Newsletter # 1
Warm greetings from the Central Team of the Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center in Steyl!
What’s This and Who’s It for?
This AJSC Newsletter is the first of a series of news bulletins from the AJSC Team in Steyl. By means of it we wish to connect with all those who have an active interest in spiritual animation. This would include superiors and leaders and in a special way those who, either as members of the province/region team (SAT) or as occasion requires, are actively helping in spiritual animation. We wish to include too those whose ministry calls them to active involvement in animation, such as formators, the coordinators of the different area apostolates (mission secretary, communications, JPIC, Bible, etc.). Indeed, we will send the AJSC Newsletter to any Sister or confrere who is interested. Just let us know.
What’s in it?
We plan to keep you informed of the activities of the AJSC Team and of interesting activities of the SAT teams in the provinces. In this way we hope the AJSC Newsletter will be a source of mutual enrichment.
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Dear Sister, dear Confrere,
Attached is the first issue of the AJSC Newsletter. Since this is the first issue we do not yet have a complete list of email addresses of all those who would like to receive a copy. May we ask you to kindly forward the AJSC Newsletter to the members of the SAT in your province/region, to the formators, and to those who could benefit from receiving the AJSC Newsletter in English or in Spanish and please send us the e-mail addresses of those who wish to receive it in the future.
Thank you for your cooperation. We hope you enjoy the Newsletter.
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Contents of this Issue:
The Arnold Janssen Spirituality Center (AJSC) was established in 1990 to be at the service of our three Congregations in the area of spiritual animation. There were seven members: 3 SSpS, 3 SVD, and one Adoration Sister as liaison.
Spiritual animation must be considered as a priority and a key responsibility of the provincial/regional and local leaders. It is also the mutual responsibility of all the members, not just the task of a small group of ‘experts‘. Yet, having a team can be a great help to the provincial to keep the fire burning. So from the start a major task of the AJSC has been to promote and prepare a group of Sisters and confreres in each province to assist the provincial in this important aspect of the life of the province/ region. At first these teams were called ETs (Extended Teams). But, as this tended to give the impression that they were responsible to the Central Team in Steyl, we now call these province teams SATs (Spiritual Animation Team).
“We understand spiritual animation as fostering in the light of the Word and docility to the Spirit:
Growth as persons in discipleship in mission.
Deeper awareness of one’s God-experience, especially in frontier situations and building community by sharing this experience.
Ongoing reflection / formation at personal and
(from a meeting of the SVD General Council and the AJSC Team)
a one month program to prepare new members for the SATs, and as a refresher course for the more experienced SAT members;
seminars and workshops on topics such as: our lived spirituality today; our foundational roots; leadership in our Congregations; seminars for those in initial formation; training retreat companions or guides; community living, and so on.
guiding Thirty-Day Retreats; the annual retreats (both guided and preached); contemplative retreats.
the “Steyl experience” for both the SVD and SSpS Renewal Courses.
During the past twelve months four members have left for work in other provinces: Sr. Carol Welp to the USA Province, Sr. Maria Virginia Gette to Argentina North, Cyprian Setyawan to the Java Province, and Tony Pates to be director of the SVD Renewal Courses in Nemi. Tony was one of the pioneering Team when the AJSC began in 1990 and has contributed very much to its development. Each of the four brought a special richness to the Team, and after several years together we will miss their expertise and their friendship.
Four new members have arrived to replace them:
Simon Bata SVD from Flores in Indonesia. He has worked in pastoral ministry and formation in the minor seminary and novitiate. Simon arrived on 5 October 2004, a date significant for his new work here – the one year anniversary of the canonization of Arnold and Joseph.
Matilde Sacardo SSpS from Brazil. Beside being very involved in the SAT, Matilde worked in formation for many years in Brazil and for four years in Angola. Already in April 2003 she went with Tony to guide the 30-Day Retreat for the participants in the SSpS International Formators’ Course in the Philippines. Matilde is currently attending a three month course in spirituality in Britain.
Michael Somers SVD, from Ireland, worked for 18 years in Ecuador as provincial superior, in pastoral ministry and as formator. Michael arrived in Steyl in 2002 and has already gone for programs in Mexico, Cuba, Chile, Botswana and Zambia.
Emmie Vas SSpS, from Mangalore, India, worked for 13 years in Mexico in pastoral ministry and formation. This month she will go to Nemi for the retreats in the Renewal Course and the Dei Verbum Course.
Emmie, Matilde and Simon had great difficulty obtaining their entry visa for the Netherlands.
Serving as a bridge for continuity between the former Team and the new are Franziska and Peter – they are also the co-directors of the AJSC.
Franziska Carolina Rehbein SSpS, from Germany, worked for 28 years in Brazil, then a term as general councillor in Rome before joining the Team in Steyl in 1996. She has written several books in Steyl in the line of our spirituality. More information about them in our next issue.
