JEEVAN JYOTI is the missionary orientation centre of Missionary Society of St Thomas the Apostle (MST). Missionary Orientation Course (MOC) is a formation phase between Minor Seminary and Philosophy (D34). MOC is a period of intense missionary, spiritual and liturgical formation, whereby a candidate is captivated by the same spirit of Jesus towards the needy and the poor. The candidates are placed in the real mission field to get the first hand experience of mission work. Deepening their faith being the main thrust of this one year programme, the brothers are involved directly in the mission activity by going to villages and getting contact with them. At the end of the course brothers take their temporary Promise of Incorporation into the Society.
Thus Jeevan Jyoti remains always jeevan (life) and jyoti (light) not only to the future missionaries of MST, but also to the people around here.
One-year of Missionary Orientation Course follows the Minor Seminary studies (D 34). "Before the incorporation into the Society, the students are given a period of missionary orientation in a house of the Society set apart for the purpose in the mission field. This is a period of intensive missionary, spiritual and liturgical formation and experience in community living. The students are taught besides missiology, history and nature of the Society and its Constitutions and Directives, for deepening their missionary commitment. They acquire both theoretical and practical knowledge of contacting and mixing with other people, cultures and religious groups, under the guidance of experienced formators" (C 34).
The students at this stage are given deeper insights into missionary spirituality. It is a time for the students to pray together and grow in the personal attachment to Jesus, the great missionary sent by the Father. They are helped to appropriate missionary values through exposure programmes in the missions and they shall manifest clear signs of having acquired proper missionary aptitude and attitudes. They shall develop genuine interest in village visits and people-oriented programmes, simple life-style and an earnest desire to identify with the people around. They shall study the Church documents on mission and get acquainted with the past and the present missionary enterprises of the Church.
As stipulated in the Constitution 34 of the MST, the MOC is meant to give the candidates a solid foundation in missionary spirituality. Hence the importance is given to prayer life and missionary contact and activity. Besides, the candidates spend a lot of time in prayer and are introduced into different types of prayer: meditation, personal prayer, personal reflection, group reflection, adoration etc. Friday fasting and prayer day enhance their spiritual nourishment.
Missionary vocation in the modern times is all the more challenging and hence the future missionaries should be equipped withmissionary spirit. In view of their missionary activities in the future, the JeevanJyotiansmake village visits to surrounding villages on Tuesdays and Fridays; Live-in Village experience in the field with missionaries for two weeks, Christmas programmes, staged in all the mission centres and other villages,work camp,mission tours etc. They participate occasionally in the local festivals and social functions.
384 students underwent MOC so far and the 25th Batch with 15 Brothers with the motto “With Jesus we will make it” started the MOC officially on 04th July 2012. Hence the total number goes to 399. Out of them 124 are already priests working in and outside of India and 110 Brothers are undergoing their priestly formation at Ruhalaya Major Seminary, Ujjain and in other Major Seminaries in Kerala.
Let me brief you on the history of JeevanJyoti: it was during the time of VeryRev. Fr Joseph Maliparambil, the then Director General of MST, that the Society purchased a piece of land at Kamedin Ujjain, under the guidance of Bp Mar John Perumattam to start Missionary Orientation Course (MOC). Bp Mar Sebastian Vayalil laid the foundation stone on Oct. 22, 1976 and Rev. Fr Abraham Ayckara was the first Director of MOC, which started functioning on July 03, 1977 with 19 seminarians. Rev. Frs Thomas Ayathamattam, George Kuzhikandathil, Zacharias Thudippara and Antony Pulickamandapathil served as its directors there, and Fr Antony continued to be the Director of JeevanJyoti at Ganjam.
To house the Ruhalaya Philosophate at Kamed, the MOC was shifted to Rajgarh in 1987. In 1988 Jeevan Jyoti was shifted to Ganjam, Srirangapatna, in Karnataka. The foundation stone of the present JeevanJyoti was blessed and laid by Rt. Rev. Dr Francis Michealappa, Bp of Mysore on Sept. 08, 1987, and the MOC began here with 17 Seminarians under the guidance of Rev. Fr Antony Pulickamandapathil, and was informally inaugurated by Very Rev. Fr Sebastian Thuruthel, the then Director General, on 17th July 1988. The solemn inauguration was held on July 04,1989 by Mar Jacob Thoomkuzhy and the gathering was presided over by Mar Sebastian Mankuzhikary.