Participation and Shared Responsibility in the Mission
Forty-one Sisters of the FMA Philippine Province gathered last February 23 and 24, 2016 at the Mornese Center of Spirituality in Calamba City for a formative encounter of the Provincial Council, community animators, technical center directresses, principals, and the local council members of communities with schools.
Sr. Josefina Magat, ra, a professional educator and former Provincial Superior of the Religious of the Assumption, was the resource speaker and workshop facilitator. She is also credited to have introduced to the Assumption schools in the Philippines a team management style of school leadership. She made use of the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) model to engage the Sisters in self-determined change, especially in the perspective from which the Sisters look at their mission. Although already quite familiar with AI, the Sisters were helped to understand that the journey toward change is a process that is gradual and has to be owned by all to arrive at the goals.
Together with Sr. Josefina, Mrs. Ma. Socorro Villafania co-facilitated the sessions. Mrs. Socorro's presence in the encounter is a strong witness to forging authentic partnership with lay partners in the ministry. She is parent of five past pupils, collaborator of the Salesian Sisters in the formation of catechists, and professor of Theology at Assumption College. She was also an auditor together with her husband in the Synod on the Family last October 2015 in the Vatican.
On the first day of the encounter, Sr. Josefina led the participants to a collective inquiry into their fundamental personal and vocational experiences to make them realize the best of what is in their lives as Salesian consecrated women. The Sisters enjoyed recalling and sharing in their small groups their memories of the best times in their FMA life and mission. More than the personal fundamental experience of one's first call, Sr. Josefina led the group to recall with deep gratitude the foundational experiences of the Institute. The big group sharing which followed on experiences that were meaningful in terms of relevance, impact and replicability, although many times marked with hilarity and jesting, proved to be very enriching for everyone. It felt good to hear about the many signs of God in the journey of each one, and the beauty of every stage and season of life, and most of all, the grace-filled experiences of the Province especially in its mission.
During the 2nd day, Sr. Josefina challenged the group, based on the Province experience of the mission, to plan a collective design based on what the province would start, stop and continue doing in the next five years in the different apostolates of the Province as a concrete response to the challenge posed by the 23rd General Chapter. Through the gentle but decisive guidance of Sr. Josefina, the encounter ended with the group being able to come up with suggested concrete plans of action for the specific ministries assigned to them.
The encounter proved to be so stirring that a plan to let other Sisters, especially those immersed in the different apostolates, undergo the same kind of workshop with Sr. Josefina and Mrs. Villafania is underway sometime in June 2016. The two-day encounter was indeed an opportunity for the Sisters to be reminded anew of God's constant invitation for them to carry out the mission among young people with greater audacity, zeal, and commitment, and to live collaboration and coordination with lay mission partners the way Don Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello did during their time.