Open to All

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Identifying the Lord’s call

I remember the moments when my National Co-ordinator advised me to attend the ILT-2010 in Bangkok. The first thought or feeling that went through my mind was ‘God is calling me for something’. I didn’t have any confusion in my mind whether to attend it or not. But still I had to spend some time in prayer with my family, spiritual father and parish priest before I said the final ‘yes’. My parish priest’s permission was very critical. July 2nd to 4th was the time of the Parish feast and I was supposed to be there helping both the English and Malayalam choir with the keyboard. I had to submit the English choir into the mighty hands of the Lord and I got the permission from my parish priest. I knew I would be losing this good time of the Parish feast, the choir, cultural programmes and all. But I had to say ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call.
 
The challenge
The introductory session challenged me as Raiju, our programme co-ordinator, compared the success of this programme to the football team winning the World Cup. Yes, I couldn’t be like a fan simply enjoying the game or like the officials or like the loosing team, I needed to go back home with the trophy. That would be the success of this programme. So I started praying for it.
 
The programme as a whole
In a word I can definitely say that it was a huge success. The programme was planned very professionally, right from the first hour to the end of the 12 days (one day outing). It was a time that I got to know myself better, the paradigms in my life, shifted the paradigms with the help of the resource team and group, purified myself, prayed, built fellowship, came to know more about real leadership, learnt about priority setting and time management, understood youth ministry in depth, improved my communication skills, went into the depth of JY, learnt how to approach the Bible for scripture study, came to know in depth about using Charisms in the ministry, learnt how to build leadership around me, take commitment and know more about Stewardship.
 
The shifted paradigms
Raiju’s session about ‘Paradigm shift’ helped me to identify the paradigms in my life. I was often struggling in opening up my self to others. It was a fear of exposing my self - my weaknesses, lack of knowledge in doing things in the ministry, and my background. Because of this, I was failing to do my best. My shifted paradigm was opening up my self to all; to let them know me well, my weaknesses, background and my strengths; accepting everything, all the people from the hands of the Lord. I had to change my name to ‘Open to all’ for the rest of the programme days. During that day’s adoration, I could surrender myself and the paradigms in my life into the mighty hands of the Lord and I experienced healing in my life. Slowly I was able to communicate my feelings, ideas and thoughts in a better way. I started to become more open to the group. I hardly noticed the changes that were happening in me. But towards the end of the programme, I could easily communicate my thoughts and vision. 
 
The programme was planned in such a way that everything helped us in shifting our paradigms, especially the games, group discussions, presentations, action songs, public speaking, by leading praise & worship and prayer, by taking the day’s responsibilities, etc. The workshops were an eye-opener and gave me the confidence to do things. I came to know that nothing is impossible for me with the help of the Lord and the support of the movement.
 
The integrity
This session by Manoj Sunny was a time to look into my life as a JY leader and prepare for a good confession. I used to think that being a leader; I was doing additional things for the Lord. I didn’t know that I was called to become a saint. In this session, my thoughts, desires and actions were all questioned. There were many times, as a leader, I was living in a maintenance mode, conforming to the standards of the local system, blaming others for my failures, without growing in prayer and freedom, with wrong motive, satisfying the sensual pleasures and lacking the real love of God within me. Reflecting on these points helped me to make a good confession.
 
The true leader
Earlier for me, a leader was a positional leader. The concept of a functional leader was something new to me. The example of the leadership qualities of ‘Naaman’s slave girl’ opened my eyes. I was so challenged by Manoj Sunny’s words: “A JY leader needs all the qualities of a secular leader with a heart that seeks the will of God”. I was thinking how much I had influenced people as a leader when he said: “The true leader influences people and produces a change in society, generally for the better”.
 
The definition of a leader, the myths about leadership, functioning, management, what makes a leader, the five wrong ways in leadership and the ten laws of leadership, all had an impact on motivating me to become a true JY leader.
 
The ‘effective leadership’ session by C.C. Joseph helped me to gain a lot of knowledge. Tools and techniques used by world leaders, practices of leadership gurus, etc. were all very helpful for me to identify the various leadership models.
 
Mission of Laity – Approach to lay mission and leadership in the Catholic Church
This session by Manoj Sunny helped me to understand the rights and duties of the laity in our context. The session also helped me to understand who is a real missionary. The vocation of lay people in the participation of Christ’s priestly, prophetic and kingly office was made clearer.
 
Knowing today’s youth ministry
This was the area I was struggling most with, to know youth and youth ministry. Since most of my ministry time was spent with JY families, George Devassy’s session was a great help for me to know today’s youth and how to build a youth ministry. When he said “Youth ministry is a science, a passionate science and we need to accompany them in their faith journey”, I was thinking about the failures I have had in this area. He also said it’s like a rolling ball, rolling and rolling, learning from each other and making saints out of it. This session helped me to identify the macro and micro things concerning youth ministry and placed me as a solution in these areas. It instilled a confidence in me to help build up the youth ministry.
 
Improving communication skills
C.C. Joseph’s session about improving communication skills was a huge blessing for me. I was a very poor communicator and I was struggling in this area. The session helped me a lot to improve my communication skills and public speaking skills. The workshops helped me to gain confidence in communication. C.C’s approach in improving these skills was very systematic and professional. The types of communication, elements of communication, structure of presentation, objectives of speech, the NO’s in public speaking, stage manners, recognising the moods of a group, points for better presentation, etc. were all discussed.
 
Setting priorities and managing time
Setting priorities in the right way was a big challenge for me. But after the session by Br. Jude, I felt it was so easy to set priorities and manage time. The explanation of the two characters ‘Martha and Mary’ in Lk 10:38-42 was really a blessing as I came to know about priority setting and the right attitude we should possess. It helped me to identify my attachments in life and ministry. The tips for managing time, knowing the important and the urgent, the important and not urgent, the not important but urgent, the not important and not urgent, was very helpful. I used to fail in saying ‘No’ to many avoidable things. This session taught me how to politely say ‘No’ to avoidable things so as to manage time in a better way.
 
Knowing JY in depth
Manoj Sunny helped us all to know about JY and its ministries in a deeper way by sharing about the context, vision, focus, lifestyle, responsibility and charisms, growth of the movement and its various phases of growth. I was so challenged when he compared us to a tribe and also gave his own personal sharing.
 
Bible & Catholic apologetics and using charisms for ministering
I was so blessed to be with Fr. Fio for two days and learning from him about the history of the Bible, how to approach the Bible for study and the growth of the early Church. A lot of my doubts were cleared through Father’s simple way of explanation. After those two days, I’ve developed a strong desire and passion to study the scripture and if possible, to attend his Bible school.
 
Knowing the JY statutes deeply
Fr. Bitaju was a great help when it came to understanding the statues and the pillars of the movement in greater depth. After the sessions I was convinced never to skip my personal prayer and other pillars.
 
ILTP’10 - a great blessing 
The trainings days were a great blessing for me. It was a time of purification, strengthening, equipping myself for the coming years of my ministry, knowing the movement more deeply, building fellowship… It was a time to know each other, the life style of the senior leaders, pastors and animators, know the commitment of the senior leaders and the struggles or commitments they had taken in building the movement in its early stages. The time we spend together in games and other activities, the personal sharing, the sessions, the commitment, the passion for the Kingdom of God, were all simply amazing.
 
My sincere prayer is that all JY leaders get an opportunity to attend such trainings so that we’ll be able to minister in a more meaningful, better and effective way.

Joe Antony, Illinois, USA