Pastoral Approaches to strengthening Right Relationships at Solomon Islands
By Fr. Ambrose Pereira sdb, Rector, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Henderson. 14 priests and religious attended the week long Workshop entitled ‘Pastoral Approaches to Strengthening Right Relationships and Integrity in Ministry’ at the Dominican Friary, Henderson, Solomon Islands. The workshop commenced on the 30th July and concluded on the 3rd August 2012. Dr Elizabeth Reid, Br Paul O’Keeffe and Sr. Ailsa Mackinnon rsm were the animators and facilitators of the workshop.
The workshop opened with the Eucharistic celebration, celebrated by Archbishop Adrain Smith sm, Archbishop of Honiara. He encouraged the participants to embark on a journey essential for ministry. He had words of encouragement to the participants and invited all especially the local priests and religious to share their thoughts and feelings throughout the sessions and the discussions.
The workshop, put together for bishops, congregational leaders and Rectors of Formation to provide an avenue to discuss issues relating to pastoral approaches to strengthening right relationships. It was to assist the participants in their responsibility as they guide, mentor, minister and admonish those who have a vocation and to enable them grow as human beings while honouring the virtue of chastity. “The ultimate objective being to ensure that there is joy, fulfillment, serenity and integrity in ones vocation”, stressed Elizabeth Reid, coordinator of the workshop, who together with other facilitators has conducted other workshops in Papua New Guinea.
To assist the participants:
To better understand how, in the words of Christus Dominum, participants might guide, mentor and minister their priests, religious and seminarians towards finding joy and exercising integrity in their religious life
To strengthen the skills needed to guide, mentor, minister to and admonish those under their care, in situations of right relationships and integrity in ministry and also in their spiritual growth and human development, and
To strengthen understanding of how to work with the CBC PNG & SI guidelines on Right Relationships in Ministry and to support each other in this work.
Skills strengthened include:
Giving constructive feedback
Introspection and self-knowledge
Hearing the truth being spoken
Asking questions to stimulate thinking
Conversing on difficult issues
Handling difficult issues
Dwelling and reflecting on their own personal experience the participants were guided to reflect and strengthen ways of relating to priests, religious and those in formation. The workshop was an intense one that involved full commitment in the discussions and sharing.
“I found the workshop very beneficial for me and my work. The animators were pleasant, friendly and highly knowledgeable about the issues of Right Relationships in this part of the world. Above all, I value the skills they were able to draw out from us I order to help us in relating and dealing with people under our care. During a very full week, we as a group, put together and practiced the different ways of being a leader in our community. The multiple practice sessions were interesting, enjoyable and at times draining, but through it all we learnt from one another and strengthened each other to face typical problems and deal with issues that may arise in our work as leaders. This was indeed a valuable workshop which, I believe gave us a sense of hope and has encouraged us to expect joy, serenity and fulfillment in our lives as religious and priests” commented Fr. David Galvin sm, Superior, Marist Fathers and Brothers.
The workshop had time set aside for reflective prayer and sharing that gave space for the participants to share their inner feelings and thoughts. Case studies and challenging situations were explored from which valuable lessons were learnt. Guiding principles were presented and policies discussed. At the end of each day, a relevant movie of human interaction and positive thinking was screened at the Don Bosco Technical Institute, Audio Visual room.
“I was a reluctant beginner on the first day. However, I quickly saw this was a great and important workshop for the Church in Solomon Islands. There are difficult issues involved and we were given some key skills to help us address these. The general thrust was positive and preventive. It was an excellent and crucial workshop”, said Fr. Greg Walsh, Superior and lecturer at the Seminary.
“The workshop has taught me to be more compassionate and care for the person in need. It has been wonderful to attend this workshop as I can now assist and help the members of my congregation”, said Sr Anna Ngosana dmi, Superior of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.
“The workshop was good and I do hope it will be given to all bishops, priests, religious and seminarians and the laity. The programme should be modeled in such a way that it can be taught as a subject at the Seminary and in Religious houses” – Fr. Japhet Manebusa, professor at the Holy Name of Mary Seminary.
Sentiments of gratitude and thanks were expressed by the participants as they bid farewell to the animators. “The word ‘Thank you’ cannot suffice how grateful we are for this week of experience. Thank you for accompanying us to discover deep within us the grace of joy, peace and serenity for us to be effective in our mission”, said a smiling Sr. Cora Torollo ma, formator and teaching at the Seminary. Fr. Henry Paroi op, was thanked for the coordination and the wonderful arrangements right through the programme.
The participants are grateful to CARITAS Australia for the support received and then now return back to their communities eager to put the policies and principles into practice.
Brief biographies of the Animators:
Dr. Elizabeth Reid
Dr. Elizabeth Reid has worked extensively with the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands. She has facilitated a number of seminars on social justice and development themes for the bishops of PNG and SI, as well as for CEPAC. She has facilitated workshops for priests and religious of many of the dioceses of PNG on the HIV Pastoral Ministry. From these workshops the need to strengthen pastoral approaches to right relationships emerged as a critical issue. Elizabeth trained in philosophy, ethics and philosophical theology and works as a development worker. She is an adviser on Social Justice and Social Development to Caritas Australia.
Br. Paul O’Keeffe fsp
Brother Paul O'Keeffe fsp is currently Deputy Congregation Leader of the
Patrician Brothers and a member of his Province Leadership Team. Paul's
background is in Education and Formation and prior to returning from Papua
New Guinea in December 2010 was Novice Master in Aitape, Sandaun. He has
also been Provincial and dealt with Professional Standards issues within his
Congregation and in an educative role as a Formator.
Sister Ailsa Mackinnon rsm
Sr. Ailsa Mackinnon is the Executive Director of Mercy Works Australia. She is also the Vicar for Religious in the Diocese of Parramatta. Her experience in the area of Professional Standards has been to deal sensitively with matters within her Congregation as they have arisen and to give advice to others who may have experienced difficulties. She was previously the Leader of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta.