Small Reflection Groups
3:10 p.m. to 3:55 p.m.
Tuesday, 19 February, 2019
Tangaza University College
There were 10 Topics/Themes for the Small Reflection Groups during the Tuesday afternoon session of the symposium. This February, 2019 symposium built on the themes of the February, 2017 symposium. See Giuseppe Caramazza and Eleanor Gibson, (eds.), Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. Proceedings of the Symposium sponsored by the Institute of Youth Studies (IYS) and held at Tangaza University College in Nairobi, Kenya, February, Nairobi: Institute of Youth Studies, 2018.
Young people on the Planning Committee choose the topics/themes and tried to listen to the concerns and questions of African young people today. Each topic/themes really starts with “Young People and…” The topics/themes were also based on the priorities and recommendations in the Final Document of the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment” (October, 2018) http://www.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/en/fede-discernimento-vocazione/final-document-of-the-synod-of-bishops-on-young-people–faith-an.html?fbclid=IwAR141URAAVg-WsCc8YgCwYp_vDUHDprOwRKRfEHvtB0MPwgNh-wbT5ag0PI
This small reflection group process is part of “young people peer group small faith sharing communities.” No. 36 under the section “Friendship and Relationship Between Peers” states:
Alongside intergenerational relationships, those between contemporaries are not to be overlooked. These represent a fundamental experience of interaction and gradual emancipation from the family context of origin. Friendship and debate, often within more or less structured groups, offer the opportunity to strengthen social and relational skills in a context in which one is neither valued nor judged. [Small] Group experience is also a great resource for sharing the faith and for mutual help in witness. The young are able to guide other young people and to exercise a genuine apostolate among their friends.
The topics/themes are also contained in Pope Francis, Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation, Christ is Alive, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2019. Vatican Website, 2019. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20190325_christus-vivit.html
They relate to what the pope said about fraternal communion and social friendship. Concerning the small reflection group process No. 167 says: “As an African proverb says: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of fraternity.”
The 10 topics/themes of the Small Reflection Groups were displayed on the large screens on Monday and the participants signed up for a special group as they left the hall on Monday afternoon.
Facilitators of the Small Reflection Groups were specially chosen and had prior training in facilitation skills and group dynamic skills. They followed the following guidelines.
NOTE: It is important to use the 45 minutes as efficiently and productively as possible. This means gathering right away and starting right away.
III. Summary of Small Group Reflections
There were 14 groups centered on 10 topics/themes.
GROUP 1: ACCOMPANIMENT OF SEMINARIANS AND RELIGIOUS
Religious men and women need to be accompanied in their journey of faith and religious calling. This will enable them embrace their charisms and spiritualties so as to be living testimonies by the witness of their life. Witnessing enables us to be relevant in the modern world thus accompaniment enables one to be active in the modern world.
AREAS RELIGIOUS MEN AND WOMEN NEED TO BE ACCOMPANIED.
Factors to consider
POINTS OF CONCERN
GROUP 2: ACCOMPANIMENT OF YOUNG PEOPLE (LAYMEN AND WOMEN)
DO YOUNG PEOPLE NEED ACCOMPANIEMENT?
WHY SHOULD YOUNG PEOPLE BE ACCOMPANIED
HOW SHOULD THEY BE ACCOMPANIED/STRATEGIES
GROUP 3: DIGITAL WORLD (two groups)
IS IT POSSIBLE TO ENGAGE IN SOCIAL MEDIA IN A GOSPEL CENTERED WAY? IF SO HOW?
Social media is a channel for communication, an avenue for social interaction, and a platform used for entertainment. The platforms include: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Telegram and Penpal.
Yes. It is possible to engage in social media in a gospel way by using them as a tool for:
Authenticity of the messages/unreliable sources.
GROUP 4: CALL TO HOLINESS
GROUP 5: MIGRATION AND REFUGEES
GROUP 6: MISSIONARY DISCIPLESHIP
Missionary Disciples are the ones called, trained and sent not on their own but of Christ and it’s a continuous process of learning and sharing
Do we understand the people whom we are going to, especially the youth?
Do we really have the aggressiveness, motivation, zeal as well as the skills to bring God to the people?
