to respond to the need that may arise in trying to do God's noble work. By the words of my Oath, I am committed to God, to the people in the missions, to all my Glenmary brothers and coworkers, and to all our partners in mission for this great cause.

"'Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
—(Mt 25:40)