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

 

Engaging with the people in Mukuru slum

PIC: Brs. Edwin  and Melkizedeck doing a survey in Mukuru slum, Nairobi

The last two weeks have been engaging for us in ministry. We are involved in a research ministry trying to assess the effectiveness of the educational and sponsorship programmes at Ruben centre. The research is also trying to get views from the locals about a possible construction of a public secondary school at Ruben centre. This activity targets former students from the years 2012-2016.

We are a team of five  involved in the research . The other three members are former students of African Education Fund (AEF), a Japanese NGO project and they are really helpful in trying to track our target group.  We are also indebted to Br. Frank O’Shea who has accorded us full support in terms of resources and ideas.

As a team we are applying two methodologies to try and achieve our objectives. Firstly, we are engaging in door to door interviews of former students or their parents. We move around Mukuru slum tracking these individuals and letting them fill a questionnaire. Secondly, on the 4th of Feb we invited former students and/or their parents to Ruben centre for an information day and fun day. This was to try and get more information even on those who might have passed on or moved from Mukuru. Both methods are proving to be yielding good results.  So far we have interviewed 314 individuals out of 928 students who passed through AEF between 2012-2016.

We are looking forward to the coming six weeks in ministry. The experience is deep and touching. Apart from engaging in the research we also get chance engage, interact and visit the locals and through these we are also evangelised and challenged into living a more simple lifestyle.

Brs. Edwin Wekullo and Melkizedeck Musamia ,East Africa District (They have volunteered for the second OP in India and are currently on their Placement experience)

The First Two Weeks in Cebu

Luke Quinn with the four brothers from Oceania – Moy, Dennis. Theo and Ian – who have voluntereed for the next OP.

Greetings to you all from a hot and humid Cebu, which is a long thin island in the Philippines, lying conveniently between the island of Negros and the island of Leyte, where Brothers are already living and working (in Kabankalan and Ma’asin, respectively). This whole belt of islands is called the Visayas, and lies between Luzon (and Manila City) to the north, and Mindanao to the south. There are another 7,000 islands in the Philippines, shared by 105 million people, so we had plenty to choose from!

Who are we? Dennis Fernandez, 31, a Philippino from Leyte who’s just completed his novitiate in Ghana, Theo Alvares, 51, an Indian from Mangalore, who’s spent six years on Leyte, Ian Robertson, 65, an Australian from Brisbane, most recently from Mt Archer in Queensland, and Moy Hitchen, 66, an Australian from Sydney, who’s just finished 9 years in Europe.

We are just starting our third week in Lahug, a suburb (or barangay) of Cebu City, and are comfortably housed in the Presentation Sisters novitiate, in the foothills to the north of Cebu City. We were given our first week of training by Damien Price, to be followed by Luke Quinn next week, and we are building our own community here, in a steep valley full of houses, but with pockets of lush tropical growth too.

The Presentation Sisters are helping us with practical details of running the house (how to pump the water, how to recycle the garbage, how to fix the internet, etc). The Holy Spirit Sisters, across town, are supporting us with spiritual accompaniment, and the Divine Word community of priests, brothers and lay colleagues are helping us find ministry placements. We have already visited several of these and start making our decisions this week.

We plunged into two weeks of fairly constant rain, from a passing cyclone, and fairly noisy fiesta, celebrating the Holy Child (Senor Santo Nino) who’s the patron of the island and Cebu City. Things may be dryer and quieter this week – we’ll see. Our blessings on all the new ventures starting around us. It’s great to be in touch.

 

Moy Hitchen, Jan 22, 2017

Location search process in India (2016)

PLT and TST members welcomed by the people of Patharlyndan Village (Meghalaya)

Overview of the Location search process during the year:
I. Jan 2016: Survey of individual Brothers of the Indian Province to identify states that most fulfil the criteria for setting up the new Cluster. These were later clubbed into zones because of the great variety of states that emerged out of the Province survey.

