“Heaven’s Hell: Consecrated Life, Response to Divine Calling or Personal Project?”

Dominic Wabwireh avatar

Le paradis de l'enfer par le Père Elysée Koffi, sma
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In the whirlwind of assignments and appointments that regularly stir the calm waters of dioceses, religious congregations, and institutes of apostolic life within the Catholic Church, emerges a nagging question: is consecrated life truly a response to God’s call or the realization of a personal design?

This question, as old as the religious institution itself, resonates particularly poignantly in the recent work of Fr. Elysée KOFFI Banouakon, a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA). In his essay entitled “Heaven’s Hell: Consecrated Life, a Response to a Call or the Fulfillment of a Personal Project?” Fr. KOFFI raises crucial questions about the nature and motivation of religious commitment.

Born on September 1, 1985, in Presso S/P Koun-FAO in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Fr. KOFFI’s journey is both remarkable and enlightening. Ordained a priest on July 1, 2017, he has traversed rich intellectual and spiritual paths, culminating in a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from the SS/PP Major Seminary in Ibandan, Nigeria, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UCAO, not to mention his certifications in Diplomacy and International Relations, as well as Project Management. His training, marked by the diversity of fields he has explored, reflects an unceasing quest for truth and meaning.

But beyond titles and diplomas, it is the depth of his questioning that is striking. Consecrated life, according to him, is a divine calling, a sacred commitment that transcends material contingencies and earthly aspirations. However, in a world where spiritual values are often relegated to the background, it is tempting to see religious life as a path to personal fulfillment or even social ascent.

Fr. KOFFI highlights the constant challenge faced by God’s servants: to remain faithful to their primary vocation, despite the pressures of the outside world and the temptations of the ego. The “sequela Christi,” the following of Christ, cannot be reduced to a mere posture or honorary title. It demands total self-abandonment, unwavering availability in the service of the Gospel.

In a context where the stewardship of the Lord’s harvesters can sometimes blur with personal ambitions, Fr. KOFFI forcefully recalls the moral imperative underlying all religious vocation: the salvation of man, in his totality, is the ultimate goal of all ecclesiastical engagement. In this sense, consecrated life is much more than an individual project; it is a response to the call of the Other, a self-gift in the service of the entire human community.

As the Missionary and Vocational Animation director and Exorcist Priest in the Diocese of Lyon, France, Fr. KOFFI embodies these values with conviction and dedication. Beyond his official duties, he is also a committed educator, working with the Guides of Europe and the Scouts and Guides of France. His commitment to youth and his investment in the training of future spiritual leaders testify to his holistic vision of consecrated life.

Through his work, Fr. KOFFI invites us to profound introspection, to a collective examination of conscience about the nature of our vocations and responsibilities. In a world in search of meaning and direction, his words resonate as a call to rediscover the very essence of our spiritual commitment, beyond material contingencies and personal ambitions.

In conclusion, “Heaven’s Hell” by Fr. Elysée KOFFI, SMA, emerges as an illuminating voice in the complex debate on consecrated life. Through his profound reflections and lived experience, he reminds us that true religious vocation is not a path to individual fulfillment but a humble response to divine calling, a self-offering in the service of humanity as a whole.

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