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18.01.2019 02:58:34 307x read.
A letter from Bro. Raphael (St. Anslem, Rome)

Dear brothers,

I send you greetings from the Institute of St. Anselm in Rome. It's been almost two weeks since I arrived here on new year day. It was a smooth journey from the airport to the institute since I already booked a taxi online. The Institute is among other buildings located in a quiet residential area just outside the centre of Rome. It is close to Ciampino airport, and so we are very much affected by the noise of the planes. The mission of the Institute of St. Anselm  is to prepare and train religious and priests in the areas of spirituality, psychology and community living. The courses here aim at developing self-awareness in participants through integrating psychology with spirituality. They stress the importance of relationships with God, self, others and the environment, and this is carried out within the context of community living, based on the model of the Blessed Trinity. This gives the opportunity to really practise and integrate a lived spirituality.

Participants are offered support in areas of spiritual renewal through community prayer, private time for reflection, group interaction and individual Growth Facilitation. Community experience is an essential element at St. Anselm’s. While here, participants are divided into small groups. There are times we have the opportunity to spent time with this group to pray, celebrate mass, have recreation and even celebrate birthdays, sometimes outside the institute. There are opportunities for interaction with the larger multicultural community of St. Anselm’s, such as at lectures, Mass, Morning and Evening Prayers, meal times and other socialising activities.

Being a part of St. Anselm’s multicultural community offers people an opportunity to appreciate and value cultures and ways of celebrating other than one's own. We experience how community can enhance personal development, and relationship building is fostered in the daily situations of praying, learning and living together within this international community. Our liturgy is enriched by the different cultural groups within the institute.

The are several courses being offered including  One-year Diploma and several certificate courses. I am offering the 12-week course: Certificate in Human Psycho spiritual Development & Community Building. Together, we are about 40 participants including religious and priests. I am the only brother on the program. Only one of these priests is diocesan; the rest are members of religious communities. As usual the sisters far outnumber the religious men. Only 14 of us are men. Participants in this group come from mainly Africa and the Asian region.  Only two of us are Ghanaian. The program is more experiential rather than offering knowledge through lectures.

The most interesting part of the course is that participants are given the opportunity to deal with their emotions. The belief about Emotional Intelligence is that we need to get rid of repressed emotions so as to be free to function well as human beings. This emotional development can only be achieved when people are able to work through their past traumas and unfinished business. Only then are we able to function well as religious and become more effective in life.  Therefore we have been put in various groups to form support systems to be able to encourage each other attain a healthy psycho-spiritual state. These groups form growth-oriented relationship groupings with the aim of listening and supporting each other in our psycho-spiritual journey. The lectures here are highly confidential. No recording of lectures or any fora here are allowed. Even taking of photographs is not permitted.   

However, I am almost two weeks old here but I must say I am not fully settled yet, even though the program has began. The structures allocated to the institute have just been renovated and as you will expect, many things are still being tried out. For instance, we only settled in our actual dining hall a few days ago because it was not yet ready. The most worrying thing is that the buildings are not sufficiently warm. We are often wearing our heavy jackets while we are inside the building. The heating system in our bed rooms is the worst part. The heating which is controlled from a central point, does not work well, and even though several of us have complained about the situation, very little has been done up to now. The current temperatures range between -4 and 5 degrees and this cannot be considered warm. So this is the situation we are in now, but we are hoping for an improvement soon or at least warmer weather conditions ahead.

We also have to adjust to new ways of living here. Participants are virtually taking care of all their personal needs here: we clean our private rooms, corridors, common halls and do our dishes all the time. We take care of our laundry needs including the washing powder. Meals are quite sufficient but we have to take care of our own snacks and drinks.

The result of all this is that there is very little for relaxation. So if you are looking for a place to relax, do not come to St. Anselm. The time from morning prayer at 07:30 till supper time at 19:10 is fully occupied with either lectures, group facilitation workshops or one-to-one support meetings. Most of the weekends are free and participants most often go to the centre of Rome for sight-seeing and recreation.

Dear brothers, St. Anselm could be a place for "HEALING" for any of you especially formators and leaders of our provinces and the congregation. You must be aware that I have only given you a picture of what St. Anselm has to offer. However, since this is just the beginning of my journey here, I cannot be sure how the result will turn out to be at the end.  SHALOM!

Bro. Raphael Besigrinee, Rome

14 January, 2019

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