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Connection, creativity, challenge and co-creation: Pioneering Digital Accompaniment

Posted by Philippe Dulawan on 7 May 2020
Connection, creativity, challenge and co-creation: Pioneering Digital Accompaniment

Connection, creativity, challenge and co-creation:  these have been the experience of the Formation for Mission and Young Lasallians Team as we have collectively approached the reality of ministry during COVID-19. On April 6 the Young Lasallians Team wrote the following to the "Dream Team" of Lasallian Youth Ministers found across the District:

In times of great upheaval and change, the Lasallian Community has come together to share the collective wisdom of everyone through stories, insights and collaboration. De La Salle and the early Brothers were innovators who recognised the reality of their time and got together to pursue the education of those entrusted into their care collaboratively. Their example gives us hope - we never stop learning, growing, and innovating. The Young Lasallians Team has drawn inspiration from our founding story in this period of pioneering Young Lasallians ministry in the digital space. Leveraging our experience in facilitating in-person retreats has been a creative challenge as the team have sought to provide worthwhile virtual experiences. Two projects utilising Zoom have provided hope.

Parmenie Experiences have in the past been an in-person retreat for Young Adults providing "community, rest and purpose". These experiences were adapted to the online space based on the model of online "family chapel" sessions by the ritual consultants sacred.design. In the new format, these online Parmenie Experiences ran for thirty minutes and featured two live musicians as well as sacred rituals of lighting and extinguishing candles. Participants joined conversations in breakout rooms to discuss their reflections. Online Parmenie Experiences have now been held three times, gathering 6 to 14 people. These online Parmenie Experiences will continue throughout Term 2 with the LV's and YM's invited to join in every Thursday at 9 am.

The second project offering hope was the end-of-Term retreat for the Young Lasallians Provincial Office members: "Pilgrimage: Our Walk Together". This experience was longer, beginning at 10 am and concluding at 3 pm. The program was thoughtfully designed by the team and facilitated by Amanda Proulx, Director of Formation for Mission. The retreat focused on the team's collective pilgrimage of the first term, the unpacking of our values using Brene Brown's book Dare to Lead, and a loving-kindness meditation to close the day. There was ample non-screen time, where participants were on mute, camera off, and were encouraged to move around their home or complete a task for personal reflection. Lunch was shared virtually as a common meal was delivered to each participant's home. One key learning was that Zoom fatigue is real, and a careful balancing of screen time and non-screen time is paramount for successful, long-form digital gatherings. Digital elements provided to each participant included virtual backgrounds, sent before the retreat and changed to signify a change in topic and mood. Through screen sharing and google documents, participants could use visual aids as they shared their reflections. Although each person was somewhat sceptical of a digital retreat, in the end they all indicated strong engagement in the experience and said that they would participate in an online retreat again.

The Young Lasallians Team and Formation for Mission team look forward to working with you to provide experiences online and in-person. Feel free to contact either  Amanda Proulx (amandaproulx@delasalle.org.au) or Philippe Dulawan (philippedulawan@delasalle.org.au) to see what is possible.

Author:Philippe Dulawan
About: Senior Youth Ministry Coordinator
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