By Brother Michael McCarthy | en français
It’s been two months since the Integration Team met in Rome, and I’ve been asked to share what feelings remain with me, and what questions might we have the courage to ask as we move ahead in the process of transformation.
As I sat around the horse-shoe conference table in Rome, and as I looked at my brothers from the states and Kenya and Congo, I felt very tangibly the love and appreciation each man had for his vocation. I felt each one’s desire to connect, to deepen their commitment not only to each other, but also to the charism and to our struggle to rekindle a flame of zeal for the future. I experienced that the foundation of our transformation is our friendship with each other.
I felt a deep sense of shared ownership for the Xaverian future. Equal voices were being shared. We were moving to a strengthened sense of being one village, despite the growing pains and questions that such a new realization initiated. I realized that we had a long way to go in our process of transformation to make that table a circle. I felt frustrated and inadequate to create a new wineskin for the energy and growing sense of identity that we were contemplating. Something new was happening and I couldn’t really name or contain it. What was I going to take back to the states?
I know that we need a new energy for an agreed-upon direction for mission and ministry, but we were not at that point yet in articulating it. But the energy was there. I asked myself how do we spark a process of critical thinking and honest life-review so we can discard some of the old wine along with old wine skin so we can embrace the new wine we were craving to savor?
I realize that we are beyond the ‘aspirational’ stage of this transformation process. We are in the ‘incarnational’ stage. And I ask myself what new expressions of our life and connectedness do we need to create to bring us more and more together? To be more and more responsible to each other and to the needs of our broken world? How do we break out of our long-accustomed individualized worlds and approach a new sense of WE again? Eventually including our associates? A we that transcends geography and language. We need to create initiatives that break through the status quo, challenge the inertia, the routine, the regionalism so that we can explore where and how to live our charism in a world that cries out for the giftedness we received from Ryken. I know there is no quick fix to still some of the restlessness I feel within me. Yet I wonder if several new inter-regional communities, grounded in our foundational documents and the gospel, addressing the needs of the poor and marginalized, could be one response.
What has stayed with me from the very beginning of this process is my conviction that it is only in small reflection groups, grounded in friendship and trust, that we can imagine the new life to which the Holy Spirit calls us. Do we have a number of Brothers from each region who will commit to such sharing? It is in these small groups that we can be vulnerable enough to let this Spirit bring rattling bones to new life. When the three regions share the fruits of their discernment processes together, then the shape of our meeting table can reflect the shape of our longed for one village, and truly be one circle.
My prayer is that we can be creative in our thinking and daring in our initiatives, so that all our aspirations bring forth fruit one hundred fold.