II. March 2016: Indian Social Institute, Delhi was commissioned to conduct a desktop study of the three Zones most prioritised by the Communities:
• Zone 1: Jharkhand and bordering areas of Chhattisgarh and Odisha
• Zone 2: Assam and bordering areas of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh
• Zone 3: Bihar &West Bengal

III. April 2016: Two Zones that broadly met our criteria were selected for a more in-depth study of the districts. These were: Zone 1: Assam and Meghalaya & Zone 2: Jharkhand
6 Brothers (Griban, John P, Maurice, Lurshai, Ryan and Willie) divided themselves into two teams of 3 each and conducted on-site location visits of the villages/dioceses in these two selected zones in the months of April and May 2016. At the end of this process, Zone 1 comprising of Assam and Meghalaya, was chosen.

IV. July 2016: A detailed Baseline research by the Indian Social Institute was conducted over a month, of five Districts of Assam & Meghalaya, which most fit our criteria, and a Report presented to the PLT-TST for study and action.

V. August-September 2016: A site-study of the 3 selected districts (Sonitpur, Assam; Ri Bhoi & West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya) was conducted by Bipin, Lurshai, Sameer and Ruvan over 6 weeks. The team visited 24 villages and recommended 9 possible sites to the PLT-TST for the Indian Cluster.
VI. November 2016: 3 members of the PLT and 2 members of the TST visited the 9 recommended sites. A joint report was prepared and shared with both the PLT & the TST.

VII. December 2016: During a 3-day meeting of the PLT and the TST the Joint Report was discussed and 4 possible sites for the Cluster communities were identified and ranked in order of priority. The appropriate Bishops will be intimated, the Brothers in the Province informed and the village communities engaged in early 2017 to prepare for the arriving of the Brothers towards the end of the year.

It was after much discernment and with much heart-burn that first the Jharkhand Zone and then Assam needed to be dropped off our reckoning. The Jharkhand Zone has a predominance of Adivasi tribal people who have been systematically disenfranchised and hence the area ranked highest on the Indian Brothers survey prioritisation. Yet, both the ISI person and the Brothers ground study corroborated the dangers to any project involving foreign nationals in the backdrop of the presence of several armed groups. In comparison the north-eastern states (Zone 2) which also had a significant Christian population and a lesser influence of armed or right-wing Hindu groups seemed more suited to our purpose.

Among the North Eastern states, Arunachal Pradesh, a border state, has stringent restrictions for foreigners so it too had to be ruled out. Despite what was being advised about Assam (which for the first time has a BJP Government) the Second Location Search Team of 4 Brothers, interacted with Bishops, Priests, NGO personnel and others. Sonitpur district in Assam along with Ribhoi & West Khasi Hills Districts in Meghalaya, were the 3 districts identified as being most aligned with our location criteria. However, the Teams’ findings reinforced the security concerns for foreigners to stay in Assam. Hence, the decision of the PLT-TST to focus only on Meghalaya for the new Indian Cluster.

Cluster Project Advisory Team

13 December  marked an important  milestone in the Zambian cluster project.  The first  Cluster Project Advisory Team meeting took place  at Hub community house.  
The members of the Cluster Project Advisory Team are:

1. Mrs. Moona-(Jesuit Centre of Theological Reflection)
2. Mr. Mwimanenwa Mooto ( Dean of Students Balotse University)
3. Mrs. Mwala ( Principle Mongu Teachers College)
4. Sr. Numba PBVM (Lecturer Mongu Teachers College)
5. Br Joe Lauren (Cluster Leader)

6. Br Mark Cody (Hon. treasurer)
7. Br Samuel Munyua ( Member of the Hub Community)
8.Mr Martin Silutongue (Ministry Co-ordinator) 
The Cluster Project Advisory Team was established to oversee the planning and management of the ministries in the mission communities. We wish to acknowledge the generosity of the members of this Advisory Team in giving their time and expertise to support the work of the mission communities.