Missioning Ceremony

The ceremony of missioning at the Little Daughters of St. Joseph Spirituality Centre comes at the conclusion of three months in the Orientation Programme or OP.  For the last twelve weeks, twenty-one Christian Brothers have engaged in an experience of renewal and transformation.  Now, they were leaving to return to their home Province or District.

The opening hymn in Kiswahili (Hii ndiyo siku) which translated said, ‘This is the day which God has made.  Let’s sing for joy to praise God – a fitting beginning to a moment where Brothers express their gratitude for the three-month experience of the OP.

Br Sean McManus (from Oceania) welcomed the invited guests who had been part of the journey of renewal during the OP.

Jim Catterson (from England), Kephas Ndalama (from Zambia) and Ceddy Andrade (from India) stood at the various banners posted on the walls of the meeting room while the Congregation responded with: “We are standing at the edge, willing and ready to enter a radically different way of being disciples of Jesus and followers of Edmund.”

Vincent Mallya (from Tanzania), Phil Grundy (from Oceania) and Jerry Ekka (from India) shared their experience of the OP and how it has impacted on their lives.

The missioning ritual followed where the Brothers were called by their mentors to be anointed with oil as a sign of being consecrated for the mission of Brotherhood. Sister Alba, and Brothers David, Donal and Sunil have walked with these Brothers in this journey of renewal.  Each Brother received from Francis Hall (from England) a certificate of attendance at the OP and from Tony Shanahan (District Leader of East Arica District) a travel bag with the words ‘Journeying Together’ blazoned on its side. The Brothers then entered into their community groupings at the centre of the meeting room.

Sunil Britto (from India) invited David Gibson (from Ireland) to share a message of support to the participants as they return to their homes.

The congregation then offered a Pilgrim prayer for the Brothers: “O God, who guided the Hebrew People across the desert, we ask that you watch over these Brothers as they move in the love of your name to their communities”  (Based on the ancient prayer for pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela).

The Brother participants in turn sang a blessing song for the invitees and expressed in gestures their wish that vision and truth will companion them as they too return to their homes or communities.

Br Simon Kaswahili (from Tanzania) offered a vote of thanks to the invitees for coming and to the TST for their work in organising the OP.

The missioning ceremony concluded with the Galilee Song as the participants mingled again with the congregation. They sang: ‘So, I leave my boats behind, leave them on familiar shores’, to indicate their commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and Edmund.

 

 

 

Evaluation of the Orientation Programme

Bev Watkinson came to assist the Brothers to evaluate the OP. Bev formerly worked in Centrecare in Queensland and has been in Nairobi for the last two years. She is a volunteer at the Ruban Centre. She encouraged the group to be honest as they reflect on the process of the OP. She introduced the 5 Ps: Participant, Passenger, Pilot, Prisoner, Protector as a tool for reflection and evaluation of the programme. She explained the various roles of the 5 Ps.

Participant:Actively involved in the learning process and is attentive

Passenger:Is ok to let others take the lead, and doesn’t want to take initiative

Pilot:The organizer who believes nothing will happen without them

Prisoner:I don’t want to be here and is afraid to allow things to change them

Protector:making sure everyone is happy and listening but are they so concerned with what is happening

She distributed a form where Brothers were invited to fill out where they positioned themselves with regard to the 5 Ps. Then, she invited the group to respond to the following questions:

What has changed for you?

So what!

What am I taking into the future? How will I put this material into my life?

The group then met to evaluate the various programmes and to show the evaluation on a time-line.Later groups were invited to compose a virtual Facebook page!

Looking to the Future

The morning prayer took the theme of ‘Embracing Change’ and took a passage from the Gitasaar which focused on the idea of the present happening NOW! The prayer concluded with the following prayer:

Face the future, for the past is over and gone.

Live with the memories.

Learn with the memories.

Learn from experiences.

Let go of grievances.

Resolve differences.

Live in the sight of God, in the way of God.

Be strong.

God has seen us through good times and bad.

God will bless our future as God has held our past.

God go with you.

Then Donal began the session on the idea of gardening, and went on to share how the Congregation Leadership Group reflected on the toxicity that had entered the Congregation. He stressed that, on an individual and community level, each Brother could be playing a part in recognizing the shadow in the body, bringing it into the light, and then working to heal the body.  Each one has a contribution to make in this process of healing.  This involves a commitment to change.

