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Reflection on the 18th GC Statement - Intercultural Living, No.31.32

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If we ask people the question, "Who are the SVD's? We often hear the answer: "They are missionaries who come from various parts of the world, who live and work together, are very happy and walk among the people.

They live and work together with joy, even though they are from different parts of the world.

This community's theme might go unnoticed if it were not for the recent experience of confinement that has forced us to live more intensely inside our homes. We felt again the joy of being able to pray together, share our gifts in the house's services, and share a little more of our dreams or projects. But we also got tired of the routine and the living together close to the other's limits and oneself.

For us, Divine Word Missionaries, community life is already a mission and is a shared responsibility of all members. The community must be created with awareness and nurtured as a space for renewal and transformation. But this only happens when we discover it as a spiritual environment.

In the same way that we build our inner spiritual environment, we must do so in our communities. That's because our spirituality is communitarian, like life itself in God.

The seeds of renewal and transformation need fertile soil to grow. It will always be challenging to witness to the joys of the Gospel and the Kingdom in a renewed way if the environment in which we live does not do so. Our community of life and mission is a witness to what we are.

We must always and increasingly choose fraternity, creating a safe space where forgiveness and reconciliation can happen. New times require new attitudes. I believe it is time for a new agreement or covenant for the good of our communities. In other words, we must, once again, decide to live well in the community. It includes the acceptance of the consequences of this choice.

It is possible to generate friendship between us. Dialogue, reciprocal learning, and teamwork are necessary elements for our coexistence and food for the bond that unites us, that is, the love of brothers. Our particular mark is interculturality, which is part of our response to God's call for the mission.

Our community is not only a proclaimer of the Gospel but also a receiver. To receive the Good News of the Lord is to welcome joy, the gift of the Holy Spirit. That joy will be full to the extent that we live to love, expressed as a charity, friendship, and brotherhood.

At the end of all this, our community can be transformed into a space of consolation, where wounds are also healed.

If during this period of uncertainty and confinement we stayed at home, living in our SVD community or if we were in another place and wanted to return to our own community, both are good signs that we continue to build spaces of life and renewal that are part of our missionary testimony.

People are surprised to see us together since we come from so many different parts of the world. People are happy to see our capacity to create fraternity, and people know if we are living well. May our testimony always be edifying for the people with whom we are sent to live.

Fr. Anselmo Ribeiro, SVD/Rome


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