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President of the association




The establishment of BECAN (Benedictine and Cistercian Association of Nigeria) highlights a number of factors that were visibly present in the milieu of its establishment and which by and large are still with us today. The monastic life is both new and foreign in this country. Also, as is the case in some other parts of the African continent, struggles and difficulties, mostly social-economic in nature, abound. Hence, the pioneers of Nigerian monasticism saw the need for mutual and fraternal support, the need for stronger ties among the different monastic communities.

Though not clearly stated at its inception, BECAN saw one of its goals as that of building stronger bonds among the Nigerian monasteries in order to tackle the numerous challenges that are peculiarly Nigerian with greater confidence. These early BECAN fathers and mothers recognised the fact that the traditional culture of the people has its own richness which is imbued with values some of which have correlation with Christian values and monastic values. The question then was: how could the newly arrived Western monasticism dialogue with the African culture, the Nigerian culture?

Since 2009, after the meeting held at Mount Calvary Cistercian Abbey, Awhum, the Superiors have created a common purse. There is an annual levy on each community, as a way of building this fund. The idea is that part of this money is to fund the affairs of BECAN and those of the BECAN Formators. The Association has also decided to establish a common training ground for its monks and nuns. This project is currently in process. The plan for this Institute has been designed to be constructed in one of the BECAN monasteries.

The importance of formation in the life of any community made the Association create another forum specifically for the Formators of BECAN communities. This is a larger forum since its participants are persons having any role in initial formation. This forum, simply known as ‘BECAN Formators’, has its activities regulated (though indirectly) by the Superiors. Their annual week-long meeting comes up every second week in November. This, as in the case of the Superiors’ forum, is both an opportunity for mutual support and exchange of ideas on formation, as well as an avenue for in-group training, renewal and updating for the Formators themselves. Once in five years does the Formators’ forum organise for itself a month-long Monastic Institute which is always tagged ‘Formation of Formators’ Workshop’.

Peter Eghwrudjakpor, OSB

Extract from an article published in the book of the fiftieth anniversary of AIM "So far yet so near"

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