On Friday, September 16, Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN) kicked-off the brand new Restorative Justice (RJ) Ministry Communities of Practice. Over 50 restorative justice learners and leaders from parishes, schools, religious orders, and nonprofits gathered together, invigorated to join with one another over the next year for communal learning, discernment, and growth.
Why these Communities of Practice?
Throughout CMN’s efforts to promote restorative justice, we have heard engaged practitioners’ desires for continued learning and peer connection.
This was affirmed at the kickoff event where attendees shared their search for spiritual growth as practitioners, places to practice using their circlekeeping skills, and appreciation of the diversity of skills and interests within the community. CMN’s hope is that the RJ Ministry Communities of Practice become a vessel for all of this and more.
With these hopes and gifts in mind, CMN now adds two new virtual events to its restorative justice offerings: Discernment Retreats and Deepening Circles. These events are intended for those who already have some basic knowledge or experience with restorative justice and are ready to take the next step.
As a community, we have four main goals:
1. Learn new skills and tools for holding restorative conversations in community
In each gathering we will participate in circle processes for reflection and sharing, utilizing creative activities and technologies to facilitate learning and lens shifting. Each meeting will be designed to not only benefit our community, but to provide tangible skills for community members to bring back to their respective ministry or practice.
2. Build relationships of accompaniment with fellow RJ ministers
Through icebreakers, break-out groups, and chat-based sharing we will meet fellow travelers on the road. At each event, participants will have the opportunity to gather with individuals who are serving in a similar area of ministry. We also encourage community members to connect outside of the live events.
3. Navigate core questions and challenges of implementing restorative practices in ministry
Learning from the wisdom of restorative justice implementation in other sectors, as people of faith, we will ask questions such as: What gifts and wisdom are available to us from prior experience in ministry and spiritual formation? What unique challenges and barriers to implementation exist within and among Catholic and faith-based institutions? How do we meaningfully collaborate with other organizations and efforts that seek to promote restorative justice?
4. Deepen understanding of restorative justice in light of Catholic teaching
We acknowledge that restorative justice has roots in a multitude of spiritual and cultural traditions and welcome all those who seek to integrate their Chrisitan identity within restorative justice practice. Through prayer and reflection, we aim to elicit new insights about the call to be agents of restoration and healing within our particular areas of ministry — transforming lives and systems.
To learn more about the RJ Ministry Communities of Practice or to register for an upcoming event, visit catholicsmobilizing.org/communities-practice.