The Brothers then took personal time to make decisions as to what they will commit to doing when they return home, and what they will stop doing as well.

In the second session, Francis Hall introduced a conversation on the Journeying Togetherproject.  He invited various groups to examine various aspects of the ministry of the clusters. The Brothers looked at the benefits that accrued from the cluster, and some of the blocks that have prevented Brothers from joining the cluster.

The final week of the Orientation Programme began with the idea of ‘Looking Back’. The theme of gratitude featured large in the morning prayer where Brothers were invited to reflect on what they were grateful for. They reviewed briefly the various elements of the programme.

The sessions in the morning began to examine possible shifts that Brothers had experienced during the OP.  They took some time to identify what change had taken place in their lives, and they expressed these in the form of art.  Then, they shared the fruits of their reflections and gave space for Brothers to listen attentively.

It was decided then to give the afternoons free for the week that would allow Brothers to prepare for their departure.

Discernment Process

The morning prayer included the ceremony of the renewal of annual vows for Bruce, Clive and Smart.  We also celebrated the birthday if Kephas who was 36 today.

The first session of the morning was devoted to the idea of discernment.  Francis Hall facilitated this session, inviting the Brothers to examine what is involved in a discernment process, and to explore the difference between decision making and a process of discernment.  He then offered an exercise in discernment where the Brothers took some personal time to list two or three actions that could do after the OP.  Francis stressed the importance of interior freedom in any form of discernment, and when the Brothers re-assembled, they shared some of the insights they had gained.

The second session was devoted to harvesting the learnings from the week.  Here again, the Brothers took some personal time to see what they had learnt from the week’s programme.  They used the 4 Rs of harvesting:  Resonance, Resistance, Re-alignment and Resolution.  Then, in the open forum, they shared some of the learnings that they had harvested.

Edmund Rice Camps

 

On Friday, the Brothers went to experience what an Edmund Rice Camp was like.  This was indeed an inspiring and challenging moment where the Brothers joined the Edmund Rice group of volunteers who regularly take a group of young children for a day’s outing of activities and games.  All the Brothers were invited to participate actively in the day and found the energy and life of the volunteers simply inspiring.  The day began at 9.00 a.m. and continued until lunch at 2.00 pm.  Then the children had the opportunity to express their experience of the camp in dance, song and mime.  Then when the children had departed, the volunteers had a briefing session where they expressed their thoughts and feelings on the experience.  It was indeed a fantastic experience of how the spirit of Blessed Edmund is alive and well!

 

 

Ministry in Prophetic Religious Life

Today, the Brothers celebrated Presentation Day for the Sisters of the Presentation.  We congratulated Alba on this remembrance of the contribution of Nano Nagle.

Francis Hall presented the idea of Prophetic religious life, inviting the Brothers to explore what specifically was prophetic about religious life.  He outlined the various Chapter documents which stressed the prophetic element of the Christian Brothers.  The Brothers then outlined key aspects of prophetic ministry.  Francis then invited the Brothers to identify  ministries in each of the Districts and Provinces which satisfied these criteria. From the list they drew up, a representative from that region presented one ministry that was truly prophetic.

In the second half of the morning, Francis described the cluster in Western Province as a shining example of prophetic ministry.

 

Conflict Management Part II

The day began with a ceremony of reconciliation where Brothers shared on some experiences of forgiveness that they had undergone in the past.  Then all were invited to wash the hands of a companion as a symbol of reconciliation.

Kathy then began the second day of the workshop by  asking the group to share or express what they expected from the day. The Brothers wanted to explore how to deal with conflict in the community. Some observed how many people withdraw in the face of conflict.  Others shared how the conflict between two people can impact on the atmosphere of the whole community.  The question remains how to deal with this situation.

Kathy explained the concept of ‘ripeness’ where the situation needs to be at a stage where the conflict can be addressed.  She then introduced the 8 tools of the leader mediator based on the work of Mark Gerzon (Leading Through Conflict: How Successful Leaders Transform Differences into Opportunities). The group divided into groups and discussed these 8 tools:

  • Integral vision
  • Systems Training
  • Presence
  • Inquiry
  • Conscious Conversation
  • Dialogue
  • Bridging
  • Innovation

Later Kathy explained how dealing with a conflict, the facilitator needs to ask the following questions

  1. Who is involved?
  2. What is the issue? (interests, values, emotions)
  3. What is the relationship between the parties?
  4. What are:
  • the best alternatives,
  • the most likely alternatives
  • the worst alternatives?

