Closing Ceremony for the Leaders and Formators Programme

The day began with Mass, celebrated by Fr Michael Murphy, a Kiltegan Priest, who has been our chaplain for the entire programme.  The experience of a meaningful liturgy is something that the Brothers have appreciated throughout the programme, and this is in no small way due to the beautiful presence of Fr Michael.

Then some time later, the Brothers gathered to mark the closure of the LFP.  Again, this session was truly moving as the Brothers reflected on the experience they had undergone over the past month.  The theme of journey formed the thread of the ceremony, where Brothers were invited to look back on the programme they had experienced, and to look forward to the journey ahead.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, each Brother was presented with a certificate that marked the successful completion of the LFP.


And so the month-long Leaders and Formators Programme (LFP)came to an conclusion today.  The Brothers met as usual for a rich morning prayer where all the elements of the programme were reflected in the centrepiece.

The Brothers were invited to spend some personal time, reflecting on the learnings that they had harvested over the month.  Then they broke into two groups – leaders and formators together – where they shared what they had learnt over the period.

Finally an open forum facilitated further discussion on the LFP and concluded with a song, On the Journey.

Co-Creative Leadership

Donal and David presented this three-day workshop.  David began by outlining how religious orders grow, develop and usually decline within the space of three hundred years.  He then went on to show how organisations can go through various stages before ceasing to exist.  He then explained how Theory U is designed to move organisations that are not performing as they could to a place where they re-kindle the original vision and begin once again to crystallise the core vision.  This leads to a time of prototyping where a group within the organisation ‘tries out’ a new initiative that can reflect where the organisation wants to go.

Donal then invited those Brothers who had attended the Congregation Leadership Group (CLG) last June, to share how they experienced the process that focussed a lot on the toxins that can be found in our Congregation.

The final session involved the Brothers forming groups of leaders and formators to identify the toxins that may be in their area of influence.

Nelson Mandela and Apartheid

On Tuesday, the Brothers visited the Apartheid museum.  The Apartheid Museum takes you on a journey beginning with segregation, the cornerstone of apartheid, through the years of race classification and the oppression of the nationalist regime, then the rise of black consciousness and the armed struggle, to the release of Nelson Mandela and negotiations for peace. It finishes with celebration and hope for the future.

Again, this two-and- a- half-hour visit highlighted the leadership qualities of those who fought for justice and equality for those who suffered from the unjust apartheid system that lasted almost fifty years.

The guided tour took the Brothers through the Nelson Mandela section of the museum, and ended with the Apartheid section.  As the Brothers journeyed through the museum, they were invited to reflect on the following questions.

  • What is making an impression on you?
  • What moves you?
  • Name some of the feelings you experience
  • What questions are arising?
  • What is your overall response to the visit?



The Experience of Apartheid


The Leaders and Formators programme has included a brief immersion module to introduce the participants to the reality of Apartheid that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.  The first place that the Brothers visited was Liliesleaf Farm.

Recognised as one of South Africa’s leading heritage sites, Liliesleaf opened to the public in June 2008 and has since attracted thousands of local and international visitors, eager to understand and engage with a pivotal period in South Africa’s liberation struggle. The museum pays testimony to the many lives that changed the political landscape of this country and through its educational programmes, appeals to younger audiences to face today’s challenges with creative enthusiasm.

In 1961, Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia was purchased by Arthur Goldreich and Harold Wolpe as headquarters for the underground Communist Party and a safe house for political fugitives. The purchase was made using South African Communist Party funds. Nelson Mandela needed a safe place from which to operate, and lived there under the assumed name of David Motsamayi as a worker in blue overalls employed by the owner to look after the farm.

On 11 July 1963, security police raided the farm and captured 19 members of the underground, charging them with sabotage. They were meeting in the thatched room, and were stunned by the raid.

George Mellis, the young son of the owner of the Rivonia Caravan Park, which lay opposite the entrance to Winston Avenue leading to the farm, saw cars coming and going and people of various races meeting and greeting each other. In those days that was sufficiently unusual for him to tell his family, and a string of reports, coincidences and rumours, and an informer in the military wing, led to the police raid.

The activists had already decided to move to another safe location, and this was to be the final meeting in the farmhouse. Nelson Mandela was already in prison, serving a sentence of several years for relatively minor offences, having been arrested the previous year. The police found documents during the raid that had been hidden in a coal bunker incriminating Mandela. As a result, he was charged and brought to trial with the others.

The trial, which ran from October 1963 to June 1964, culminated in the imposition of life sentences for eight of the accused.

The visit was an inspiring moment for all where the bravery of those who fought for justice and equality shone throughout the exhibition.

