From international to intercultural community
(Tampa – November 8) – Fr. Tarcisio Dos Santos, Fr. Miguel Suarez, Fr. Steve Leake, Fr. Gus Baek, and Fr. Franco Pinto attended the “Engaging Our Diversity: Interculturality and Consecrated Life” workshop held at the Chicago Theological Union and hosted by the Center for the Study of Consecrated Life, November 2-5.
Some participants at this workshop were principal animators, some were formators, while others held some kind of office in their congregation’s headquarters. About 20 religious congregations participated.
Participants/representatives came from theUSA, Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America. One address was given by Teresa May, Mother General of the Sisters of Charity. To paraphrase her talk in a few words, it would be “Restoring Human Dignity” by treating people as people, a call to engage in diversity. Anthony Gittins, CSSp, author of 17 books, stated his thesis as “Changing ideas of community and identity: From international to intercultural community.” The way he unpacked this loaded topic with scholarly logic made us all look deeply into our own souls and our own perceptions and the interactions that follow from our perceptions. Maria Nguyen, OSB, and Roger Schroeder, SVD, gave the participants an insight into the sociocentric” and “individual-centric” principles of the cultural worlds. The examples they cited were real, not just in the past but in the present too.
Jung Eun Sophia Park, SNJM, an author of five books and countless articles, shared a very simple but thought-provoking theme: “Let it go (some perceptions), Let it come (openness to the Holy Spirit).” Adriana Carla Milmanda, SSpS, flew all the way from Argentina to share her thoughts. Her talk revolved around two Scriptural references, namely the Woman at the Well and the Syro-Phoenician Woman. Tim Norton, SVD, an Australian who runs the Ad Gentes Center in Italy, briefly summed up the theme of interculturality and then delved deep on themes such as intercultural sensitivity, intercultural communication, and intercultural transformation. He encouraged the participants to view culture not just through the lens of ethnicity and nationality but also to think about it in terms of gender, personality, and generation.
Other than talks, the participants had to react to three interesting case studies. Those made quite some discussions. Besides that, each religious order was asked to meet in an assigned room to work on projects and finally to come up with a project that would be relevant to its own reality. For us the project involves our province; for others it was their wider, all-encompassing religious congregations. Sometime in the near future everyone of our communities will be asked to help in this project.