GROUP 7: VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT AND DECISION MAKING
GROUP 8: SMALL FAITH-SHARING COMMUNITIES
Things that help us to stand out in faith as a Catholic:
What are Small Faith-Sharing Communities?
Importance of the Small Faith-Sharing Communities
GROUP 9: SEXUALITY AND AFFECTIVITY – THE CHURCH’S STAND (three groups)
What are some experiences and what does the church say about it
Ad Gentes – relation
Sexuality in relation to the vow of chastity and celibacy – the show of genuine and pure love for others
Bearing in mind the diverse sexual orientations in our contemporary age. There is a need to respect these people
Need to identify whom I am for example knowing that I am a man and live in that line. Lack of identification is what has brought about a lot of sexual disorientations like ageism, lesbianism, etc.
Attitudes in relation to sexuality
How can we live this out?
GROUP 10: UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY (two groups)
By Francis Njuguna and Joseph Healey, MM
To experience the actual process and content of a Small Reflection Group here is a first person account of one group:
We met in a circle on benches outside on the grounds of Tangaza near the Nuru Building. We were 19 participants – 14 men and five women (university students, seminarians, one religious sister and one priest). There were three facilitators – two young men and one young woman. We found the location quickly, gathered together and began immediately. After the Opening Prayer and Self-Introductions, the facilitator placed a plastic water bottle on the table and spun it around to determine the order of the reflections and comments. First, a man from the left side, then a woman from the right side and so on. The opening key statement was an interesting faith sharing experience: “Name some articles or objects that uniquely identify us as Catholics.” Some answers: Cross. Rosary. Sign of the Cross. Bible.
At this point the reflection group took a different turn. One participant asked for an explanation of the meaning of “Small Faith Sharing Communities.” Two facilitators clearly explained the meaning of these Young People Small Christian Communities (YPSCCs) in the context of the Small Christian Communities (SCCs) Pastoral, Ecclesial Model of Church in Eastern Africa today. Some comments: “They are the Nyumba Kumi Kumi of the Catholic Church in Kenya today.” “Small Faith-Sharing is being the church in the neighborhood.” “Small Faith-Sharing Communities help us to form a community of believers where we transform the Word of God into action and also help one another to understand it.” “Very few young people involve themselves in such communities.”
It was significant that at least 10 participants were taking notes – a sign of their seriousness and engagement. Various people added comments in the context of why SCCs are important for young people in Africa today. There were references to sharing being the heart of SCCs and young people’s need for belongingness. Almost all 19 participants gave at least one comment or question.
Janefiva Momanyi, a Catholic student at Kenyatta University stated: “At the university, we Catholic students and members of St. Dominic Small Christian Community (SCC) encourage our colleagues from other churches to join us in various SCCs activities such as Bible reading, Bible sharing and prayers. We normally question ourselves as to why we should allow our religious diversity to divide rather than unite us, while the same does not happen in learning, sports, etc.” A Catholic sister from South Sudan shared: “In my country the presence of priests in certain parts is rare. So effective community-sharing of the Gospel message is a necessary option.”
A general conclusion was that one way to empower young people to share and to participate in the Catholic Church in Africa today is to provide opportunities for these Small Faith-Sharing Communities (SFSCs) in various contexts and locations: at universities and high schools, in parishes and online.
Rev. Joseph G. Healey, MM
P.O. Box 43058
00100 Nairobi, Kenya
0723-362-993 (Safaricom, Kenya)
973-216-4997 (AT&T, USA)
WhatsApp: 1+ 973-216-4997
NOTE: This article was published in the 2019/1-2 issue of the Tangaza Journal of Theology & Mission on the theme “Catholic Church Listens to and Accompanies African Young People Today.”
 Additional information on Small Reflection Groups of young people can be found in the free, online Ebook Joseph Healey, Building the Church as Family of God: Evaluation of Small Christian Communities in Eastern Africa, https://smallchristiancommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Build_new.pdf
 It is interesting that in the February, 2019 Poll on the SCCs Website (http://www.smallchristiancommunities.org) — The best part of my Small Christian Community is… — the choice with the most votes was: “Safe place for people to share and grow.” The specific results in this Fifty Ninth Round are found at: https://smallchristiancommunities.org/democracy-archives