On Tuesday 12th October, Columban co-workers, ordained, volunteers and Lay Missionaries came together and participated in a day-long conference on the theme ‘Caring for Ourselves and Each Other’ which aimed to promote happiness, wellbeing and unity. The day was facilitated by Act Build Change, a national organising school specialising in delivering training to groups and organisations involved in campaigning.
The day started with an opening prayer arranged by the lay missionaries in which we reflected together on the challenges facing us as a result of the pandemic and the current climate crisis. We prayed that our communities may be places where we welcome, nurture, encourage and include one another, and in which we do not tolerate stigma and prejudice. The group was then invited to participate in an exercise in which each of us shared experiences around the concepts of name, home and ancestry. As we entered into each other’s ‘sacred ground’, each participant shared with openness and generosity. At the end of this session, there was a general sense of gratitude as we felt we were invited to welcome and to be welcomed in a hospitable atmosphere.
The facilitator then invited us to reflect of what is called the ‘Noble Purpose’ paradox, presenting us with the question ‘why is that the more compelling the mission, the trickier it can be to get the best collaborative behaviours and the necessary focused action?’
In the afternoon session we were again invited to share about potential initiatives and activities which could enhance our sense of wellbeing. We were reminded that little acts of self-care could make a big difference to our mental health and help us focus more fully and effectively on our ‘mission’. A discussion then ensued regarding the challenges of striking a necessary balance between personal and community/family care.
The day ended with the celebration of the Eucharist on the feast of Teresa de Avila, the great reformer of XVI century, presided by Pat O’Beirne. Personally, the highlight of the day was the opportunity to come back together as a multicultural, ‘multi-experienced ‘community, as women and men of faith who are called to pray, share and celebrate life and communion at a critical time.