love, the Heart of the Universe. Week Seven
This week focused on “Community and Communion for Mission” and was led by Sr. Mary Sujita SND. She began with a presentation on different styles and barriers to communication. The group was invited to reflect and share on blocks to effective communication in their community. Among points mentioned were a lack of listening, judgmental attitudes, blaming others and difficulties in direct communication. The group reflected cultural influences coming from the family of origin.
It was only after Vatican II that congregations put more emphasis on cultural sensitivity and enculturation and the understanding that the original charism could not only enrich cultures but be enriched by the cultures in which it is incarnated.
Words we often hear are multi-cultural, cross cultural and intercultural. Sr. Sujita described multicultural as living together separately with no quality of relationship. Cross Cultural is seen as reaching beyond boundaries to understand another culture. There is limited learning or exchange between cultural groups and power differences are not addressed. In intercultural living a sense of reciprocity is involved. People from different cultural groups interact with one another, learn and grow together in relationships and become transformed. This is seen as a model for religious life.
Community is mission and for mission. It is mission when it is Eucharistic, when we become bread for each other, blessed broken and shared. The gift and challenge of community is to generate communion. To make this happen, the members need to move out of their comfort zone and be incarnated in the messiness of their own local community as well as the in messiness of the wider society. Communities are meant for shaping the apostle in us. This means personal conversion- a radical return to Jesus and to relationships with God’s people.
Among the gifts of community are: a) belonging and relationships/ quality of presence, b) communion, c) solidarity, support, d)healing, forgiveness and mutual acceptance, e)prophetic presence, f) shared vision and mission.
Some challenges mentioned were: a) developing relationships, b)confronting a materialistic and consumeristic society, c) individualism, d)generation gaps, and
e) rapid changes in society.
One of the greatest challenges before us today is to make our community a Sacred Space where we share our vision. And where together, we find creative ways of living for the sake of mission, especially to those on the periphery.
After sharing on qualities of leaders and models of leadership, we observed that relationships are central to all models.