During the morning Mass, Fr. Martin spoke - in the context of the end of the liturgical year - about faith in eternal life and the Resurrection. Faith in ultimate things shapes our everyday life and influences our decisions. It is a source of peace and hope, especially in the face of the adversities of everyday life.
The guest speaker for this morning’s session was Fr. Tim Norton, SVD, bishop-elect for Brisbane, Australia. Fr. Tim introduced us to the topic of the day: Interculturality and Internationality in the Religious Communities. He started from looking at culture as the original and specific background of each individual person, moving from this starting point to considering specific groups of people and the challenges in their common life. Reaching out to the Acts of the Apostles, he showed the biblical foundations of intercultural communion. Citing many examples from the life of various international communities in different parts of the world, he showed the beauty and challenges of interculturalism in the consecrated life.
Sr. Veronika Openibo, SHCJ, deepened the topic in the afternoon. Culture is a dynamic phenomenon related to the place of origin, sex and the state of possession, it has both an individual and a community dimension; it shapes each person and is an element of his/her identity. Building an intercultural community includes preparing the new members as well as the accepting community. Sharing life and mission is possible by building good mutual relations, which include dialogue, harmony and balanced relationships, openness, good, pure intentions, tolerance and respect, and looking for a realistic level of mutual understanding. Building such a community takes time, and we must resign to the fact, that perfect unity and understanding will remain impossible.
At the plenum, we had the opportunity to discuss and deepen the topic as well as share our own experience.
We started Advent with Vespers, after which we met at a cultural evening: Different flavors, traditional costumes, dances and stories from different parts of the world showed us the richness and diversity of the Congregation.