Whenever the young Ignatians hear of the university formations, joyful anticipation clouds the air. The formations provide an opportunity to step away from the busy regular lives in which the students are engulfed and get more in touch with their humanity. Humans long for serenity and have come up with various ways of reminding themselves of the need to experience this and even going as far as creating artificial environments like having some beautiful wall paintings or some significant pieces of art work on their work desks just to convince their minds that they are in a serene environment. The Universities formations, however, have always managed to deliver weekends of real and holistic serenity, not only to the students, but also to the facilitators. Formations are moments for divine healing!
The youth experience a vast array of challenges in their social and spiritual lives in their various contributing elements including but not limited to self-esteem, self-expression, and social interactions, finding their purpose, understanding the spiritual journey, the human nature and God and ultimately finding a balanced life amidst all these. The formations have done quite significant job in journeying with the youth in these aspects of life. They have been the fertile grounds where the Ignatian seeds have been planted in Kenya outside the ordained Ignatian congregations.
For more than a decade since the formations were started in Kenya, the young people have been significantly shaped and many have attested to the fact that it is more than just a get-together, rather, a life-changing encounter! The most recent Joint Universities Formation was held at Pwani University in Kilifi County from 19th-21st February 2023. However, compared to the other JUFs, this formation saw significantly less attendance of 54 students from nine universities within Kenya namely; Pwani University, Egerton University, Kenyatta University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Moi University, Rongo University, University of Eldoret, University of Kabianga and University of Nairobi.
The event was also graced by the presence of George Aggrey Chiwuya who represented CLC in Tanzania. Other JUFs have always recorded attendance of over 100 students with representation of over 11 universities. The low attendance was attributed to among other factors, financial constraints and poor transition process as a result of disruption of the regular university calendar owing to COVID-19. This was not a limitation to the Ignatian spirit of finding the pair of emotions that complete human life, the consolations and desolations and finding God in all these.
Feedback is very essential in any growth process, the JUF included. Whenever the evaluation of the weekend formations are done, it is so much humbling to receive feedbacks that truly confirm that Ignatian ethos and ideals have been imparted in the young adults. The feedbacks bring to attention that we have a rich youth base with conscience worth naturing, souls ready to be directed in the ways of the Lord and whole beings craving to meet God in all creation and ready to do infinitely more for the Greater Glory of the Creator!