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10/18/16

Finding God in an Intercultural Circle

by Brother Chris

 

         Last Saturday was one of my most meaningful days in ministry.

Over 80 parishioners, from 5 continents & 16 countries, and speakers of at least different 7 languages, gathered to share stories and deepen relationships.  Some people had been acquainted with one another for years.  But our prayer, testimonies, faith sharing, and international lunch transformed us.  Before we were acquainted with one another.  Now, we know one another.

         At our Intercultural Circle, one sister described being a survivor.  During the Flower Ave. Apartments Fire, she prayed for her missing mother and daughter.  Thank God they were alright!  They lost everything they owned.  Everything.  The only possessions that were recovered were a picture of our Lady of Fatima and a prized family heirloom:  a Bible from homeland Senegal, Africa.  Our sister thanked our St. Camillus parish family for our tremendous outpouring of solidarity.  The clothes on her back came from us.

         Two parishioners described fleeing from their homelands of Bangladesh and El Salvador in order to escape violence.  One said, “I was scared, but never lost my faith.”  He described being detained and stripped.  His eyes were bandaged and his arms and legs were tied.  “Thank God they let me go,” he exclaimed.  “God did not let me die there.  God has a purpose for me.  God has a purpose for everybody.”

         In separate stories, both men arrived here, married the loves of their lives, and have become fathers and St. Camillus parishioners.  On Saturday, their parallel paths became intertwined.  Alleluia!

During lighter moments of the Intercultural Circle, participants described Christmas traditions, their heroes, and favorite styles of prayer and music.  Many recalled overcoming a serious illness or trial.  Some told stories about times they felt close to God or meaningful experiences of Church, retreat, or prayer.

Everyone gave of themselves.  And everyone was enriched.

         And so it is with the Body of Christ:  we at St. Camillus are many parts.  And one Body.

 

Becoming More Intercultural and Engaging in an Emmaus Year

In intercultural parishes, each group is involved in its own project and also actively shares in relationship with the other groups.  There is a collective conscious effort to interact with other groups by engaging in conversations, faith sharing, and realizing the parish mission together in a very intentional way.

The focus is on the entire tree with attention paid to each particular branch.  The various branches interact and intertwine with one another.  

St. Camillus already is an Intercultural Parish.  Now, I respectfully invite the St. Camillus Parish Family to make an intentional effort to become even more intercultural.

During our Intercultural Circle, we made a conscious effort to reveal ourselves and to treasure the other.  To strengthen our relationships and deepen our bonds.

    As your servant-pastor and brother, I gently invite you, the entire St. Camillus Parish Family, to enter into this process.  Together with Parish Council and Friars, we proclaim 2017 as an Emmaus Year here at St. Camillus.  Echoing the post-resurrection story in Luke’s Gospel chapter 24, we are all invited to make a conscious effort to tell and listen to one another’s stories, to strengthen our bonds, and grow even deeper into One, united Body of Christ.

This can be done on an individual level between parishioners, or on a communal level within or among parish groups.  For example, various music ministries and Legions of Mary can conduct its own Intercultural Circles.  Or JPIC, catechists, or Food Pantry teams, can conduct their own Intercultural Circles.  

Any parish organization that would like to conduct an Intercultural Circle can receive guidance. Just ask, and you will receive.  If you have any suggestions, please bring then to me or any parish council member, staff, or friar.  

I am grateful to all of those whom have begun to participate in this process and encourage our entire parish family to be intentional about sharing our stories, participating in the St. Camillus Emmaus Year 2017, and engaging in the Intercultural Process through involvement in Intercultural Activities listed on the following page. Then, as on the Road to Emmaus, we can proclaim, “Are not our hearts burning within us!”

 

 

* * * SAVE THE DATES * * *

Intercultural Opportunities 2017:

St. Camillus Parish Family

 

Friday, January 6, 7:00 PM

Epiphany:  Feast of 3 Kings

“Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” -Psalm 72

Intercultural Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

 

Saturday, February 11, evening:

Intercultural St. Valentine Celebration, Camillia Room

 

Thursday, March 30, 7:00 PM

Intercultural Lenten Soup & Supper, Camillia Room

 

April 13, 14, & 15

Intercultural Triduum

 

Saturday & Sunday, May 6 & 7

Intercultural Retreat at Loyola Retreat House, Faulkner, Maryland

 

Saturday, May 13

         Intercultural Parish festival featuring opening mass, procession & crowning of Mary, international lunch, and international entertainment

 

Saturday, October 21:

       ***Parish-Wide Intercultural Conference***

         B.I.C.==>Being Intercultural Church

   or   B.I.C.==>Building Intercultural Connections

         Starts in the morning, concludes with Intercultural 4:30 PM mass

 

For further information, contact 301-434-3400 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.