The old medieval city of Medina was an excellent backdrop to the Ignatian Formation Days for staff from St Aloysius Primary School in Malta. The staff which was split into small groups could enjoy the day on the footsteps of St Aloysius Gonzaga, a person of the city. Last year’s 450th Anniversary of Aloysius’ Gonzaga was the basis of the ‘Alive’ theme, which the College reflected upon during the whole year. Taking three sub-themes over the year, namely Called, Committed, Compassionate we could delve deeper in the spirituality of our patron saint.

The formation days set off with a reflection on the spirituality of our calling. Taking the Annunciation painting of ‘Stefano Erardi’ as a basis for our reflection, we could discover our calling as educators as one which brings to life so many of God’s sparks in the life of our students.

From the Carmelite Church we moved to the childhood house of the founder of the Missionary Society of St Paul – the Servant of God Mons. Joseph de Piro. There we were up for a challenge! We examined ourselves on our commitment in different areas of our life. We could all easily identify an area in which we had to go deeper into the spiral of life, getting closer to God’s desire for each and every one of us.

The final stage of our day in the city was a dive in the deeper end. Staff was surprised when they were told to test their courage and compassion: Each teacher had to prepare a pencil with a message written on a paper flower. The big thing was that the teachers, who are used to relate to the same ‘clients’ for a year had to go out and present this flower to locals and tourists alike. As they walked back to the convent, they recounted experiences of rejections and deeper encounters again. Compassion has different shades and colours, many a times it takes a decision! And the staff was happy to go for it.

The experience was a milestone for the staff, marking for all of us a year to remember, a year which enthused us to be ‘Alive in the City’ of our lives.