Psychological Games and Discounting

The morning began with Karen continuing work on psychological games, helping the Brothers understand how games can be played out in our everyday lives.  She went on then to introduce the concept of working styles, showing how people manage feelings of not OKness.  She explained that all of us have one or two working styles which we employ in order to maintain a positive sense of self.  These ‘drivers’ are particularly used when we feel somewhat under stress. We become driven to behave by feeling that we have to:

Be Perfect

Be Strong

Please others

Try Hard

Hurry up.

Karen then went on to discuss the idea of discounting where we, out of awareness, ignore certain information that would be helpful in resolving problems.  The groups discussed how discounting can prevent us from facing certain issues and reaching a satisfactory level of success.

Finally, Karen gave an explanation of how best to listen to each other, and provided a space where Brothers could practise three levels of listening where our inner chatter, our focus on the story and our unearthing of the deeper meaning of what a person is saying can be addressed.





I’m OK, You’re OK

Karen continued the TA workshop by introducing what Eric Berne termed existential positions.  This refers to how we view ourselves and others.  There are four possible positions:

I’M OK – YOU’RE OK (Healthy position)

I’M NOT OK – YOU’RE OK (Helpless position)

I’M OK – YOU’RE NOT OK (Hurtful position)

I’M NOT OK – YOU’RE NOT OK (Hopeless position)

She then went on to explain how we can play psychological games to reflect our Script and existential positions, and how these games play out in real life.  The Brothers entered into the process enthusiastically and found the exercise very helpful.

In both sessions, the Brothers were invited to see how these concepts play out in the leadership and formator roles.


In the OK-OK Box

Karen introduced a novel concept that she and Mbaligontsi developed from the fluency model of Susannah Temple.  In the diagram above we see that the Adult ego state focuses on the here and now in achieving solutions to problems and by using experience to help in this process.  The Adult is good at making decisions and asking questions to seek clarification.

Normally, we talk about how the freedom of the Adult ego state is ‘contaminated’ by the prejudices and demands of a controlling or critical parent as well as contamination by the fantasies and hurts of the Child ego state.

In the OK-OK communication model of Pratt and Mbaligontsi, we see that the Adult ego state is influenced by the positive impact of the Parent and Child.  These influences are contained in what the authors call the OK-OK box.

In this box, we see that instead of a Controlling Parent, we have a Structuring Parent that is assertive and able to set boundaries. And instead of an over-protective Nurturing Parent, we have one that is comforting, loving and encouraging.

Similarly, the influence of the Child ego state has a co-operative and considerate dimension instead of the compliant or rebellious Child ego contamination.  Similarly, instead of an immature and selfish Child contamination, there is the spontaneous, creative and curious influences that enrich the Adult ego state.

Transactional Analysis Workshop

The Leaders and Formators have been blessed to find Karen Pratt to facilitate the workshop on how the concepts of Transactional Analysis can be incorporated into the lives and work of leaders and formators.  Karen is a teaching and supervising transactional analysis with a specialisation in the field of education.  She has worked with many NGOs and church groups as well as with care workers.  She brings a vast experience in the field.

She began the workshop by inviting the Brothers to identify their expectation for the four-day workshop.  Then, she outlined the roles and responsibilities of both presenter and Brothers.

Later, she stressed the various hungers that we all have – for stimulation, for recognition and for structure and show how each of these hungers impact on the way we act and on our priorities.

She went on to discuss the idea of script; what we believe about ourselves, others and the future, and how these scripts have huge influence on the way we live our lives.  This led to a lively discussion on formation, and how people entering into formation will already have scripts that may prevent them from benefiting from the training.  Hence, the need to identify people’s scripts and work to change scripts that are not helpful.

Contemporary Spiritual Practices

Today, the Brothers began the day with a check-in.  The practice of check-in is becoming an increasingly frequent feature of communities that are trying to live at a deeper level.  The check-in lasts about 60-90 minutes where Brothers reflect on their experience of the week and seek to make sense of the various thoughts and feelings that they have experienced.

Following the check-in, Donal and David introduced some other spiritual practices which could benefit individuals and communities in their spiritual growth. David explained the purpose and method of the examen of consciousness as a way of increasing awareness.  He also suggested creating spiritual book clubs within and among communities in order to encourage reading along spiritual lines.  Donal then went on to explain the process of journalling, pointing out the value of keeping track of our spiritual journey.  Then, he explained the process of Lectio Divina and how this practice can deepen people’s appreciation of the Word of God in their lives.

In the afternoon, the group spent some individual time reflecting on the learnings from the previous week’s workshop on a contemporary understanding of Jesus.  They then assembled as a large group to share insights that they had gained from the workshop.