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The Advanced Skills Training (AST) program is underway and in a different place from the Orientation Program. In preparation, Sunil and Francis moved across Shillong to the new venue, the Mary Mazzarello Centre, to be warmly welcomed by Salesian Sisters Gemima and Happyline. The beautiful new centre was opened within the last year.
The eighteen AST participants were expected all day Saturday 12th August to arrive from Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. But the very heavy monsoon rains had caused severe flooding and landslides as well undermining trees so the whole group was delayed. By evening everyone had safely arrived in their new home.
On the Monday, we spend time connecting together as a group. The participants did a check-in with their community groups in the first session. In the second session, the brothers revisited the ten Standards of Presence. Looking forward at the eight weeks of the AST, the brothers named before the group areas of their personal growth. In the afternoon session, the design of the program was explained to the group.
On Tuesday and Wednesday the brothers participated in a workshop named “The Mission approach of Journeying Together” facilitated by Francis Hall. An excerpt from a challenging film, “Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New World View”, highlighted the massive changes going on in our world which is the broader context for OWITF and Journeying Together. Using the analogy of the change from chrysalis to butterfly the film posed the question: “do you want to cling on to being a chrysalis or risk becoming a butterfly?”
The group then explored the key Congregation mission document (2015): “the Strategic Development Framework of the Edmund Rice Mission to 2020”. This was followed by watching a film (2015): “Maisha – a New Life Outside the Mines’. It tells the story of three Good Shepherd Sisters who started a project in the Kolwezi area of DRC Congo in response to the poverty and tragic lifestyles of families working in residual mining spoils. It is a powerful story of how a Congregation’s charism can find new pathways in answer to crying needs of our world. The presence of the Sisters was a catalyst for a massive change in the lives of the families, especially the women and children.
Two other documents were explored: Journeying Together A strategy for Transformation and a Handbook on Community Engagement for Journeying Together. The latter book gathers essential information for anyone wishing to learn about community engagement.
Tuesday was not only India Independence Day and the feast of the Assumption but also the last night for two participants who are returning to Kenya for personal reasons. Their presence has already been missed but the Brothers from East Africa look forward to reconnecting with them later in the year.
The second workshop of the week was on Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection. This was expertly facilitated by Br Noel D’Sa from the Province Ministries office in Delhi. Noel led the group through an in-depth reflection on the topic born of his years of work across the schools and communities of the province. The participants wrote their own on-site protection policy for their life at the Centre, as well as looking ahead to appropriate practices once they are in their new mission communities.
You can read more about the programme at their website: