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Training faith formators to “live life in the classroom”

LIKAS – More than 90 participants benefited from a recently held Ignatian Pedagogy training program for faith formators at St Simon Likas parish hall on Sep 14-16.

What is the Ignatian Pedagogy?  Very simply, it is a way of living our lives in the classroom. It is a way of learning and a method of teaching based on the life and spirit of St Ignatius. The basic Ignatian Pedagogy frame is made up of parts that are easily seen and practised in daily life, and thus positively effect both students and formators.

Fr Alvin Ho, SJ, from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur facilitated the formation and workshop targeted for the English speaking catechists and facilitators in the KK Archdiocese who are involved in the catechetical ministry in giving catecheses to the young in Sunday School, RCIA, RCIC and Kids of the Kingdom. They came from St Simon Likas, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Blessed Sacrament Labuan, St Michael Penampang, Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang, Holy Family Telipok, and St John Tuaran. Of special note was the Chinese speaking catechists from Sacred Heart Cathedral who joined the training.

An educator by background, as well as a trained catechist, Jesuit priest Fr Ho is an expert in this field.  He is also the immediate past chairman of the Malaysian Catechetical Commission.

He reminded the participants that serving as a catechist is “not a part-time hobby”, but “of paramount importance to fully dedicate oneself to this ministry”.

“The goal is to help learners to attain the end for which they were created: knowledge and love of God, and salvation,” explained Fr Ho.

The elements of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm help the participants to consider the context (what needs to be known about the learners), experience of the learners (to engage the learners by relating to their experience) and to guide them to reflection and to move beyond knowledge to action.

After the inputs, participants were put into small group discussions on how to apply the steps given by the speaker.

The participants were enthusiastic, happy, inspired, motivated and encouraged in learning the new skills and methods of teaching even though it was difficult to apply in the beginning.  But after more sessions of discussion and clarification from the speaker, the participants were more enlightened and challenged to apply this method in their weekly catechism classes.

Some participants expressed that there were still many things they needed to learn, and that the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm was very complex. One remarked “We need refresher courses or workshops such as this.” Yet another said “This formation is very useful in order to mould us as catechists to better improve our ways of guiding and approach when it comes to dealing with children of God.”  While one found that the training program was very useful, and has provided the confidence to prepare lesson, and another opined that the examples given by Fr Alvin from his personal teaching experience were very helpful.

The feedback from the survey forms showed an overwhelming response where 90 percent found the program met their expectations and was useful for their application in their classes. – Sr Dariah Ajap 

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