What helps to reflect in CANA fraternity

Name educator: Elina Jackiene

Name partner organisation: Vilnius University


Description of the course: this project took place in my non-formal activity – Cana fraternity. This is a 3-4 years training program in a learning community for Christian families and learning mainly recognized through reflection.   Families grow through prayer and sharing, by listening to the Word of God, through teachings, workshops, service and free time, learning to “be church” together. Through a path of dialogue and reconciliation, couples experience a true ‘renewal’ of their union and of the grace of their sacrament of marriage. All the year round once per month the same 3-5 couples (almost a self -help group) has a meeting called Fraternity with a special topic. They share their experience in this topic, reflect how they feel with this experience now. The topic for example: “My (our) journey to faith” or “How we deal with children in our family” is selected by a couple who have responsibility for the fraternity couples, considering their needs. This is a voluntary participation.

Aim of testing project: I am participating in this community for the 5th year and I noticed that couples are sharing, and are reflecting in a very deep and open way. Couples are very motivated to participate, the atmosphere of fraternity is very reflective; the relationships between members are based on trust, empathy, dialogue and feedback. But my hypothesis is that this depends not only on the responsible couple who is leading the fraternity and the fraternity guidelines, but also on prayer, from which the meeting starts and ends. I guess that prayer also works as a kind of facilitator here. So the aim of the project is to understand what helps persons to reflect so deeply. I have asked participants, what helps them to be so close in fraternity, what is the role of prayer, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the role fraternity leaders.


Date(s) of the testing project: 2015 10- 2016 01

Target group: Vilnius Cana fraternity              

Number of participants: 8

Nationality of the participants: Lithuanians

Sex of the participants: females­­­­­­­­­­_4_____  man­­­__4____

Age of the participants:__34____ to____40__

Amount of meetings with the learners:___4_(3 hours each)

A Number of people reflecting:   Solo (1 person) X  Small group

(< 20 people)


 Large group

(> 20 people)


B The way(s) of sharing:
Verbal: X


Non-verbal: X  Pictures /

X  drawings

X  Text   Em­bodied  sculpture


 Other forms of expression


Digital:   Padlet


  Social media   Digital diary


C Place of reflection (where) X  Indoors


X  Outdoors   On-line


D. Steps taken to implement

How did you organize your testing project (or to put it differently: as this is a testing project for experimenting, what will be different comparing to the same course you run the previous time)?

I was participating in 4 fraternity meetings, and I was documenting what was going on. I have 4 descriptions of the activities and processes with my personal comments. In the last fraternity meeting participants were asked to answer 14 open questions in order to understand their views on what is helping them to reflect so deeply? And who takes responsibility for facilitation of reflection in such self -help groups of learning community? The structure of the fraternity: common prayer, listening to the word of God, 1st sharing circle: how I am today and now; 2nd-sharing on the selected topic, ending prayer.

Acting as fraternity leader myself I tried to use silent moments more than in my previous practice in order to allow participants more chance to reflect.

E. Your assessment of the outcome

In general, how do you look at the results of your testing project?

I have found that participants of the fraternity give responsibility of the fraternity to „the Holy Spirit“, or „the Lord“ who is guiding the meeting. The common prayer which takes place at the beginning and end of the meeting creates an atmosphere suitable for sharing. Later on participants told that also the common rules and guidlines about how to act in the fraternity, well known to participants as „Cana format“(to talk about myself, from myself, to be honest, to take time even to stay in silence, not to comment or criticize, everybody is valuable, and sharing is a gift not an obligation) helps to share. More help is provided by other participants: ‚brothers and sisters‘ are also mentioned, but the official fraternity leaders do not have more influence than others. Participants trust in the power of prayer, and prayer multiplies the reflection effect.

F  Connecting with principles: which principle(s) were you taking into consideration mostly when facilitating reflection with learners? Please add 2 sentences about how you were translating the principle into practice. For more information: see postings on principles.



Raising awareness within learners to ‘own’ their learning in personally meaningful way

Due to fraternity guidelines and format which create an atmosphere participants speak about their will and also the possibility in fraternity meetings to get answers to their personal questions themselves, to learn from others’ experience and later on to make decisions based on them, to change something in their lives. One of the principles, “to speak about myself”, leads participants to their own authentic point of view, to clarify their present and to shape future behavior.



Developing a relationship between educator and learners based on trust, openness, empathy, honesty, dialogue and feedback.

All participants mention the good, deep fraternity climate which is based on the rules of fraternity but the first place here is given in their words “to the Holy spirit”.

All participants in fraternity are treated equally, even the formal leaders are not mentioned as taking a very special role, they have “just to start with the prayer, to say the topic and to finish”.



Co-creating the reflective process




Managing the steering paradox of intrinsic learning processes


Creating the right reflective attention of learners




Slowing down and value moments of not-knowing,

A time of silence is left after every participant‘s sharing according to fraternity rules in order to respect the gift of sharing and experience, take time to feel, what this means to them, and „because God speaks in the silence“.



Deepening your questions progressively


Recalling that reflection can never be imposed, only kindly invited.

Participants understand sharing as a gift. “It’s nice to give gifts for other participants and to get gifts from others; that‘s why I want to share, caring for myself and for others“.



Always considering reflection as a broad and deepening process, that should be holistic.


Being careful how to asses reflection (or not at all)