Settling down and coming to know each other

PIC: With some students of St. Edmund’s Higher Secondary School

    The Brothers from the East Africa District arrived in Shillong last night. What a joy to have an African presence for the OP. They were in good spirits except for Kelvin and Isaac who were complaining of feeling feverish. The following day, 22 April, we gathered to begin the process of getting to know one another. We also had a rehearsal for the Ceremony of Welcome which will take place tomorrow, Sunday, 23 April. While this was going on, Kelvin and Isaac went to Nazareth Hospital. We hope they recover from their illnesses, the exact nature of which is yet to be determined.
    Following the rehearsal, some of the Brothers from India acted as guides to the Brothers from Africa to see downtown Shillong.
    In the afternoon, the St. Edmund’s welcomed the OP group to visit the campus and to be entertained by Khasi and Arunachal traditional dancers. The dancers were pupils of year 12 and we thank Tommy Samuel for arranging this cultural event. Abundant refreshments were available later thanks to Lenny Lobo’s generosity.

The Troops are Arriving!

 

   Today, 21 April sees the arrival of Brothers of the Orientation Program to be held at the Pastoral Centre in Shillong, in North-East India.  Over the next two days Brothers from different parts of India and Kenya will gather in the Pastoral Centre in preparation for the Ceremony of Welcome which takes place on Sunday, 23 April.   This is a momentous moment in the life of the Congregation where a group of Brothers have come to prepare to set up communities among the people of Meghalaya. 

   The Orientation Program will last for fourteen weeks and will focus on the spirituality of Journeying Together, the project of establishing clusters of communities in the developing world.  Already there is the first cluster in Western Province, Zambia, and this second cluster hopes to further promote Journeying Together as a new way of being Brother.

   Following the Orientation Program there will be a two-month Skills Training Program to develop the skills of community engagement. And finally, there will be a two-month language course in the local language Khasi.

   We wish all the Brothers gathered in Shillong every blessing for this period of preparation.

 

Aurea Dias, David Gibson, Sunil Britto (Organisers)

What We Experienced during the Placement in Cebu

PIC: Moy at Tapol Dumpsite

Between Jan 9 and Mar 31, we experienced the following placement situations:

  • Dumpsite Dwellers – visits to three major rubbish dumps around Cebu City and the communities living on or beside them.
  • Resettlement Villages – visits to three major resettlement villages for people formerly living in urban slums and as scavengers on dumpsites.
  • Urban Slum Dwellers – visits (by day and night) to slums around Cebu City.
  • Street Children – connections through mobile schools, drop-in centres and feeding programmes;
  • Women working as Prostitutes – visits to sites (streets & bars) in and around Cebu City and Mandaue City where the women worked.
  • Prisoners – visits to two jails in Cebu City and Mandaue City, with young men (14 – 17 yo) and women prisoners.
  • Badjao Community – visits to Indigenous community living on the margins of Cebu City
  • Drug Addicts – sharing sessions of Narcotics Anonymous with young men in jail, young women, and female prisoners.
  • Women recovering from exploitation – visits to three centres of a staged rehabilitation for girls and women, trafficked, drug addicted, and/or prostituted.

Placements were supervised by SVD Community, JPIC-IDC (run by SVDs), PBVM Sisters, SSpS Sisters and SGS Sisters.

Immersion in India

PIC: The Placement group setting out to Kolkata from Shillong

      Over the last 8 weeks we have had various life-enriching experiences in the villages of Assam and Meghalaya. Sent two by two, we stayed in the houses of certain families in these villages. Our primary objective was to observe their way of life, to see what nourished their lives, what gave them meaning and also study their customs and rituals, and to learn from their relationship with God.

      So during our stay with them, we chatted with them, visited houses, prayed for families and listened to the many stories that people shared with us. There were times when we were asked to help in the local schools and we either taught the children or ran training programs for the teachers.

      We were in awe of their quest for life, of the manner they coped with the ravages of nature, of their Job-like surrender in the midst of suffering. Their hospitality was over-whelming, and there seemed to be an open-house attitude prevalent in most of the families we visited.

