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.


Diarmuid devoted the day to examining the parables in the Gospels.  He quoted C.H. Dodd who said: “At its simplest the parable is a metaphor or simile, drawn from nature or common life, arresting the listener by its vividness or strangeness – and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought’  He went on later to quote Sean Freyne who explained:  “Just at the point in the story line when the reader is lured into its internal logic, (the parable) takes an unexpected and unforeseen twist, and one is left wondering what the point really was.  As a pedagogic device, this unusual twist in the story line engages  the hearer’s imagination to rethink their own presuppositions and re-evaluate their notions on what the “Kingdom of God” might really be like.”  (Sean Freyne, 2014, 161)

Diarmuid then took some parables and explained them, showing that they were subversive messages that went through a process of orientation (telling the story), disorientation (where the real meaning emerges) and reorientation (where the values of the kingdom are expressed).

The Vow of Relatedness

Diarmuid continued his workshop on Religious Life and emerging spirituality by focusing on the vow for relatedness or what was traditionally called the vow of celibacy.  He compared how the vow of celibacy offered a very inadequate approach to this style of life, and how the vow of relatedness provides for a way of life that is positive and enlivening.  Below we see how he compares the two approaches to the vow: 

The Vow of Celibacy                                         The Vow for Relatedness

“The World, the flesh and the Devil”                 The essential relatedness of all life
The joy of marriage                                            New horizons for authentic loving
Sexual fulfilment                                                 Understanding human sexuality today.
All attachments to the body                                 Loving the body in a wholesome way.
Particular friendships                                          Cultivating healthy friendships
False reliance on God via prayer                         Avail of spiritual & psychological help
False attachments                                               Cultivate meaningful solitude.
Childish co-dependence                                      Adult skills to handle love and intimacy.


In the afternoon, David continued his presentation on the charism, based on the work of Diarmuid and stressed the difference between charism and ministry.

Edmund Rice Camp


Today the Brothers joined with the Karibu group to spend the day in giving the children of Kibera a fun day.  The Brothers were amazed at the energy and commitment of the volunteers – about 40 of them – in organising a day for the children.  Right from 9.00am the volunteers offered a series of imaginative and fun-filled activities to the young people who enthusiastically entered into the spirit of the Day. It was great to see the Brothers so involved in participating in the games and activities.

This work of the Karibu group takes place a number of Saturdays each month.  They are an inspiring group of Edmund Rice followers and a credit to the leaders of the group.

A Free Day!

Due to the fact that Diarmuid O Murchu could not be present today, it was decided to have a free day!  This was welcomed by all, as it gave Brothers a breathing space in a very rich programme.  So, Brothers are taking the opportunity to take care of themselves and allow some space for relaxation and reflection.  This is a very opportune moment as the Brothers will be fully engaged in an immersion experience tomorrow with the Edmund Rice Camp experience.