Connect, Collobaorate, Celeberate: South Asian Common House Gathering


Monday, 16th April 2018

We begin this gathering praying to Lord Jesus to help us “to live one day at a time”.

Then the DNC scholastics in an innovative way helped us to connect with one another through songs and we ended up singing “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” in a symphony of various languages of our Provinces – a symbolic gesture of “unity in diversity”.

Father POSA highlighted about 16 Key Moments of SA Assistancy and the house added 5 more moments which are nothing but the Graced Moments in our life as a Corporate Body.

In the concluding prayer we asked the Lord “to shepherd us” through the days to come. I am sure you will agree with me that the Lord has answered our prayer.

Tuesday, 17th April 2018

After the prayer by Jagdish, George Cordeiro and Dinesh Braganza introduced the theme for the day: Connect through Inner Journey. To facilitate the process of our sharing, Fr. POSA familiarized us with the method of Spiritual Conversation.

After personal prayer, we met in 8 different groups and shared about our interior movements. The three level sharing was a helix like winding staircase that took us down to our depths where we felt connected.

I will summarize the outcome of our sharing in three points:

  1. We became aware of the various moments of our life and many of us were overwhelmed by the present socio-political situation in India today.
  2. These elicited at one level “normal” “human” responses of disturbance, fear, anxiety, worry, helplessness, anger, questioning, confusion etc.
  3. At a deeper level all of us shared our consolations: despite the dark and difficult moments we have always experienced the mysterious guiding Hand of the Lord, filling us with a deep sense of gratitude on the one hand, and with strong hope and courage as we face the future.

After this George Cordeiro did something beautiful: He asked us to consider, “What is God calling us to do today?”  It was in the same tone in which Adolfo Nicolas had called us to reflect as he convoked the GC 36: “What is Christ, the Eternal King calling us to do today?”

Our responses could be summarized as follows: God is inviting us to move out of our comfort zone and take up the challenges, collaborate and net-work with others, move beyond hopelessness and make a qualitative difference to the situation in India with a pro-active attitude.

The film (The Ultimate Gift) in the evening brought home the message that challenges in life are ultimately gifts from God to recognize and activate the God given strengths and resources.

JossieD’Mello’s scholarly input helped us to understand “inner journey” as the heart of Ignatian spirituality. Combining Aloysius Pieris’ Four Types of Religious and Margaret Silf’s Three Levels of Self (Where am I? How am I? and Who am I?) he presented the evolution of Ignatius as a “people oriented introspectionist”to such an extent that Ignatius would see as God would see, that is from the perspective of “who I am” – “another man with another mind”.

Connecting Jossie’s input andBhausaheb’s homily I see Ignatius utilizing “mirror neurons” in his contemplation of the Johnine Jesus and becoming like Jesus.  [Here I am taking a certain liberty in interpreting Jn. 14.6: “’I AM’ is the truth, way and life”.]

Francis Gonsalves summed up the process of the day in terms of A to F of Connecting.

The concluding prayer for the day, conducted by SatyaNilayam community, concentrated on the threefold connection in terms of

Connecting High = stewardship

Connecting Wide = solidarity

Connecting Deep = spirituality


Wednesday, 18th April, 2018

After connecting collaboration should be obvious and easy. After a brief opening prayer by Tom Katathara, Mike Thanaraj introduced the theme of the day in terms of (what I would like to call) “Technology of Collaboration”. Based on the Positive Psychology of Martin Seligman, Mike presented the building materials for collaboration

PERMA analysis

Signature strengths

Core Competencies of a team/organization

Strength based organizations

Secretes of Team Work

Enabling conditions for Collaboration


After personal prayer we followed the same three-level sharing method of Spiritual Conversation in our respective communities. Then we worked on the “Strengths to Collaboration Matrix” worksheet. It was an excellent exercise in articulating the four enabling conditions (Compelling Direction, Strong Structure, Supportive Context and Shared Mindset) that already exist in our attempts to collaborate with others.  The idea of the exercise, I guess, was to acknowledge the positive strengths we already have manifested in collaborating and to build on them and enhance them.

This model, I am sure, will be a great help when we undertake new ventures in collaboration in the future.


William Sequeira, in his homily during the Eucharist, highlighted the spirituality of collaboration in terms of “humility”. He elaborated on the Pauline text of Phil 2.1-11 that the “hallowness”(the sacredness) of our communities (which is the manifestation of collaboration with one another) depends on the “hollowness” (the emptying) of our ego.


The film (Coach Carter) in the evening was a visual poetry on the tenacity and character of a man who was committed to build up a team and their wellbeing.


If the morning session helped to articulate our strengths to collaborate, the evening session moderated by Edward, in the spirit of Magis, enabled us to voice our concerns to take collaboration to further depths.  The scope of the session was not so much to solve all the problems within a matter of an hour, but to become aware of them as a body and to commit to address them as a body eventually.

DenzilFernandes, besides summing up the proceedings of the day, volunteered to present some features of the Culture of Collaboration – sharing, discipline, action-reflection process, common goal/purpose, mutual respect and mutual interest etc.

In the context of Denzil’s sharing I like to highlight a point that was expressed during the course of the day that the formation of religious men and women in general and of Jesuits in particular does not prepare for collaboration.  Therefore the one challenge before this august body which deals predominantly with formation is to integrate excellence with humility – to focus on the Glory of God rather than personal glory.

The evening prayer conducted by the community of ISI and VJ Delhi focussed on the theme of collaboration with inspiring texts from the recent GC 36.

Thursday, 19th April, 2018

Connection led to collaboration and collaboration must lead to celebration. As one member of the group (Tom Venad) had defined celebration is not so much partying, fun and frolic but giving expression to the vitality and vibrancy of life.  And that is the consequence of synergythat results from collaboration, in fact, another word for collaboration. 

Now the question may arise as to what guidelines have to do with celebration.  I hope it may not sound too much of a contrived exegesis if I cite the text from Dt 30.15-20 where Moses shows the connection between (celebration of) life and law.


Keith refreshed our memories of what we had read already from the hard copy of the guidelines which were given to us right at the beginning of our gathering, for our reflection and prayer.  As usual, after personal prayer we followed the method of three level sharing. And in the plenary session Raj Irudaya after clarification helped to consolidate the guidelines.


The overall reception of the guidelines has been positive appreciation and a sense of ownership.  And in the spirit of Magis valuable suggestions have been made to make the guidelines even more demanding and challenging so as to make us men of the Third Degree of Humility.

I cannot leave out the three evening Table Fellowship we shared here at PG Block, at DNC and at Papal Seminary during which we gave concrete expression to the Connection, Collaboration and Celebration.

All in all the three day program was well planned, excellently executed, marvellously participated and now as we enjoy the fruits of these three days of deliberations our hearts are filled with deep gratitude first to the Lord, then to the organizers and MCs and to one another as Friends in the Lord.

Let us keep our interior journey going which will enable us to remain connected which in turn will enhance our collaboration among ourselves built on our significant strengths which will lead to the celebration of our life as a corporate body aided by the inspiring and challenging guidelines.

The Three days of deliberations concluded with the Thanks Giving Holy Eucharist Offered by Fr. George Pattery SJ (POSA).

By M. I RAJ, S.J. (GUJ)

(For photos go to the gallery)