Collaboration As Reality
In the July English Bulletin, our Pastor Fr Hanafusa wrote on “Grappling with a New Collaborative Effort.” It was deemed timely, as it happens to be at the core of the Mission 2030 Theme for 2020, A NEW COLLABORATIVE COMMUNITY. He said, “…there are large hurdles, but our present difficult situation challenges us all to work harder to figure things out.” He said that he too will continue to seek answers, but he wants to gather wisdom from all parishioners as well. “I am welcoming interesting ideas or practices,” he said.
Fr Hanafusa’s article prompted the Coordinators of the John de Britto English Center to look back at the past two years of their “Collaborative Effort.” Here we share with you some reflections and insights culled from our experience.
New Collaborative Effort
The new St. John de Britto Center Team, consisting of three Coordinators and a Director, came into being two years ago—a change from the one Coordinator structure. Zealous to concretize its mission of attending to the spiritual needs of the English-speaking community, other ministries and groups were added, reaching a total of fourteen, not to mention the catechetical classes on the sacraments and the most recent one, the Livestreaming Technical Group. Each actively serves the community in its own unique way.
“The whole parish seemed to have been overwhelmed by a lot of activities,” wrote Fr Hanafusa. The pandemic proved to be an opportunity to pause and reflect on this, during our “Stay Home.” Is it not a wake-up call to put God back into the center of our lives? The helplessness that initially gripped many hearts turned out to be a healthy helplessness because it opened our hearts to trust more in the Lord!
For us at the English Center, the pandemic became a crucial time for planning ways to reach out to the ministries and groups and, through them, to the larger community. Praying the “Six o’clock Holy Rosary” and the “Oratio Imperata” helped unite the community members, who in the beginning were at a loss on what to do. Thankfully, all have responded with enthusiasm and collaboration.
The Mass Media Group published important directives from the Archbishop and Fr Hanafusa in the English Bulletin, on the website and FB. The same group felt an urgent need for a Translation Team to help disseminate information quickly to many who are not fluent in Japanese. It also gave information for online Masses, spiritual talks, retreats, videos, movies, conferences, and online courses. For those with ample time, there is no shortage of ways to grow in faith and prayer life.
With free online classes and events, we have resumed activities we were unable to do at church. Virtual meetings were organized—catechism classes preparing children for First Communion and Confirmation, classes preparing adults for the Sacrament of Initiation. Faith formation and faith sharing groups have been meeting virtually. The St. Ignatius International Youth Ministry (SIIYM) has been offering online prayer time, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, holy rosaries, Bible classes, hangouts and other fun activities for the young. The technology has enabled them to reach out to their peers who had already gone home to their countries and to welcome new ones from various parts of the world. When Sunday Mass resumed, all took responsibility for ensuring that protocols were followed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 within the church’s premises. A Roaming Team was formed. The live-streamed Masses were fervent and beautiful. None of these could have happened without the generous collaboration of all!
The transition, however, from one coordinator to a team of three coordinators and a Director was not at all a smooth-sailing experience for all, especially among the members of the international community, as well as that of the Japanese. Why? People were initially disoriented. There were tensions and struggles. We grappled with how to make our communication smoother and more efficient. As Coordinators, the call for us was to listen, establish new relationships, and “connect” with older members. We had to respect each one’s views, understand where they are coming from, PRAY and patiently wait for hearts and minds to be opened.
Our experience working as a Team has been formative. We have learned from one another’s witnessing, as for instance how to be more patient with oneself and how to deal with others. As the workload is shared, the work becomes lighter, less stressful. For example, when one could not make it due to other commitments, it was easy for some other to pitch in to do the other’s task.
“Collaboration” comes from the Latin word collaborare, “to work jointly on an activity or project. In reality, it is easier defined than done. We always have to remind ourselves: for whom? “All this is for the greater glory of God!”
At the end of his article, Fr Hanafusa adds some encouraging words: “With faith as our foundation, we can look at the present situation positively and new roads may be found.” And so, we continue the journey—the Team (Adelfa Armentia, TA, Sr. Flor Florece, F.I., Sr. Leny Fery, FdCC) , Fr Bony James, our Director, and the many volunteers we are blessed with. Together, may we be docile to the Holy Spirit who freely weaves his way, breaks structures and mentalities and creates new life beyond what we can ever imagine! The pandemic has highlighted our “grappling” with new collaborative efforts. In this sense it has shown us a new way of how to be “Church.” May the Holy Spirit continue to make our parish a vibrant collaborative community according to his plan!
By the John de Britto Team of Coordinators