GRANBY, QUEBEC, CANADA (August 19, 2016)
Members of the three Spiritan North American provinces (TransCanada, Canada, and the United States) gathered in Granby on August 14 – 19, 2016, for Spiritans Beyond Borders: A Time to Dream Together, “to share our histories, our hopes, and to forge a path towards a more collaborative future.”
The Spiritans Beyond Borders assembly was conducted at Centre Jean-Paul Regimbald in Granby, Quebec.
A primary goal of the gathering was to generate a deeper insight into the Spiritan charism and to find new ways of living it.
Representing both professed and lay Spiritans, the Granby meeting reflected on Spiritan spirituality, “to be of service to those on the peripheries, the poor, the refugees, the immigrants, the marginalized while living in communion with all creation. This Spiritan vision includes our entering into intergenerational, intercultural and interreligious (interfaith) dialogue. This vision is in fact an opening to the great challenge of listening to the Holy Spirit. We experienced joy, energy and harmony as we share together what we have lived up to now.”
Speakers at the gathering included: Jean-Claude Ravet, editor-in-chief of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) magazine Relations, who spoke on the topic of Society and Culture in North America – Trends and Challenges; Fr. Anthony Gittins, CSSp, anthropologist and theologian, who addressed the theme, Living Mission Interculturally; and Br. Marc Tyrant, CSSp, general assistant, who presented a contribution from Superior General Fr. John Fogarty, CSSp, entitled Responding Creatively to the Needs of Evangelization of our Times.
According to Jean-Claude, “the crises of today are a time for discernment; one example is global climate change. It is a Kairos moment – choose life or death; it is easy to become cynical and paralyzed and incapable of choosing – we must be believers in the God of life.”
Fr. Gittins challenged attendees that speaking about the intercultural community “is not optional; but it is imperative that we come to be communities that are radically welcoming. This requires intentionality and conversion. Our current model of community can be dysfunctional and leads to fragmentation and tribalism. A harmonious community is always at the service of mission.”
In Fr. Fogarty’s message he tells us that the increasingly international and intercultural character of our worldwide community is not simply an inevitable consequence of the geographical spread of our commitments, but that it is integral to our mission as Spiritans in the contemporary world.
During regular break-out sessions and group discussions, Spiritans from all three provinces shared their reflections on their personal journey and the story of their province. They reflected on the fact that all three provinces are international in scope and history, with an emphasis on charity and education.
Among the challenges discussed were to develop a sense of unity internationally and multi-culturally, while seeking to live the Gospel message personally and to proclaim it to others through a common vision.
Also stressed was the importance of human dignity and the necessity of working towards peace and justice for all through relationships with God and each other. One of the topics of concern for attendees was the current refugee crisis in various parts of the world.
Following are personal reflections on the assembly by a participant from each of the provinces represented at Granby:
“For me the Granby meeting is a great sign of the Holy Spirit. The enthusiasm, energy, joy, and above all the reminder of who we are and what we must continue to be was evident. We have experienced concretely our Spiritan motto “Cor unum et anima una” – Fr. Augustin Kasongo Milamba, CSSp, provincial superior, Province of Canada.
“I was touched and encouraged by the willingness of all at Granby to embrace the need for personal and communal transformation. The challenges of creating intercultural communities of radical welcome will be many but so will the rewards.” – Joy Warner, Province of TransCanada.
“I’m both excited and uplifted by the powerful sense of openness and honesty among us this week as we address the situation of our North American provinces today. This sense of hope that we are discovering together in the face of these crises have given me the strength to see real positive possibilities in these challenges as we move into an intentional, intercultural community.” – Fr. Dave Cottingham, CSSp, Province of the United States.
As attendees returned to their home provinces, the group believed that the Spiritans Beyond Borders gathering in Granby created a true way of hope which all the members of the three provinces are invited and encouraged to embrace, always allowing themselves to be guided on this pilgrimage by the Holy Spirit.