      In our observations and interactions with the people, we noted that happiness went beyond possessions and circumstances, thus proving it was “an inside job”! It was obvious that the poor are the most vulnerable to being exploited and shows why they are more dependent on God than those that are self-sufficient. We saw that vested interests prevent the poor from improving their lot, and yet, like all people, the poor like their dignity respected. We agreed ultimately, that basic formal schooling was fundamental to human development.

The Immersion Experience thus furthered the rationale for OWITF, and helped us in bonding together for our Journeying Together.

Update on the Location search in India

Members of the PLT and TST have been engaged in the last few months working around different aspects of setting up of the new Cluster. Regarding the locations, the spot selected for the Hub community is a beautiful plot, along a stream in the village of Jyntru, 9 kms from Nongpoh, on the way to Shillong. This place is about 100 metres in from the Highway.

The first two mission Communities will be situated in Patharlyndan Village of Umkadhor Parish in West Khasi Hills District and in Umtyrkhang Village of Umsohlait Parish in Ri Bhoi District. All 3 of these locations are in the Shillong Archdiocese. In terms of distance from the Hub, they are each within 3 hours driving distance from Jyntru.

The Hub community land is about an acre and a half and has been purchased outright at a very reasonable price. Presently we are in the process of surveying and completing the land transfer documentation. We were involved in a slightly different process in acquiring the Mission Community properties. In both places, the village had identified at least 3 prime locations that they were ready to offer us and enthusiastic to have the Brothers there at the earliest. We have selected one property of those offered in each village and the village communities are going to be fencing and marking the boundaries in the next two weeks or so.

Both the Mission Community properties are part of local village community land and are being donated to the Brothers. A formal agreement is being signed between the Brothers and the Village to have its full use for as long as the Brothers stay in those villages. The Patharlyndan property is over an acre and is situated towards the edge of the village but with access to many other neighbouring villages and the Umtyrkhang property is less than an acre but is the absolute Centre of the Village.

Designs for the houses for the Hub and Mission Community are being finalised and Ruvan is supervising all the work on the ground in each of these locations. We are hoping to have the houses ready in time for the new communities to move into them in December 2017. With our best efforts we trust like Edmund that “the will of God be done in this and everything we undertake.”

The First Two Months in Cebu


Greetings to all of you from Dennis, Theo, Ian and Moy in Cebu City in the Philippines. We’ve just had our mid-term retreat and break last week, and are surprised to find there are only five weeks remaining in this first phase of our training for Journeying Together. The weather is warming up and our ministry placements are growing in complexity and number.

Our community had developed a rough sort of rhythm, but more frequent calls for evening work and our breaking into pairs for different experiences is requiring some flexibility. We honour our ‘Check-in Day’ on Fridays, and are enjoying the spiritual accompaniment provided by Sister Mila of the Holy Spirit Sisters, every fortnight or so. The washing, cleaning and shopping continue apace, and we’ve found our house a very comfortable place to live, in a noisy and crowded area.

The SVD community continue to guide us through our ministry placements and reflection on these powerful experiences with some of the poorest people in Cebu City. We’ve shared with teenage drug addicts, women working as prostitutes, women dying with AIDS, and many people who work as scavengers in the three large dumpsites around Cebu City. We have been visiting settlements where families have moved from dumpsites and slums. Dennis and Theo have kept us in touch through their language skills. Brother Paul Bongcaras svd has been our guide and mentor, as well as the staff of the JPIC centre run by the SVDs.

We’ve had two breaks from Cebu. We all travelled to Maasin to celebrate Dennis’ first vows in his home town, and to meet the other Brothers working in the Philippines, on the weekend of Jan 27 – 29. Last week (Feb 20 – 24), we spent three days on retreat on nearby Mactan Island, and then took two days break on the island of Bohol, again hosted by the Holy Spirit Sisters and SVD community. This helped us appreciate the sheer beauty of these places, often obscured by the gross wealth of some and the desperate poverty of most.

