In this interview Fr. Fransisko Kanyamanza SJ, Delegate for Education in the Central Africa Province (ACE), shares his reflections on the Examination of Conscience how it is practiced and the benefits of this spiritual exercise in the schools of the region.
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background in Jesuit Education and your current role?
My name is Fransisko Bahati Kanyamanza and I am a Congolese Jesuit priest. I am an educator by training and by profession. I have exercised my ministry as an educator mainly in Jesuit educational institutions. After teaching the final year students in our High School, I have served in school administration for eight years, the last four of which were spent as rector at “Collège Boboto”, Kinshasa, DRC. In the past year, I have been asked to take up the role of Education Delegate in the Jesuit Province of ACE, a Province with eight Jesuit schools of varying sizes.
2. What is your general opinion about Action #1 (described below) and its impact on the successful achievement of the mission of the Society of Jesus?
The Delegates commit to promote the Examen of Consciousness in each of the schools to help students listen to their inner voice and learn the path of interiority”. – JESEDU-Rio2017
The Examination of Conscience is a spiritual exercise. When practiced in an effective and integral way, it helps to build educational communities where spiritual depth is alive and prepares the way for an effective and original implementation of the 4 Cs (Consciousness-Competence-Compassion-Commitment).
The context in which educators live is that of an immediacy and a superficiality generated by the mass media and structural impoverishment.
Jesuit education in Congo (Democratic Republic) has greatly shaped Catholic education, which in turn has greatly influenced national education. The criticism addressed to the latter is that it has produced an elite that has led the country to the present state. Thanks to the examination of conscience in our educational institutions, criticism of Catholic education may no longer be relevant in the long term.
3. Could you tell us how the implementation process of this action has been in your Region/Province? What steps have you and your Schools taken?
The implementation of Action #1 in our province is a four-step process. The first step was to hold a meeting of all the Presidents of our educational institutions and all their assistants. During the said meeting, the head of each school undertook to implement Action #1. The second step is the effective implementation of this action on a school-by-school level. Each school defines its strategies according to its local context. The third step would consist of exchanges on how the implementation was carried out in the schools, followed by the delegate’s visit to strengthen the practice in the different schools. This third stage was very difficult due to the poor accessibility of all our schools to the Internet and to the election period [in DR Congo]), which was marked by unrest limiting the delegate’s movements for personal safety reasons. The fourth step should be a new meeting of Principals to report on practice and share successful experiences and challenges. It will therefore be necessary for the 2019-2020 school year to relaunch the third stage and combine it with the fourth.
4. What would you say are the main challenges in the implementation of this action? What would you advise other schools/provinces to consider before, during and after the implementation of this action?
A significant challenge is the absence of silence. Our contemporaries live in the noise and instant consumption of the “products” of the social networks without critical thinking. We must help people to love and seek inner silence. Silence prepares for a quality examination of conscience and this examen leads to more silence.
I would advise other schools and provinces to share their experiences to enrich one another.
5. Anything else you would like to add? (optional)
The practice of the examen in a school environment varies according to the age of the learners and the experience gained through practice. A pedagogy adapted to each age group could be considered.