Pastoral Webinar "He sent them two by two …"
Accompaniment; walking with our colleagues
from and into the heart of our Ignatian tradition
Thursday 27 January 2022 (3 – 5 pm CET)
On January 27th Mission & Identity Formators and Pastoral Coordinators in our Primary and Secondary Schools met during the Pastoral Webinar. The theme of our meeting was that of ‘’accompaniment’’, of walking with our colleagues as we accompany them in their professional lives. Using the biblical image of Jesus sending the disciples out ahead of him as he went about his mission the webinar explored the reality of how we walk with our colleagues ‘from and into the heart of our Ignatian tradition”.
This unique virtual event brought together over 80 people from Spain, France, Malta, Belgium, Ireland, Great Britain, Portugal, Hungary and Poland.
Mission & Identity Formators and Pastoral Coordinators are the people charged with the special responsibility for formation in our schools and they are called on a daily basis to accompany staff and students in their spiritual growth. Their unique role in schools is to invite and then accompany others on their way "from" and "into" the heart of the Ignatian tradition. By deciding to accompany other people in their spiritual development they have to build a special relationship that requires a lot of sensitivity and care. The quality of this relationship depends on their own formation and on listening to the voice of the One who guides all of us.
To set the right atmosphere for the meeting, Elisabeth Clarke (Director of Ethos at Clongowes Wood College in Ireland) led us in a beautiful prayer. This was followed by two profound inputs on the nature of accompaniment by two very experienced educationalists from our Jesuit schools, Fr Carlos Carneiro SJ and Dr. John Stoer.
Fr Carlos Carneiro is a Jesuit priest from Portugal and he has dedicated many years to work at the university and in the youth ministry. He is well known as a great formator and speaker. Currently he is the Director of Colégio das Caldinhas. As he could not be with us in person for health reasons, his speech was read for us by friends from Spain: Marta Valdor, Jokiñe Miranda and Miguel Poza.
Here you can read Fr Carlos reflections:
Our second keynote speaker was Dr John Stoer. John was the first lay Head of the Jesuit school in Glasgow, St Aloysius College, and prior to that he was Head of St Joseph’s College, a Christian Brother school. He is a religious education teacher and on his retirement he did a doctorate linking Catholic theology and Catholic religious’ education. John is currently the Delegate for the British Province.
Here you can read Dr John Stoer reflections:
The most important part of the webinar was the meeting in small groups. Using the format and the dynamic of the ‘spiritual conversation’ we shared our reflections and responses to what we had heard. Despite the fact that people met in virtual groups it was clear that the participants had been touched by what they had heard and they really enjoyed meeting with one another again. The quality of the conversations in the small groups was evident from the feedback during the plenary session.
Towards the end of the meeting we turned out attention to some matters of business:
a) We talked, firstly, about a new online formation programme on Ignatian Spirituality. This joint initiative of Educate Magis and JECSE has already been piloted with two groups and it has proved to be a great success with both. Elisabeth Clark and Gellert Merza briefly explained the idea and framework of the “Four Key Practices in Ignatian Spirituality” course. This course is available on-line and we strongly recommended it to everyone involved in staff formation!
b) Brian Flannery talked about the idea of creating a Learning Community around Mission & Identityand he invited participants to express their interest in the Evaluation Forms. We are delighted to report that there was an excellent response to this proposal and we in JECSE will follow-up on this in the coming months. If anyone else would like to join our learning community - please feel free to contact us.
The webinar concluded with excited waves and smiles and a clear desire to meet as soon as possible… in person.
We would very much like to thank everybody involved in this wonderful meeting, for accompanying each other in the exploration of our Ignatian mission and for sharing your reflections on the theme after the meeting. Some of the comments afterwards included the following:
“I think that what struck me most is the emphasis on accompanying others, students and colleagues, on their journey more than the long lists of tasks we have to accomplish. The importance of doing this as a community. Another important point was that as educators we have to help our students become transformative people who are "hopefilled" keeping THE person of Jesus at the centre.”
“Deep gratitude to be part of this enriching network and to be truly accompanied and supported, which in turn inspires to accompany students and colleagues on their life & faith journeys.”
“Bravo ! Joie de faire partie de ce réseau, énergie donnée par la rencontre du groupe et ce qui s'est partagé.”
“Beaucoup de réflexions sur mon rôle d'APS auprès des autres adultes de l'établissement et sur les moyens et enjeux d'une éducation à la liberté intérieure pour nos jeunes...”
“Los educadores de las escuelas ignacianas tenemos una tarea entre manos muy importante y debemos ser conscientes de ello. Ésta no consiste solamente en transmitir unos conocimientos o una profesión, sinó que va más allà. Y que debemos hacerlo con confianza, teniendo fe, dejándonos a su vez transformar y acompañando a nuestros alumnos pero también acompañándonos entre nosotros, con un acompañamiento de calidad. En esta misión no estamos solos ni espiritual ni personalmente. Este acompañamiento es al que debemos dar prioridad. Aplicar el evangelio a nuestro día a día en las las relaciones, en el aula, siendo conscientes de la inmensa capacidad transformadora que tiene. Una reflexión o pensamiento que deseo expresar es que es vital que para poder llevar a cabo nuestra misión, este mensaje llegue a toda la comunidad educativa, que se trabaje y que, des de las direcciones generales y de las direcciones de etapa, se transmita y se le de ese papel principal, se priorice por delante de la transmisión de conocimientos, creando, ofreciendo más espacios o quizás espacios de más calidad, para propiciar, facilitar ese acompañamiento de calidad a los alumnos y a los docentes. Es clave que los educadores vivan, en primera persona, este acompañamiento, esta transformación, para poderla a su vez transmitir allá donde vayan (a sus alumnos, otros educadores, en la sociedad en general).”