On our return, we were shocked and saddened by the news that Luke Quinn, our Cluster Leader, who helped orient us to Cebu, had had a serious accident and is now in a critical condition in a Brisbane hospital. We are in daily contact with the latest news, and we hope and pray for Luke.
Thanks for all your contributions, and we look forward to meeting you in April.

Immersion in North East India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIC: David & Romeo at an Adivasi Wedding

Being with the Adivasis and the Bodos for a fortnight each, has been for me a very enriching experience. Sent two by two, living with families in their houses, visiting local schools, walking/cycling to villages close by in order to meet as many people/ families as we could, partaking in their generosity as we shared a meal or a cup of tea,  listening to them as they shared about their lives, praying with them, observing the many things that were happening… all this and so much more is what I feel I am  so blessed to have experienced over the last month.

Seeing how people work so hard and struggle for the little they have and how they are so happy,  generous and open hearted, has been something that has touched me deeply. Their simplicity, trust and contentment is what I hope to make a part of my life as we begin our  month of immersion with the Khasi people. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TST in Shillong

PIC: Donal and Francis enjoying an aerial view of Shillong.

Members of TST have been arriving in Shillong to form community in the MIQ Juvenate house. We are most grateful to the Province Leadership Team for making this house available to us for the year. It is our third location in three years! Five members have now moved in and we keenly await the arrival of Chris Meehl from Australia. Ruvan was the pioneer in setting up the house, working on the refurbishment of the kitchen with the local carpenters, electrician and plumbers and numerous other jobs around the house. The kitchen is now the scene for TST-style home-cooking.

We are most grateful to our nearest neighbours, the Brothers on the St Edmund’s campus. We have received great help in settling in and look forward to shared times ahead. We were particularly happy to join the Brothers in hosting local Religious on February 2nd to celebrate the day for Consecrated Life.

TST work goes on apace with some exciting developments and challenges. We are busy with arrangements for Brothers coming to the Cluster Preparation Programme, which starts in April here in Shillong at the Pastoral Centre.

We spent the last three days in highly engaging conversations with four members of the Indian Province Leadership Team. We very much missed Steve Fernandes who is recovering from recent illness. We got on well with the challenging business of planning for the new Cluster of Christian Brothers’ communities in Meghalaya. We covered many issues … purchase of land and construction of houses, the possible personnel structures for the new Cluster, drawing from the learnings from the Zambia cluster, and the financing of the whole project in India. Whilst a lot of work remains to be done we found a great spirit of trust and willingness to work together which gave us all hope. Words from our final morning prayer capture the spirit well:

“Go! Just Go! Go with my power. Risk the road, risk the work. Go! I will be with you. What else do you need?” Lk 9:6

 

Immersion in Kabwe

Its now a month and a week since we came to Kabwe community,the Central part of Zambia.  As  newly professed brothers, Leo, Peter, Joseph and Ackim we acknowledge the fact that we were well received by the members of the community that includes Brs. Seamus, John McCourt, Brian, Moses, Emmanuel  and later on Br. Bonaventure joined us.

I must confess that ongoing formation is taking place in our community, during daily recreation, community prayers, and whenever we have community meetings we grow by challenging each other with love. Eucharist and spiritual reading has been helpful in nourishing  our faith. In community we have been listening to each other and to know one another as brothers of Edmund Rice and Jesus.

We minister at Missionaries of Charity community school. The school consists of grade one up to grade four, thereafter the children are send to Government schools where they will proceed. We report at school around 7.30am just after mass which is at 6.30am. At school we start with the rosary before the first class and we have mid-day prayers before we continue with the last part of the classes which finishes at 15.00 hrs. Within the school compound there is an orphanage, hospital and feeding programme.We also take part in feeding programme during break and lunch time.

We are touched with the generosity of Missionaries of Charity sisters, since we came here we have experienced compassion and the power of love and we thank them for providing us with tea and lunch. In community we have been listening to each other and continue to know one another as  brothers of Edmund Rice and Jesus Christ.

