Fr. Elias Sindjalim was born in 1971 to Mary and Rafael Sindjalim in the Parish of Paguda Maria Gorretti, Northern Togo. He belongs to the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and he is the General Secretary in charge of formation in the General Chapter of the Comboni Missionaries, an office he has held since 2020.
In June 2022 during the General Chapter, he was elected the General assistant in the General Council. Growing up, Fr. Elias did not know anything about the Comboni Missionaries because the congregation was non-existent in Togo.
Fortunately, his father worked with the Postal services and kept getting transfers to different parts of the country. This opened a new chapter in their lives as they ended up in Central Togo where he met the Comboni Missionaries. He picked interest in becoming a priest when he was an altar boy. At that time, the only priests and religious he knew about were the diocesan Priests and not Missionaries.
It was not until one day when his friend brought him flyers from three different congregations that after reading, picked interest in the Comboni Missionaries. He was wowed by the charisma of the Comboni Missionaries. Although he loved the Comboni Missionaries, he dreaded leaving home to go for a mission since he had never left his parents. In 1989, he visited the Comboni Missionaries in Lome to begin his Missionary journey.
His Parish Priest was not amused that he was becoming a Missionary. His Bishop wanted him to be a diocesan Priest while his parents didn’t want to let go of him since he was the first child. Luckily for him, his culture dictates that the first child belongs to maternal grandfather so when his grandfather who was a catechist blessed him to go and follow his dream and happily offered him to the Lord, his parents could not oppose.
After high school, in 1991, Fr. Elias joined the seminary of the Comboni missionaries. He did two years of philosophy then Novitiate. In 1995, he took his first vows and he was immediately assigned to Chicago, Illinois to study Theology at Catholic Theological Union from 1995 to 2000. In-between in 1999, he also did a Masters Arts in Divinity.
Earlier in 2000, Fr. Elias returned to Togo and was sent to St Francis of Contonu Parish to do his Pastoral experience and ordained Priest on the 29th July 2000, at the Cathedral of St Theresa of the Child Jesus in Sokode, Lome.
His first assignment was as a formator at the Postulancy in Togo, becoming the first Togolese formator to work at the Postulancy from 2001 to 2002. In 2002, he traveled to Rome to take a course in formation and returned to the Postulancy where he worked until 2008. He returned to Rome to study Clinical psychology at the Gregorian University and he was awarded a Masters in Clinical psychology in 2012.
He was then assigned to the diocese of Kinshasa in Congo to work at the Scholasticate, also helping in psychotherapy, until 2017.
In 2017, Fr. Elias was called back to Rome to integrate with the team in Charge of ongoing formation of the Comboni Missionaries from 2017 to 2020.
In 2020, he got a new appointment as General Secretary in charge of formation, a position he has held to date. His duty as the Secretary General of formation is to coordinate all formation houses of the Comboni missionaries.
He said formation is one of the dimensions of the Comboni Missionaries and added that he has not found much difficulty since he has learnt a great deal from his predecessor, Fr. John Oparagiu. He is confident with his new duty of revising the process of formation because he knows his ground.
He worked in the office for one and a half years preparing material for evaluation until The General Council sat last June and elected him to the General Council as an assistant in the council.
Fr. Elias is so optimistic from the statistics of the General Council saying, “We have vocations, good formation. The challenge is to take full responsibility to have qualified formators. It’s an investment into their work, one of our mottos is quantity but we have to work and get more quality.”