Building & Strengthening Redemptorist Solidarity
by Kristine Stremel
More than 20 confreres and Partners in Mission (PIM) gathered for a ZOOM last Spring to offer insights and suggestions about building Redemptorist solidarity in preparation for the upcoming General Chapter in Rome. Participants unanimously agreed that the use of technology during the global pandemic helped build and strengthen solidarity between confreres and with PIM. Great appreciation was expressed for the collaboration and support of confreres and lay people committed to serving the mission in different ways throughout the entire world.
The importance of gathering was stressed. “Connecting with each other facilitates teaching and learning, as well as an open exchange of information and ideas. Group brainstorming is very helpful to resolve issues,” explained Lucy McNamara, who serves as the Baltimore Province representative to the North American Secretariat for Partners in Mission. “Documents from the General Government speak of the Redemptorist family, which implies an intimacy. We receive the nudging of the Holy Spirit from that intimacy.”
John Davenport shared an inspiring example that stemmed from the initial formation of the Circle of Associates in Tucson. Fr. Paul Coury, who conducted the initial formation of Redemptorist Associates, simply asked if anyone had any ideas about what could be done to help the Border Patrol and ICE with issues at the Mexican border. That simple act prompted the Circle to team up with the City of Tucson and Catholic Community Services of the Diocese of Tucson. The collaborative effort helped more than 13,000 people in a single year get medical screening and assistance, food, clothing and whatever else they needed to move on to their sponsors throughout the United States. As the border opens, the work continues for the Circle of Associates in Tucson.
According to Fr. Steve Benden in St. Louis, the enthusiasm of the Tucson Circle is an inspiration to other Redemptorist parishes throughout the Denver Province. “So often, we just think locally. Through the use of technology, we can get to know one another, encourage one another, and be advocates for one another,” he said.
Julie Worch, a Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer who has been working in various ministries for years, emphasized how powerful it is to come together focused on the mission. Fr. Byron Miller agreed, noting that focusing on the mission enabled the Redemptorist mission in Mozambique to grow and attract many vocations. He also mentioned that Mother Teresa’s Little Sisters of the Poor is very focused on their mission, and seems to attract more vocations and solidarity with their mission in the United States.
Several suggestions for building Redemptorist solidarity emerged from the discussion:
- Start a Circle of Associates at every Redemptorist ministry site, and promote participation in established Circles as a practical way to build solidarity and spread the Redemptorist spirituality and charism.
- Share what is happening throughout the Redemptorist world at every ministry site.
- Keep hearts open for new possibilities that can lead us into new directions because we don’t know where the Spirit will take us. We are all connected, and we need to maintain our connection.
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