 Ackim Lubinda Simasiku

Lectio Divina – a method for the weekly Community Check-in

 

 

Every week on Mondays, regardless of where the TST members are we have a Check-in as a community. When we are together, we do it face to face and otherwise by skype. You are aware of the publication Check-in with your soul which has many reflections for a Community Check-in.

This Monday we used the steps of Lectio Divina for the Check-in. The scripture reading was taken from the Sunday’s gospel and the process is described below.

COMMUNITY LECTIO DIVINA

 (Light a candle. The candle reminds us of the presence of the Holy Spirit with us.)

 Listening For God’s Word

  1. LISTEN

When the text is read for the first time, listen for a word or phrase from the text that especially touches your heart.

( What is a particular word or phrase that stands out for you from the text?

What word/phrase catches your attention?

What words, phrases, or images do you hear as though for the first time?

Instead of a word or phrase, it could also be an image.)

 

A reader reads slowly the text: (Mt 5: 13 – 16)

You are the salt of the earth.

But if the salt loses its saltiness,

how can it be made salty again?

It is no longer good for anything,

except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 

You are the light of the world.

A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Neither do people light a lamp

and put it under a bowl.

Instead they put it on its stand,

and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others.

 New International Version

  1. SILENCE (about three minutes)

Repeat to yourself the word, phrase or image that stays with you and wait in silence for time to share.

  1. SHARING

Each person shares aloud the word, (phrase/image) that has attracted them: one or two words – no elaboration. Meanings and interpretations will come later.

 

God’s Word Speaking To Your Life

  1. LISTEN

When the text is read for the second time, we look at how the text speaks to you and your present experience. Take the word or phrase into yourself  and allow it to interact with your inner world of emotions, memories, and thoughts.

Another reader reads slowly another version of the text: (Mt 5: 13 – 16)

You are the salt of the earth;

but if salt has lost its taste,

how can its saltiness be restored?

It is no longer good for anything,

but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

 

You are the light of the world.

A city built on a hill cannot be hid.

No one after lighting a lamp

puts it under the bushel basket,

but on the lampstand,

and it gives light to all in the house.

In the same way,

let your light shine before others.

NRSV

  1. SILENCE (about five minutes)

Reflect over:

What are your feelings as you listen to the text/ repeat the chosen phrase?

What life experience of yours does the text speak to and touch?

How is your own life is mirrored in the text?

What makes you feel drawn to this phrase?

What meaning does it hold for you? What does it remind you?

 

  1. SHARING

Share your reflections.

 

God’s Word Inviting You To Do Or Be

  1. When the text is read for the third and last time, we are invited to shift from conversing with ourselves about the text to communicating with God. We entrust our life story to God and present ourselves to be changed, refashioned and healed.

Another reader reads slowly another version of the text (Mt 5: 13 – 16).

Let me tell you why you are here.

You’re here to be salt-seasoning

that brings out the God-flavours of this earth.

If you lose your saltiness,

how will people taste godliness?

You’ve lost your usefulness

and will end up in the garbage.

 

Here’s another way to put it:

You’re here to be light,

bringing out the God-colours in the world.

God is not a secret to be kept.

We’re going public with this,

as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers,

you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?

I’m putting you on a light stand.

Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop,

on a light stand—shine!

Keep open house;

be generous with your lives.

The Message

  1. SILENCE (about five minutes)

Reflect over:

What is God’s personal invitation to you?

What do you sense God might be saying to you?

From what you have heard and shared, what is God inviting you to do or be today/this week?

How is S(he) inviting you to change?

 

  1. SHARING

Share a prayer of awareness, discernment, or gratitude that the meditation on the text has called forth.

 

Resting In God’s Word

Be still and silent, wordless. Enjoy the nearness of God.

Let God lead you into deeper love and union. Let God be as God is.

                                                                                                                            

  1. Invite all into a time of silence to rest deeply in God’s loving presence. Ask all to release themselves and their prayer to God in childlike trust.
  2. After the silent prayer, pray for the members of the community and for their shared intentions.

 

DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE VERSION OF COMMUNITY LECTIO DIVINA