At the end of January, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), organized a special program on Interculturality. The 2-week Workshop was held at the UISG Headquarters in Rome. The purpose of this program was to assist religious congregations in engaging in their cultural/ ethnic/national diversity and moving closer to a fuller expression and experience of mutually-enriching interculturality both within the congregation and in their ministry/mission activities.
The UISG program was designed to prepare a Core Team of four persons from each Congregation to serve as a catalyst and resource to guide their community through this process, as well as to be available as an intercultural resource for other congregations in their regions. The participants were a very diverse group of 180 Sisters from 45 Congregations. Among whom 23% were from Africa, 23% from Asia, 21% from Europe, 20% from South America, 10% from North America and 3% from Oceania. The four Sisters from our Congregation were of different nationalities: Sr. Izabela Świerad (Poland), Sr. Josephina D’Souza (India), Sr. Mary McNulty (Ireland) and Sr. Marie Clair Mukeshimana (Rwanda).
During the Workshop, as we interacted through our diversity and our Intercultural background and understanding, we were helped to realize that the gifts of multicultural communities, where we live and serve, are not always recognized and fully valued. Often a lack of proper understanding and knowledge of this covers and veils the richness of our members, both in our Congregations and in the Church, as well as the beauty of diversity in unity.
In our religious congregations, there are various levels of experience through which we can respond to these challenges: vocation, formation, ministry, community life, spirituality, leadership and finances. However, it is important to recognize the urgent need to develop more clearly and deeply our identity as members of the Intercultural “Body of Christ”, and how TOGETHER we need to plan and carry out our apostolates, listening to one another and using our various gifts as members of intercultural communities.
In facing the challenges of this multicultural transition, conversion is a key element and opportunity in the on-going process of transforming the face of religious life around the world. Hopefully this process will lead to the enrichment and revival of the vision and practice of the charism of each religious congregation in a way that is appropriate and relevant today. This in turn can provide a strong prophetic witness of Intercultural living for the Church and the broader society. It will show how the interaction and engagement of different cultures and nationalities can be an opportunity for personal conversion, mutual transformation and enrichment in our communities and in the whole world.