Irish Province Book Club A Spiritan Mission Ireland (SMI) Initiative for 2019

Seán Goan, Co-Ordinator, Spiritan Mission Ireland

Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading. ( Rainer Maria Rilke ) 

Book Clubs draw people together to share an interest in reading, and encourage conversation and friendship. Further to the suggestion of some members of the Province, Spiritan Mission Ireland will launch an Irish Province Book Club on the margins of our 2019 celebration (in Kimmage, on Friday next) of Libermann Day when we give thought to our call to grow as disciples of Jesus. 

The idea is simple. Anyone who is interested is invited to find like-minded people in their community or specific area of Spiritan life who might be interested in reading the suggested book. A suitable time and place are chosen when this small group can come together to share in an informal and relaxed way their ideas of the work that has been chosen. The aim is to promote informal reflection and discussion, and to encourage friendship and dialogue with those with whom we live and work. After the sharing, a volunteer secretary might then forward a summary of reflections and views to the Communications Office for inclusion in a Province communication. 

For our first book, I am suggesting that we read: The Quiet Revolution of Pope Francis: A Synodal Catholic Church in Ireland?, by Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, Messenger Publications 2018. A theology book, its focus is on Pope Francis’ ideas for the future of the Church and how it should be governed. I have some 50 copies at the special price of €10 each (€12:95 in the shops!) 

If groups organise and give themselves a month to read it and then have their meeting, it will give time for another book during Lent. Suggestions for other books will be forthcoming. However, once a group has gathered and found it enjoyable, they may then decide on their own book depending on local interests etc. though it would be good to continue to share with the Province which books are being read and what the response is to them. 

Discussion guidelines to ensure a good time is had by all!

Interruptions – There will always be someone who breaks in while another person is speaking. Most interruptions during discussion are due to enthusiasm rather than rudeness. Take control by saying, for example, “Hold that thought. We’ll want to hear it again once [name] has finished.” 

Monopolizing Conversation – Intervene in a long-winded input with, for example, “That’s an interesting point you just made. Did anyone else get the same impression? Or a different one?” / “You’ve made some interesting points. Let’s hear from another reader…. What did you think?” 

Keeping the group on topic – Try not to let readers wander. Bring them back if they do. 

Listen carefully to what is said by individuals – Where necessary e.g. when dealing with a verbose participant, re-phrase an intervention to be sure that you and / or others have understood. 

Encourage everyone the chance to contribute to the discussion – Without badgering the ‘silent readers’ or those who may not have finished the book but who don’t want to admit that, engage them directly via open-ended questions e.g. “[Name], What did you like/dislike about the book?” 

Remind everyone of the next meeting, date/time/place, and title of the book to be discussed.