It has been not usual. For several months, there are no seminaries in Palembang, St Paul Minor Seminary. It is not because there are no candidates to seminary, but it is, because of saving the “GIFT” from God (I mean the seminaries) against corona virus.
For six months, our seminary has been closed because the pandemic of covid-19. On March, all the seminaries were sent back to their families so that they remain safer at home than they live together at Seminary. According to the news on December, covid-19 started to spread to many countries and in Indonesia too. Indonesian Government especially made many protocols to prevent the spreading of the virus, insisting to use the masks, wash the hands and keeping physical and social distance (as others country did according to WHO’s appeal for protecting ourselves from corona virus). Because of these protocols, we, formators of the seminary, determined to send back the seminaries to their family to decrease the social grouping at seminary. Around hundred students at seminary were more than challenging during the covid- 19 to avoid the social grouping. It was also suggestion from the Bishop of Arch diocese of Palembang. The Church wanted to support the efforts of the government to stop the spreading of the corona virus. As the impact of this situation, all the seminarians continued their process of formation by internet at their homes.
Stay and live at home was not the better option for the formation process of seminaries. Finally, as the result of discussion around formators of seminary and more over the advice from the bishop, we decided to make new system of formation, namely Diaspora Seminary. Diaspora Seminary style is adapted from early Christian life in the Holy Bible. The seminarians spread or divide to small groups (two by two, three by three, or more, but not more than six) and live in some of parishes or community of SCJ around Palembang diocese, Tanjungkarang diocese, or Padang diocese. They continue their process of formation by living together with priest or religious. Finally, from July until now, all the seminarians have been living in some parishes or religious communities and doing their study by internet (Education by far distance).Through this, seminarians experience the community life and guidance from the dehonians.
We the formatters still stay at seminary. There are seven dehonians who participate in the formation at St Paul Minor Seminary. In this situation, we have to get out from our comfort zone by more active in social media or our gadget for monitoring, caring, and listening to the seminarians who are in different places. For several times, we have to go out from seminary house and encounter our seminarians in Parishes and religious communities (but still keeping the protocols).
The dynamic of formation now is doing by virtual meeting either zoom or Google class. All the SCJ, as formators, are struggling to give their cordiality for the seminarians. We still do our responsibility as formator but not by directly guidance but by network connection. Sometimes, we have to make matter for conference or preparing the subject for course in virtual class. It is not really difficult but also it is not an easy job because some of us are people who are immigrating to the new generation (I mean baby boomers generation move from X or Y generation for adjusting the many things in X or Y generation). But here we are. We are SCJ, dehonians, who are ready to format ourselves according to the situation and culture. It’s also our proof for living the spirit of Ecce Venio with open our heart and mind to the new future and new culture. As a hymn to the Holy Spirit ‘guide us although we have to sacrifice our self for the services’.