Sunday, February 17, 2013
Teaching in Stroud, Australia
For the last month I have been teaching with Brothers Alfred BoonKong, Bruce-Paul and Christopher John at a Spirituality Program SSF offers brothers, historically brothers from the Solomon Islands (SI) and brothers from Papua New Guinea (PNG). This year we opened it up to include brothers from the Province of the Divine Compassion: Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka--the province is called the Province of the Divine Compassion (PDC). One of the brothers from Korea (Cyril) was able to be with us for a month of the program, but he has already gone home, and Christopher John has gone back to school in Dunedin, New Zealand (where he is getting a doctorate). In addition to learning about the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, we studied the SSF Principles, the spirituality of Francis and Clare, the Psalms and the Daily Office SSF. The brothers from The Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have been away from home since the end of November. We all go back to our home provinces this week (I go to the Solomon Islands, my home-away-from-home). Above you see us in our "classroom" the beautiful friary common room. Like most of the buildings at Stroud it is made of handmade adobe mud bricks.
It has been a fabulous time. Whenever you add 4 extra brothers to a small friary, it can be a challenge. But the home team has been incredibly gracious and we all felt totally at home. In addition to studies we have done lots of projects around the friary: cutting grass mostly, but also cutting trees, planting trees, pulling weeds, caring for the vegetable garden, and (my favorite) scrambling down into the water tanks to clean out the muck. Cool business on some ferociously hot days. Cooking was a daily challenge and eating together a daily consolation. A couple of times I was accompanied on a run by a brother, too. Others went to the local pool. All in all, it was a healthy balance of body, mind and spirit.
Sunday we decided to celebrate the completion of the course, and Brother Simone's birthday with a meal out, at an all-you-can-eat restaurant. Here we are, stuffed and happy. From left to right, home province noted after our names: Simone (PDC), Luke Manitara (SI), Alfred BoonKong (PDC), Matthew Sikiboki (SI), Clark Berge (USA), Bruce-Paul (PDC) and Wilbert Bamemba (PNG).