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Rooted in responsibility

Ugandan Charles Jaryekonga SJ spent two years of his Jesuit formation as a regent in Belvedere College SJ from August 2016 to May 2018. In this last of a series of blog posts, he explores the many fruits of his apostolic activities.

The different apostolic activities exposed me to the rigour of taking up a responsibility and executing it to the best of my ability. A task is given on trust and that trust ought to be justified in the effort and diligence one puts in executing the task. These include both definite and indefinite tasks such as timetabled activities like classes and other activities like writing reports, all of which ought to be carried out within a given period of time and at times with regularity. This brings pressure that is often unnerving and could easily reduce efficiency. This calls for calming down, talking to a colleague (at times the director of works – faith and service), or simply giving the mind time to rest and internalise and accept the struggles and tensions. By doing these, I keep my composure and I am able to handle the pressures.

Another important thing is accepting outcomes as realities. Many times, there are successes as well as failures or results that I did not anticipate. This could be in meeting a deadline with a report, a class going wild, or realising that the learner does not capture the intended message. The important lesson for me is to accept results of my effort for as long as I put in a good effort and not to be driven into despair. These provide occasions for learning, for accepting my weaknesses and to try to improve, to be humbler, and above all, responsible.

Responsibility is a big value that keeps apostolates running. I am entrusted not just with tasks, but more importantly with young-human beings who look to me as a guide walking them into their future. As a big brother to them and a teacher, the responsibility comes with the establishment of mature relationships based on clear boundaries that protects the young as well as give them opportunities to develop and grow, that is, providing an environment that allows for education to take place. This also involves good relationship with the staff members. It is clear for me that professional development is rooted in responsibility, and that responsibility is shared with others who are part of the mission; it is a responsibility for and with others.

I feel I have also improved on my level of confidence and authority. As a teacher, I find that it is important to inspire confidence in the learners, and one of the ways of doing that is by being confident yourself or at least sending a message of confidence. This is equally true when it comes to authority which implies responsibly taking charge. I think leadership revolves around confidence and mature use of authority as a means of bringing others on board and ushering them into the task at hand with the hope of achieving the intended goals that all involve strive for. As a regent, I am part of a school family aiming for all-rounded formation of young men into adults with responsibility of bringing transformation into the world, so it falls on me in my capacity to provide that leadership in my every day encounters with the lads and activities.

I feel very lucky that the school exposed me to vast array of concrete experiences of the meaning and importance of the Society’s preferential option for the poor. I found my interest in social apostolates fulfilled through the various social service activities in the school. From soup runs to VDP parties for older folks, and hampers for children from the inner city, the sleep out, the BELL program, the Zambian project, and the Block Pull among others, I had opportunities for constant contact with and pursuing options for the poor. It is also important for me to take part because I am personally concerned about the poor and to encourage the boys, since most of the activities are student-led. As a Jesuit scholastic, the apostolic experiences during regency draws from a well that feeds into the spiritual formation and growth.

I am grateful to Belvedere College for providing me with space for my regency experiences. I would like to remember former Rector (late) Derek Cassidy SJ, and the two current Jesuits in the school – Paddy Greene SJ, the Rector, and the legendary Br. Eamonn Davis SJ. All the experiences I had in Belvedere College are made possible because of the support and positive relationship with the Director of Faith and Service in the school, Mr. Padraig Swan, Mr. Gerry Foley the Headmaster, Mr. Seamus Finegan, Ms. Lesley Byrne, and Ms. Clodagh Culligan the three deputy headmasters, the chaplains, Mr. Eoghan Keogh, Mr. Robert Altman, and Ms. Trish Carroll, fellow staff members, and importantly the pupils, for whom all of us find ourselves in Belvedere College. I am also grateful to the Jesuit community for the love, care, support, and encouragement I get that, in turn, supports my apostolate. I can gladly say that I have had a great and fruitful regency experience.

This is the fourth of a series of blogposts by Charles. His earlier posts can be accessed here: 

  1. The sun refused to set
  2. Depending on God more
  3. A new cultural identity