Two Zoom conferences took place on October 9th and 10th, organised by the Sr. Monica and the General Council as part of a formation programme for Provincials, Leaders of Delegations and members of Commissions and Work groups .
Was the theme for the 9th given by Fr. Tim Norton SVD and “Spiritual Conversation” was the theme for the 10th, directed by Fr. John Dardis S.J. Both priests are working in Rome. Ninety four RJM’s participated over the two days including those RJM’s assisting with translations. It was a great experience to connect up again and renew acquaintances across the globe and with various time zones.
Sr. Monica welcomed us each day and led us in prayer. On the 9th we had the Our Father in Swahilii sung by a youth choir with great passion. On the 10th, a youth choir sang a hymn to the Holy Spirit as they moved through the interior of a broken church. The message was not lost on us!

Fr. Tim took three themes related to Interculturality: Intercultural sensitivity, interculturality and conflict styles and interculturality and leadership styles. We tried to define culture in all its many facets and then looked at how various cultures deal with conflict. Some choose a direct logical, way; others choose a direct but emotional way of communicating their conflict. Some choose an indirect more accommodating style while others use an indirect, emotionally intense way. We filled out a questionnaire which helped us to understand our preferred way of managing conflict.
Finally we looked at Leadership and its various definitions. I liked most the one by Cheryl Sondberg:

‘Leadership is about making others better because of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.’
Fr. Tim spoke about the spiritual values underlying good leadership and the skills required especially in inter-generational communities.

Fr. John on the 10th gave us a workshop on ‘spiritual conversation’ how to make room for the Spirit in our dialogue and how to be ‘a little word of God’ as we communicate. It is a process. We begin from a point of gratitude for what God has done in our lives. We need to be active listeners and respect that each of us is an expert in our own experience. We engage in intentional conversation, taking responsibility for what we say and what we feel. We broke into groups of 6 and practiced the art of spiritual conversation. We had three rounds: Firstly each one speaks about the piece of scripture they had prepared beforehand, without comment or interruption from anyone. Round two the group shares on what struck us from the sharing. In Round 3 we try to summarise what the Spirit is saying in all that has been shared – what is common – what call are we hearing etc. We returned to the General assembly and shared a little on the experience. Fr. John asked us how we might use this method in our lives and some saw it as an effective tool for meetings when trying to reach a consensus on issues or for having an inclusive meeting where everyone gets the opportunity to share. We had two very formative days and thank you Sr. Monica and your Team for organising them.

Mary Kelly RJM