The Missioning Ceremony

Today the Missioning Ceremony of the 5thOrientation Programme  took place when the 15 Brother participants  gathered in the Little Daughters of St. Joseph Retreat Centre along with invited guests.  This was be an important moment for the Brothers when they were being missioned back to their respective countries.

The choir from Edmund Rice School Embulbul opened the ceremony singing Hii ndiyo siko: This is the day which God has made. Let us sing for joy to praise God .

Br Alphas Odoyo welcomed the invited guests and introduced the theme of the ceremony: Go Light Your World.

The choir then sang Christ has no body now but yours to highlight the challenge facing the Brothers who will take an active part in ministry to people, especially those who have been made poor by unjust structures.

Lynette and some of the Brothers enacted the Gospel reading which highlighted the cost of discipleship.

The missioning ritual followed where the members of the Orientation Programme Team anointed the Brother participants as a way of sending them out in mission.

Once anointed, they were presented with a travelling bag with the inscription Journeying Together on it, together with a certificate of attendance presented by Br Tony Shanahan and Br Amandi Mboya from the East Africa District Leadership Team.

Sister Lynette Rodriques invited the guests to give a round of applause for the anointed Brothers.

Brothers Marvin Phiri, Christian Hazeley and Alphas Odoyo then briefly shared the experience of the Orientation Programme and how it had impacted on them.

The blessing ritual followed where each of the Brothers said a blessing prayer for another Brother and presented him with a candle as he said: ‘Go Light Your World!” The Brother then lit his candle and placed it in the centre piece.

As the blessing ritual unfolded, the choir sang: To the Mystery that calls me, I say ‘Yes!” and Sr Lynette called on the invitees to bless the Brothers as they returned to their respective countries.

The Brothers faced the congregation with candle in hand and sang a blessing for the invitees: May vision and truth companion you.  May beauty be in your eyes.  May peace fill your being.  Love hold you close.  Earth give you guidance. Stars give you hope.  Blessing of life to you.

As the ceremony moved to conclusion, Br Ajay Dang from India offered a vote of thanks to all who had been involved in the Orientation Programme.  He expressed the gratitude of the Brothers for all the people who had made the Orientation Programme a moment of transformation for the Brothers.

As the Brother exited together with the guests, the choir sang the final song:  Go Light Your World!

The people then gathered to cut the celebratory cake and partook of light refreshments

 

 

Final Evaluation

Today was the final day of the Orientation Programme and was devoted to evaluating the whole experience.  Bev Watkinson, from the Ruban Centre, conducted the morning’s work.

She began by stressing that every experience requires us to reflect on it so that we can learn and then apply the learning to our daily lives and work.   She invited the Brothers to assess what learning was achieved, the learning that went well as well as those aspects that worked less well and which could have been done differently. She used Kirkpatrick’s model of Reactions, Learnings, Results and Behaviours to identify how the Brothers integrated the whole experience.

She also asked some volunteers to share how they experienced the conflict management workshop and  the prayer experience. She then invited every Brother to draw a timeline where they marked which of the course had a positive or negative impact on him and these timelines were collected for further analysis.

Bev also introduced the idea of five types of attendees:  participants, passengers, protesters, protectors and pilots, and invited Brothers to see in which categories they would put themselves.

Finally, each Brother was asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire on the whole experience of the OP which also will be collated by Bev.

Re-entry

 

Today Amandi and Bill began the day with looking back on what had been done the previous day and taking some of the reflections from the Brothers.

Then, they enacted a role play where a Brother returned to his community and attempted to introduce some of the spiritual practices that they had experienced during the OP.  A discussion followed where many expressed the idea that the challenge first lies with the individual Brothers to live what they had learnt over the last three months.  Then, gradually, they can suggest some changes while recognising that there could be some resistance to their suggestions.

Finally, Amandi and Bill invited the Brothers to write a letter to themselves, outlining what practically they intend doing when they return home to maintain the learnings of the OP.  They then exchanged these letters and the Brother receiving another Brother’s letter was asked to post it to the owner in a month or so, and then connect with that Brother to offer support on the continuing spiritual journey.

Re-Orientation

Today began a two-day process of helping the participants to think about how best to re-enter their communities.  The process was facilitated by the Community Support Team from the East Africa District comprising Tom Kearny, Bill Colford and Amandi Mboya.  The session began with the team playing the song Follow Me which led to a good discussion on the words of the song.

Then the team introduced three symbols: the sieve, the sponge and the flowing plant.  They asked the Brothers which symbol best reflected how they had entered into the Orientation Programme and what they had gained from it.

Finally, they share the story of the house by the river and how the owner wanted to cross the river that had no bridge or stepping stones.  This parable prompted the group to reflect on what they needed to leave behind as they journey into the future.

This was a really fruitful day, helping the Brothers begin to think on how they are going to bring the learnings of the OP back home.

Holistic Approach to Ministry

Hedwig continued her workshop on a Rights-Based Sustainable Mission by stressing the difference between the banking approach to education and the pedagogy of the oppressed.  In the former approach, the teacher is considered the one with all the information while the student is a passive receptacle for the knowledge being handed down.  In the latter approach, the teacher is seen more as an animator who provides a framework for common problem solving.

She went on to quote from Lao Tzu who said:”Go to the people, earn from them, live with them, start with what they know, build with what they have.”  She then focused on the elements of the TST Strategy document that emphasises presence, engagement, empowerment and transformation, stressing how this approach is both respectful and effective in working with people who have been made poor.

