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By Fr. Shoji, SDB

PGS Vice-province, 28 November 2020 -- "At the outset I would like to place on record my profound gratitude to my PGS vice province for sending me to attend this particular Siloam programme at Heart of Life in Melbourne, Australia. It was the idea of Fr. Alfred Maravilla who proposed this to me and I am privileged to have this unique and rich experience. Indeed I was not very keen to go for this course since there needed much preparation like getting a visa and IELTS exams etc. But I took it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow, believing that to be the will of God.

Initially, I had no idea what it really meant for me in the pool of Siloam. The only thing, I was holding on to my trust that God would somehow reveal it to me in due time hoping that one day the puzzle would fall into the right place. And it is such a blessing to have a clear understanding of it towards the end of the Siloam program.

The Siloam programme is meant only for seven participants.I was happy to have interactions with a mixed group of religious and laity. At the the beginning we were asked to finalize our personal and ministry call goal based on the Gospels of Mathew 3: 13-17, and Luke 4. These two scriptural passages set the foundation for our entire Siloam journey. It remindedme of our Rector Major’s invitation to all Salesians to have our personal plan of life.

The program consists of seminars and assignments on Grace and Conversion, Discernment, Religious Experience, Human Experience of God, Ecological Spirituality, Spirituality of Human life Stages A+B, Professional Standards in Ministry together with seminars Verbatim for individual and group supervision. Case studies and 20 hours of spiritual directions are unique to this course. I was fortunate to get the directees from Zambia,China and Vietnam thus to have an international flavor to the experience. Moreover during four weekends we did have prayer and reflection directing a retreat in daily life, and a five day directed retreat and participation in Tutorials and Communal Reflection. Due to Covid19 pandemic we had internal directees via Zoom meetings.

“The longest journey is the journey inward.”Learning to listen contemplatively, distinguishing the conflicting spirits, and developing a contemplative spirituality are ongoing tasks in the life of a spiritual director.

The Siloam program for the past nine months has prepared me to practise spiritual direction with confidence and competence.It has given me the opportunity to embrace myself with a new spirit. The spirit of God is dwelling in me, the living springs of consolation, continue to live and bring forth newness and the desire to live according to His will. It has offered me a pensive voyage and a new way of looking at my entire journey and the life of others.

The significance of discernment in my life as well as for my directee is invaluable. It alerts me to the vulnerable spots that call for attention and healing, and invites me to trust in the gentle working of God’s Spirit in my directee and in myself. One of the significant learnings of this course was contemplative listening with heart. This new way of listening has given me new awareness of exploring and accompanying the young with gentleness and kindness. This course has also assisted me to understand the role of a spiritual director in the life of a person, who is a friend who is ready to listen to us without any prejudice. This can be our Rectors or anyone in the community or outside the community who can make us closer to God.

I am also indebted to the AUL provincial Fr. Will Matthew who made possible my stay and the Rector and all the confreres of Don Bosco Chadstone community who were so close to me and accompanied me as a friend. I am ready to go back to my PGS vice province and take up whatever task is going to entrust to me. I hope and pray that I may always put into practice whatever I have learned most importantly listen contemplatively for the discernment of God for me and others especially to the young people."

The Heart of Life (Melbourne, Divine Word University) offers a full time course (Siloam) for spiritual directors. In the past it has welcomed already SDB from Australia, Samoa and Vietnam. This year the first SDB from Papua New Guinea - Solomon Islands Viceprovince. We hope more Salesians will benefit from the Siloam program also in the future. Welcome to Melbourne - Australia!

Heart of Life

Vision: To be attuned to the mysterious Other in the heart of all Creation.

Values: ... the symphony of silence in each graced encounter;

the harmony of the universe in the divine and human embrace;

the contemplative capacity of the heart nestled within life’s experience.

Mission: The Mission of the Heart of Life is to enliven the divine spark in people’s hearts through contemplative formation

Heart of Life:

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