Peter McHugh SVD, from England, was four years in the Philippines, then secretary for formation at the SVD generalate in Rome before joining the Team in Steyl in 1996.
On 29 January 2004, at the request of the AJSC Team, Sr. Agada and Fr. Pernia jointly sent a Questionnaire to all SVD and SSpS provinces and regions, asking for their feedback concerning the activities of the AJSC and suggestions for its future direction. Twenty-seven SSpS and thirty-four SVD provinces/regions replied. We also received thirteen individual responses and eighteen group responses. We are very grateful to all those who sent a response. Your comments have been helpful and this report is to say Thank you for your help.
A few responses questioned the usefulness of the AJSC. But the large majority appreciate its work and its contribution to spiritual animation over the years, and are in favor of a central AJSC Team based in Steyl.
Question 1. In what specific ways do you foresee that the AJSC Team can be of help spiritual animation in your province/region?
Closer contact by the AJSC, e.g. through a newsletter.
Materials, module making, e-mail and internet.
Offer programs (retreats, workshops, preparing retreat guides).
Focus specific groups: SATs, formators, formandi, leadership teams, retreat guides, the elderly.
Building and follow-up of SAT teams.
Integrating the missionary dimension in our spirituality. Also areas such as justice and peace, women, ecology, holistic spirituality.
Updating and adapting our spirituality to our time and to the local situations.
Question 2: Concrete suggestions for themes and for the dynamics of AJSC programs
Method and Approach:
the need to contextualize our spirituality;
need to be guided by focal needs of the zone;
more collaboration with the coordinators (JPIC, etc.);
integration of laity in the coordinating team as also in the audience.
JPIC issues, including the role of women, ecology;
help for the older age group;
the human spiritual dimension;
international (intercultural) community living;
spirituality of leadership;
spirituality of dialogue;
mission as contemplation; prayer in active life;
formation of formators.
Issues that can be Themes but also serve as over-all guiding principles:
our Trinitarian missionary spirituality;
formation as holistic;
refounding religious life;
the last General Chapters.
Finance. + Most provinces find financing a program a real difficulty. Yet we need to invest in animation. Later on we often spend far more trying to solve personal problems.
Language. The AJSC has facilitated programs in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian and Bahasa Indonesia. But language is a problem for those countries where members do not generally use any of these languages.
Other difficulties: (mentioned less often)
Other opportunities for ongoing formation; for some such programs are more attractive than our own spirituality. How to make attractive to the members our spirituality?
Prejudices and lack of credibility in the members of the SAT.
Use of internet, mass media, newsletter, information
Supporting and empowering the SATs
Materials, e.g. guide book for retreats
Yearly recollection modules
Contextualized spirituality; to know the reality of the province or the zone
Have zonal or sub-zonal teams
Provincial councils need to decide to have a SAT on the general province team and prepare people for that
Every province should have a SAT
The Team discussed the above comments and we have decided to try to follow them up in various ways:
Most of the responses want a central Team based in Steyl. The possibility of having zonal/continental teams still requires further development. The more immediate desire is to do more to support the SATs.
This AJSC Newsletter is a concrete step in this direction.
We are planning to make available via internet materials which SAT members and others could consult and use for their own programs, such as recollection days, conferences, and so on. These would be in outline form rather than ready-to-use materials; they will have to be reworked within the local context. No spoon feeding!
In our AJSC planning session in December we will see how to go about creating fresh, new programs.
We are following up various suggestions as to how to face the difficulty of many provinces to finance ongoing formation programs.
The frequently mentioned need to get lay people involved in our ongoing formation is important and needs to be followed up both by the AJSC and the SATs.
Sr. Fidelis Goebbel SSpS reports that the SAT had decided to have a biblical topic for this year’s SVD-SSpS Gathering in Taiwan (June 21-23). So she teamed up with Pascal Bako SVD, the biblical coordinator, to plan the seminar on “Present-day Taiwan Society in the Light of the Bible.” They invited a lay professor from Taipei University. He gave two conferences on “Different religions in Taiwan and their impact on society and our faith,” and “The reality of Dzu Chyun in Taiwan and the Bible.” Dzu Chyun refers to the different divisions that exist in any society.
In their final evaluation of the gathering the members of the SAT felt that there had not been enough time for deeper reflection on the issues raised by Prof. Kuo. For this reason the SAT decided to organize several Bible activities for the SVD and SSpS communities in the future.
In future issues of the AJSC Newsletter we wish to include reports of initiatives undertaken by other SATs. Please send us your reports either in the province newsletter, like this report from Sr. Fidelis, or as separate reports either printed, or electronic using this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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All the AJSC members wish you a grace-filled Advent Season and look forward to hearing from you.
Emmie, Franziska, Matilde, Michael, Peter and Simon.