Leadership for Transformation and Social Change
Encounter and Transformation
Curtis Martin, the founder of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) directs our attention to the relationship between ‘encounter’ and ‘transformation’ in his book Making Missionary Disciples (2018). Drawing on the writing of Pope Francis, Martin describes a three step process used by FOCUS to help people to be ‘missionary disciples.’ The three steps are: win, build, send. Well, they are not so much steps as an intricate dance, which is choreographed by the Holy Spirit. It is possible that all three ‘steps’ can be made in one brief incident or event in a person’s life.
Martin uses the word ‘encounter’ to define the ‘win’ step. He says that encounters are ‘experiences where people leave lasting impressions in our lives.’ on us. Those experiences that bring us into contact with Jesus, that is, experiences of being evangelised that cause us to reflect on his presence and power in the world in which we live are encounters, can be many and varied. But they amount to just one thing: we are being called by the Holy Spirit into a loving, intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity.
Where and how we hear that call is part of the mystery of faith. Martin writes: ‘Our ability to encounter the risen Jesus today—through the teachings of the apostles, fellowship, the sacraments, and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42)—is what allows us to deepen our friendship with him and transforms our lives as well.’ If I was to find criticism with his explanation, it would be that it lacks the imagination that the Holy Spirit possesses in infinite abundance. I will explain with a few examples drawn from my life.
When I launched myself into research into Religious Education teachers personal constructs of revelation and how they inform their teaching of Religious Education, I interviewed one teacher who found God revealed in the pages of the Sunday Times, a weekly newspaper composed and printed for circulation in Western Australia.
“The early Church Fathers gave us an image for how our lives are transformed in Christ. Imagine a cold steel bar and a hot burning fire. They have almost nothing in common. If you place the cold rod in the hot fire, though, something amazing begins to happen: The rod begins to take on the properties of the fire. It grows warm, it begins to glow — and if you were to take the rod out of the fire and touch it to some straw, it could actually start a fire itself.”
Making Missionary Disciples
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I am a member of the Australian Cardijn Institute, a NFP organisation dedicated to promoting the ideas and work of Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, the founder of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) movement.
There was a time in Australia when the YCW and the student organisation YCS were popular and active in the Church and Australian society. For reasons, that are not yet clear, both movements declined significantly and within the Church the method developed by Cardijn lost its power.
The ACI has committed itself to reviving interest in and use of Cardijn’s method of See, Judge and Act. One of its actions is the design and delivery of the program titled “Leadership for Transformation and Social Change.”