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Friday, February 23 2018  - 3 User Online  

21.01.2016 15:58:31 3259x read.
Rising to the Challenge: Giving one's ideas a chance.

PROFILE:   (Bro. Francis Sarfo FIC).
Rising to the Challenge: Giving one's ideas a chance.
Family Life: I come  from Jacobu, near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.  I was born to Mr. Kwadwo Fordjour and Mad. Alice Afua Abuaa, both of blessed memory.  My younger sister and I are the only surviving children of my late mother. I lived shortly with my parents before they divorced, then I went to live with my grandparents. The house was affectionately known as “Catholic Home” by our neighbours because my grandparents were very religious and would not tolerate any absenteeism at Sunday Mass. My grandfather remarked that the gravest sin a Catholic can commit is to refuse to go for Mass on Sunday, unless for reason of sickness or where a church does not exist. For him, it was equally an act of idolatry. 
While staying with my grandparents my greatest desire was to go to school but they kept postponing the idea. So I challenged myself by asking my cousins to teach me the basics of reading and writing.  When I informed my grandfather that I wanted to go to school, he did not utter a word. I was scared, thinking that he would send me back to my mother because of that! Little did I know that he was positively thinking about it. At the start of the school year, he approached my father, warning him sternly that if he did not send me to school that year he would summon him before the Social Welfare Department. There my long-awaited dream began to realize!  
It is true that the mother of all great achievements is an idea: in some cases a very simple idea. The young priest, Louis Rutten would not have been able to start the Congregation if he was not thinking about those children found on the streets of Maastricht. He thought of them and gave his idea a golden chance by laying the foundation stone of the Congregation. In the same vein, the simplest idea I conceived earlier about attending school was beginning to realize. 
Education and Involvement in the Local Church  
In 1991/2 academic year, at the age of 11, I started class one in the Roman Catholic primary school in Jacobu. From class one I was jumped to class three,  and then to class five, so in the end, I spent four years instead of six. When I was enrolled in school my aim was to read medicine, engineering or to become a priest.  That became my silent prayer intention throughout my educational period.  Brotherhood never crossed my mind because I knew only Fathers and Sisters. Boys went to the  seminary to become priests and girls to the convents to become sisters.    
After completing junior high school, my intention was to go to the seminary but I missed their entrance examination. However, my parish priest told me that I could still go to the Seminary after completing senior high school. It is said that the best successes come after disappointments. Little did I know that missing the entrance examination into the Seminary would eventually sling me into Religious Life. 
When I went to the senior high school, I knew I was on the way to achieving at least one of my set goals: engineering or priesthood. In 2000, I attended a diocesan youth camp where representatives of various congregations in the diocese introduced their congregations. The sisters and brothers spoke about their way of life as religious, including how they live in communities like the early Christians: “of one heart and soul”, and that no one claimed what he had was his own,… (Acts. 4:32-35). They also explained how they lived in community and put their resources together just like the early Christians,  and offer help to the needy and the poor in the society through education. I could feel an inner burning as if there was fire set beneath my heart. I went to one of the Marists Brothers for the brochure, but I initially did not want to be a teacher. For community life I cherished it but to become a teacher, I had not set any goal for it. I left it to God to decide!  
Vocation Story
When I completed my studies in the polytechnic, the desire of becoming either brother or priest completely vanished until I bought a monthly reflection booklet entitled “One Bread One Body”. There I read about the FIC Brothers. What generated my interest to become an FIC Brother was that they accept people from various professions: teachers, nurses and social workers. They live in community and have special concern for the poor and destitute, the underprivileged and disabled, and so on. I thought "This might be where I find myself!"  I quickly wrote to the Aspirancy Coordinator.  After some months, I got the reply and later a visit by Bro. Augustine Kubdaar and also Bro. Lambert Batogbee. 
All this time, I did not disclose my intention to my family yet. I had a bit of fear that I might encounter resistance from my mother since I was the only surviving son of hers and also because she was not a Catholic. But surprisingly, she willingly gave me her blessing.   
So in 2004 I was invited to attend the contact days in Wa. Subsequent years, I showed up and finally at my third appearance, I gave a firm assurance by applying to start initial formation and with my other four colleagues we were permitted to start formation in 2006. I thank my Formators, namely Bros. Alpitio, Raphael and Isidore for the love and patience they exhibited in journeying with me during the initial formation.  
After my first profession in 2006, I was asked to join the Kaleo Community to teach in St. Basilide’s Technical Institute. The underlying factor of my teaching apostolate was to make sure that the FIC charism of Formation and Education become alive in these young boys and girls. To achieve this, my questions have always been: how would I teach as a Brother to make a difference from my colleague teachers who are not religious? How different would Christ have taught them? And really, these questions urged me on to make a stride. In my everyday teaching apostolate, I made sure that our charism was at the centre of my delivery. 
In 2012, I was asked by the Provincial Superior to take over the FIC Bernardus Company Ltd. The challenge was that I was doing a Master’s program in Project Management and at the same time, teaching. In order not to discontinue the work of the company, I accepted that demanding task. My first challenge was how to make the FIC charism felt in this new arena of work. I realized  that construction works are generally marked by corruption and unjust practices. How was I to build trust in our clients?  How would Christ build trust among them? For two years, that was my battle with regard to client relations, workers and other stakeholders’ relations. 
Presently, I know I did not do well but I did my best!   I realize that I bit more than I could chew! It was not easy for me to strike a balance between prayer, apostolate and community life. I got the taste of living the "ideal" in formation and later the "reality" of our apostolic engagement. I consider it a great learning experience!
I might have failed to meet certain expectations from certain angles.  However, as it is observed somewhere “a life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. The experience I have from learning is so great, and for all that has happened, I am very grateful to God for his presence in my life.  I see my life as a great gift from God. 
Just like our Founder Louis Rutten, who gave a golden chance to his ideas, I am always on the spur to give my ideas a chance to enable me be as useful as possible; even if they do not work, there is always the chance that I will learn from them and conceive a better idea for the future as a result.

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