On the Second day of the meeting, the group shared on their experiences of initial insertion into their places of Mission. In the sharing, it was clear that inserting oneself into a local milieu is not always easy as one encounters new confreres, cultural shocks, new languages, and in some situations new climate, among others. The experiences of the members during stage was found to be very instrumental in enabling them to adapt to their new places of mission. The challenges of inserting themselves into their places of mission pushed them to grow and become active participants in shaping their communities and places of pastoral assignment. The arrival of these new members in each of their communities, places of mission have brought in new energy, ideas and dynamics.
As if by God’s providence, all the confreres got invited in the evening to a Muslim family to join them in breaking their Ramadan fast. This gesture granted the confreres an opportunity to experience the generosity and hospitality of their Muslim brothers and sisters. During the meals which brought together at least four Muslim families, there were different discussions and sharing about what both Christianity and Islam has in common, and also the challenge of some extremists disfiguring the picture that many people have of Islam.
On the third day they reflected on Collaborative Ministry with the help of Fr. Peter Joseph Cassidy (PJ) who works in St. Thomas Parish, Lenasia. At the beginning of PJ’s input he shared about his experience in South Africa as a Stagiaire, his experience of collaborating with ministers of other religions as well as his joys of being a Missionary of Africa.
He insisted that joy and pain are part of our life and no matter which of the two that one is experiencing, there is a need to share with others, and where necessary to seek for help. On the same point of Collaborative Ministry, PJ reminded the group that Mission has to be centered on God, adding that ‘in Collaborative Ministry we have to encounter both Mission and Values.’ He compared this ministry to the different parts of the body making use of the letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (Cor12:12-31). He insisted that Collaborative Ministry is about ‘working together and building the Kingdom of God together.’ From the above reading, the group members shared some three lessons which included: the uniqueness of the different parts of the body, the need to appreciate each other and pay attention to the needs of one another. And finally, the fact that despite the importance of each part of the body, some of the parts may feel that they are not visible or appreciated.
PJ highlighted the importance of building bridges in life instead of building walls. He also emphasized the importance of taking up new challenges and putting our gifts into use.
He also introduced the idea of supervision as a tool to help us pay attention to our emotional, physical and psychological realities. In order to collaborate with others, he advised, ‘you need to collaborate with yourself.’
After sharing about their experiences of love at different levels, PJ invited the members to imagine what would have happened, if the same kind of energy they get through love was transferred onto the ministry. He invited all the members to approach the ministry with the same kind of energy which they get through love.
Lastly, PJ talked about Safeguarding Children and ensuring that in our ministry children are protected, loved and cared for. ‘We also need to pay attention to ensure that children are not abused around us.’ He also shared his experience about working on child abuse cases and other sensitive issues so as to encourage the confreres to pay attention to them and put in place measures to protect children in our places of apostolate.
In the afternoon of the third day, the group together with Fr. Paul and Fr. Peter Joseph, visited some historical places including, Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Hector Peterson memorial and our confreres working in Lenasia Parish.
At Regina Mundi the group was told the story of how some bullets were shot into the Church building. Some of the holes on the roof of the Church building were still visible. At the back of the Church, one could find different pictures, messages and even signatures about the Soweto uprising and the struggle against the Apartheid regime. The group driving past the residence of the late Dr. Nelson Mandela found a lot of visitors who had come to visit the house.
When the members arrived at one of the outstations of Lenasia parish, they were shocked to find that the motor which automatically opened the gate of the Church compound had been stolen the previous night. From there the group continued to Lenasia Community, where they were warmly welcomed by Fr. Mathieu Van Vlierden and Fr. Raymond McQuarrie. There they had a lovely chat together.