What’s the best role for me as facilitator?

Kathy went on to explain the triangle of satisfaction as a way to analyse  what goes on in a moment of conflict.

 

 

Third Integration Day – Emergence

Today was the third integration day where the Brothers spent the day reflecting on what they had learnt over the past month.  The Brothers went to various retreat centres here in Nairobi (Dimesse and Mwangaza) and met their spiritual directors.  As part of the preparation for this day, the following reflection was given to each one as an aid for reviewing the last month of the Orientation Programme.

Emergence.
Hopefully the person that emerges out of this OP experience will be different to some degree from the person that entered it.  You might like to spend some time noticing and noting some of the small shifts and movements that have occurred within you over the past ten weeks or so. You might wish to note these in your diary and perhaps share some of them in the next encounter with your mentor.

We are now not too far from Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Yes, it is good to remember and celebrate the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth the historical person, but it is even more important to celebrate the birth of Christ within each one of us. How is the Christ being born within myself? Has my True Self, the dwelling place of the Divine, begun to emerge or am I still dominated by my ego? This is the real question, not the story of the baby Jesus lying in a manger in Bethlehem. Sue Monk Kidd tells a nice little story about an old man complaining: ‘They call me a Christian but I have not yet become Christ.’
She has another story of herself greeting a monk in a monastery she had been visiting one Christmas: She said ‘Merry Christmas’ to which the monk replied ‘May the Christ be born in you this Christmas’. She wasn’t expecting that but it set her thinking!!

As the True Self begins to emerge we must remember that new life comes slowly, awkwardly on wobbly wings. Perhaps some little shafts of light have begun to shine on those troubling questions I(you) have been living with? Perhaps some small seeds of insight are emerging.

New Beginnings

Beginningscan be untidy………the messiness of birth…the birth of Jesus in the stable ….even more so.
Beginningsare marked by new energy and new direction, perhaps an expression of a new identity. They are much more than what we might call a ‘start’or a new set of circumstances.

The beginningwill take place only after they have come through the wilderness and are ready to make the emotional commitment to do things the new way and see themselves as new people. Starts involve new situations. Beginnings involve new understandings, new values, new attitudes, and – most of all –new identities.Beginningscan and should be nourished like a plant.” (William Bridges.)

Beginningsare organic…they cannot be forced but they can be encouraged, supported, and reinforced. You cannot turn a key or flick a switch but you can cultivate the ground and provide the nourishment.
For a New Beginning (John o ’Donoghue)

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

 

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

 

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

 

Being a Eucharistic Community

The morning  prayer was a love rendition to all that is held sacred for the Christian Brothers. It was based on the foundational charism and it’s unfolding in our time. A meditative dialogue connected the participants of the OP with Edmund Rice as they shared their hopes and dreams for the future. The song, ‘ Where to now Edmund?’,  brought a fitting closure to the inspiring prayer.

The themes addressed on the final day of the programme were:

  • The Life of Jesus as the basis for Eucharist
  • Being an Eucharistic Community
  • Spirituality and The Breath of The Spirit

Talking about the Eucharist, Diarmuid highlighted its deeper meaning in the words of the theologian John Dominic Crossan: “ It is in food and drink offered equally to everyone that the presence of God and Jesus is found. So the Lord’s supper is political criticism and economic challenge as well as sacred rite and liturgical worship.” Being an Eucharistic Community as Jesus intends us to be, can be understood only in the context of inclusivity which is  one of the bench marks of Jesus’ teaching.

The significance of the Holy Spirit was explained at great depth,  as a primal understanding in the human heart. A whole new understanding of the Spirit’s gifts in our time was presented as quantum relativity, uncertainty, probability, complementarity, non-locality, synchronicity and change.

The key points to consider and integrate in our lives from today’s sessions are the following:

  • Sacredness has neither beginning nor end
  • Ultimate mystery is intimately near.
  • Our earthiness is the medium that connects us with the divine.
  • We don’t worship the Great Spirit – we co-create with it.
  • Ethics/Morality is about relating rightly with all creation.
  • Prayer is about expressing Spirit – not addressing God.

The one week’s programme was brought to a close, through a meaningful ritual during which  each Brother lit a lamp and invoked the Spirit of Christ, to help them live out the insights, they had embraced during the week. Harvesting Time further enabled the participants to name and celebrate the learning of the week.