This year the Jesuit Conference Asia Pacific Education secretariat offered our educators in the region two brand new workshops. The first was an IPP workshop called LEARNING BY REFRACTION, held last September at Seven Fountains Retreat Centre, Chiang Mai, Thailand; and the second one is the just-completed LEADERSHIP BY CONVERSATION at St. Ignatius College, Riverview, Australia.

The workshop brought together a total of 26 participants from Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, and the biggest contingent from Indonesia. The new workshop focused on the ministry of Ignatian conversation and weds it with Growth Coaching, using such tools as the MBTI and best practices on feedback giving.

The idea for this workshop first emerged at Kamakura, Japan, when the Riverview team was conducting the Ignatian Teachers Program. The group agreed that a module on coaching and mentoring based on the Ignatian ministry of holy conversations would respond to an important need among educators in our Asia Pacific schools, and so here we were!

The workshop was designed based on–of course!–Ignatian Pedagogy, with the components of Experience, Reflection, and Action in constant interplay as the learning spirals and deepens.

Fr Ross Jones SJ, Rector of St Aloysius and former Rector at Riverview, set the tone by talking about St Ignatius of Loyola’s ministry of holy conversation.

Ignatian conversation was the basis for the workshop’s focus on the mentoring needed in our schools. What better way to practice cura personalis than to use an approach to Growth Coaching that is based on “listening to the self, to others, to creation, and to God”?

Br. Bagus Sugiyono SJ, a first-year regent at Canisius College, Jakarta, was grateful for the theoretical and practical things he learned at the workshop: “There are several new insights that I got on how to practice cura personalis for students, as well as teachers. In this workshop, I learned a lot by listening about many experiences in various schools from several countries.”

The venue of the workshop was the beautifully located Cova Cottage on the Riverview campus. With a breathtaking scenery as a backdrop, the Cova Cottage was perfect for both conversation and contemplation.

Another bonus for the educators was the participation of the so-called “Companions” from St. Ignatius Riverview, who joined them to model what coaching based on Ignatian conversation was like. Needless to say, such a firsthand encounter with these expert practitioners proved to be a powerful learning experience.

Irene Cheung, Principal of Colégio Mateus Ricci, expressed her appreciation for skills like coaching, listening as well as such tools as the MBTI. “The feeding forward bridge,” she added, “is what I most want to master and apply.”

Chaveli Ventosa Dela Cerna of Xavier School, Philippines, described the workshop as an eye-opener because it “opened so many possibilities in the area of Faculty and Staff formation in Jesuit institutions. I still find it amazing how Ignatian Conversation was seamlessly linked to Growth Coaching and how feasible it is in our own school setting.”

No IGNITE workshop is complete without socials and games that allowed the participants to let their hair down and break the ice. Thanks to Angela of 'St. Ignatius Riverview, the games were lots of fun and just suitably challenging.

Vivian Cheng of Wah Yan College, Hong Kong called the experience wonderful and insightful, wishing that “each one of us can be a better companion to our students and colleagues!”

Four Jesuit priests concelebrated at the final Eucharistic Celebration at the beautiful Dalton Chapel: Fr. Johnny (Philippines), Fr. Koko (Indonesia), Fr. Clement (Hong Kong), and Fr. Vincent (Macau).

At the Eucharist we prayed in gratitude especially for the St. Ignatius Riverview community led by its Rector, Fr. Jack McLain SJ, and Principal, Dr. Paul Hine,who both graciously joined us for lunch to chat with the participants.

The support that Riverview has been extending to the Ignatian staff formation efforts of the Jesuit Asia Pacific Conference has been just remarkable. On behalf of JCAP, we once again thank Fr. McLain and Dr. Hine, as well as the dynamic team of facilitators, Sally, John, Angela, and Jennie. The Riverview team and its workshops have truly been making such a difference in our schools in the region.

The graces received at the workshop, like this final special Filipino banquet, were truly an embarrassment of riches.

Written by Fr. Johnny Go SJ