Each Monday during our Lenten “Walking in Solidarity” series we look at how Franciscan Mission Service is striving to live out the theme for the week.
This week’s theme is solidarity through education and formation.
“Teaching” solidarity is at the very core of Franciscan Mission Service’s work. We have two programs in particular that embody the importance of spreading solidarity through education and formation.
1. Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips
On our newly-launched, 10-day trips to Kenya, South Africa and Bolivia, participants have a unique opportunity to learn about how our brothers and sisters live in different parts of the world. The trips center mostly around issues of poverty and equality. Participants grow in understanding and awareness by spending time with locals.
|Visiting in Subukia, Kenya|
For instance, in the Rift Valley of Kenya, participants sat with and listened to Internally Displaced Persons share stories of fleeing to government-assigned camps during the 2007 election violence. In South Africa, participants shared in a cook-out with young adults who work in the platinum mines, which for the participants put a human face on the international news stories about strikes and violence.
Our approach and philosophy for the Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trips is based on the popular education model and the “Pastoral Circle” approach of “see, reflect, act.” This model asks us to be observant, to reflect and ask questions as we face puzzling and new realities, and then to consider how this new information will impact our behavior.
Group learning, prayer and reflection allow for discussion, debriefing and processing. Participants think critically of their experiences abroad in order to better appreciate God’s work and to better discern their responsibility as Christians in building the kingdom of God on earth.
In addition to the education received on the trip, participants are given informational resources prior to departure. While the eReader provides links to online articles about culture, politics, religion and the economy, the recommended reading list suggests books, scholarly pieces and multimedia such as films that can help educate participants about the people whose country they will be visiting.
2. Missioner Training
For more than 20 years, FMS has been training and supporting missioners so that they serve others in a way that is respectful and honoring of cultural, religious and personal differences.The three-month formation program takes place in Washington, D.C. each year and runs from late August to early December.
Although no formation program could fully prepare anyone for every aspect of life oversees, FMS’ comprehensive curriculum is designed to expose missioners-in-training to a wide variety of relevant topics and practical concerns so they can develop the necessary tools for life and ministry while on mission.There is a major emphasis on going to live with, serve alongside and walk in solidarity with the poor and oppressed abroad.
Here are just a few highlights of three-month formation that relate to teaching missioners-in-training about solidarity:
- A workshop examining power and privilege, especially as it relates to service
- A seminar on social analysis
- Simple living according to the Franciscan tradition
- Franciscan justice, peace and integrity of creation
- The Franciscan charism of community building
- A seminar on the theology of cross-cultural living
- A three-part seminar on cross cultural realities
- A seminar on moral responsibility
- Weekly ministry, often at a homeless shelter
Continue to walk with us in solidarity through education and formation. Wednesday we’ll provide tips and resources, and Friday, Anna Robinson will talk about what she learned on her recent Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trip to South Africa.