Finally, Hedwig outlined six strategies for doing a sustainable ministry.  These strategies focus principals on the target group in question as well as on the environment of this same group.  She stressed that the focus on the environment is vital so as to support the target group once they begin to change and develop.  By neglecting the environment, we run the risk of allowing the progress that is being made to diminish due to lack of support.

Rights-Based Sustainable Development

Rights-based sustainable mission

This two-day workshop is being facilitated by Hedwig Nafula from the Wholistic Leadership Group.  Hedwig began by stressing the importance of recognising the part that God plays as we are being sent to serve.  She outlined the elements of the workshop as:

  • Learning project language
  • The move from charity, needs-based approach to a rights-base approach
  • Explore the wholistic approach to mission
  • Determining which way to go

In the session on project language, Hedwig introduced the concepts of input, output, outcomes and impact.  For some of the group, this was like learning a new language and some found it challenging to understand the differences in each of the concepts.

Later in the day, Hedwig showed how the traditional charity model of aid developed through a needs-based approach to an empowerment model until we now are stressing a rights-based development strategy.

The day concluded with a good discussion on the various elements of the various models of development.

Final Integration Day

 

Today, the Brothers have gone to spend the day in reflecting on what they have learnt over the past three months, and how the learnings have impacted on their lives.  This is a significant moment for them as they seek to integrate the various insights and learnings that have occurred over the twelve weeks of the programme.  One of the passages that were offered to them was the following:

When you are confronted by evidence that the faith in which you were brought up no longer provides an adequate explanation for the nature, meaning and purpose of your life, you have three choices. You can refuse to accept the evidence and continue as before. You can abandon the faith you grew up with because it has proved to be inadequate. Or, third, you can accept the new knowledge and use it to develop a more mature understanding of what lies at the core of your beliefs. The first response is intellectually dishonest. The second is intellectual laziness. The third is a stance of critical acceptance, leading to a reinterpretation of core concepts. . . .  It requires courage and a plethora (multitude) of other virtues that have been gathering dust in your spirit. Every advance in understanding invites us into a deeper faith.
(John Feehan, The Singing Heart of the World, 2012, 148)

The hope is that the Brothers have the courage to accept the new knowledge and use it to develop a more mature understanding for their future lives.

The Transformation on Conflict

 

Andrew began the final day of the workshop on Conflict Transformation by stressing that we need to view conflict through multiple lenses.  Figuratively, he said we need to view conflict through a window and not at a mirror.  This means that we seize the window of opportunity where we change the way we operate so that the outcome is different.

He explained that when something in the past is affecting us in the present, we often are suffering.  This is also true of events in the future where the anxiety of what might happen causes us to suffer in the present. Hence, the challenge to live in the present.

Often the waters of conflict are muddied by our emotions, and the challenge is to allow the mud to settle so that we see clearly!  As we begin to see more clearly, we can understand how we have contributed to the conflict and/or we can see how the other person was not fully aware of what they were doing.

So, in conflict transformation we can learn to use the various styles that Kilmann devised: competitive, avoidance, compromise, accommodation and the collaborative style, this latter being the most satisfactory in transforming conflict.

To achieve transformation we need to discover the ‘third eye’ where we move even beyond the win-win situation and beyond the differences to respond to both parties’ needs.

In moving towards transformation, therefore, we need to have a wider perspective  where we see the big picture.  In doing this, we realise that there is no real conflict but simply misunderstandings that can be dealt with as we begin to know ourselves, others and increase our mindfulness of each situation and person.

The Impact of Conflict

Andrew continued his workshop on conflict transformation by stressing that the fundamental way to prevent conflict is by mastering oneself and knowing the other person as well as knowing oneself.  He said that the journey to transformation involves unravelling the actors, the structures and the culture.  If we can do this, we are on the road to transformation.

If we cannot do this, the cost of conflict impacts on productivity, relationships and health. In fact, 85% of all careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional incompetence which leads to conflict.

Andrew distinguished between healthy conflict that leads to change and unhealthy conflict that leads to an absence of trust, a fear of conflict, a lack of commitment, an avoidance of accountability and a certain inattention to results (cf the work of Patrick Lencioni).

Part of the cause of conflict lies in the differences of personality, and Andrew classified various personalities along the lines of the four elements of earth, air, water and fire, showing how each of them relates to the task in hand and the relationships that are created in the process.

Later, Andrew stressed that the dangers of avoiding obvious conflict resulted in the following outcomes:

  • Necessary changes aren’t made
  • Small problems grow bigger
  • Discontent builds up
  • Resentment grows.

He explained that conflict begins as a result of how we respond to differences that manifest, and then drew up a chart that showed how these differences lead to an escalation of conflict leading to the destruction of the other and ultimately of the self.

Conflict Transformation

Today began a three-day workshop on managing conflict.  Mr Andrew Otsieno is the presenter, a person who has vast experience in this field, working with the business community as well as with religious.   Instead of using the term ‘managing conflict’, Andrew preferred to use the term conflict transformation, and explained that conflict is normal and the challenge is to work towards transforming it when it proves to be potentially unhealthy.

Andrew explained the connection between stress and conflict, showing that the stress is the result of the way we view the situation of conflict.   He presented the iceberg model of conflict to explain how very often the issues that are causing the stress are only symptoms of some deeper issues that may be either unspoken or out of awareness.

He showed that conflicts arise from the differences of individual needs, values, motivations and/or perceptions.

Finally, Andrew charted the dynamic of conflict by outlining the spiral of experiences, leading to feelings, on to behaviours, and ending with reactions.  He gave the example from the Bible where Joseph became the focus of conflict with his brothers who sold him into slavery out of jealousy.