By Josh Kinney, Director of Communications
Stepping out in faith into the unknown was a signature move of the Xaverian Brothers founder Theodore James Ryken. Marching onward with a trust that God would indeed provide, Ryken met many challenges, and grew from all of them. The tumultuous trials of 2020 have brought forth a Ryken moment for the Xaverian Brothers; one which calls for faithful steps forward amid uncertainty.
COVID-19 prevented the General Superior and Council from their scheduled visitation to Congo in April and from visiting the Brothers in other regions as well. Zoom video calls provided a unique connection that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Leadership adjusted to the challenging circumstances and as a community, placed their trust in God.
While acknowledging that technology can never replace in-person visits, Brother Lawrence Harvey, a member of the General Council, stated that “the ability to meet via Zoom with the regional councils in Congo and Kenya was very positive.” The technology allowed for simultaneous translation making these calls and the encounters with the Brothers engaging and productive. Monthly video calls among Brother Daniel Skala and the members of the General Council, greatly enhanced communication among the General leadership team.
The ability to connect with Brothers, Associates, and Partners in Mission over periodic and well thought out online prayer services helped create a sense of solidarity among the Xaverian Family. This has also opened the door for new communication methods to incorporate even after safe travel resumes.
“The leadership of the Xaverian family still connects with its members around the world to share their faith experiences and lives,” said Brother Dominique Omedjunga Olondo, who shared about manifesting God’s love during one of the services. “Zoom meetings and prayer services allow the Xaverian family’s leadership to continue to connect and support, encouraging us to share our talents, participate in building a diverse community, and cultivating a sense of belonging in the congregation’s mission while reminding us that we’re all fundamentally loved by God.”
Joy, happiness, and communal life in God’s love are just some of the revelations Brother Dominique has realized through the newfound connection. “I understand that the love of God is present, constant, and unconditional,” he said. “The Spirit of God is speaking to all members of the Xaverian family; therefore, we must hear how members live their faith in these uncertain times.”
A Foundation Day Online Prayer service celebrated with Brothers, Associates, Partners, and Benefactors, providing an opportunity to reflect on Ryken’s founding vision; celebrating how the Xaverian charism is lived out today. Amid tensions sparked by racial injustice, prayer service participants were invited to reflect on the Fundamental Principles that call us to give witness “to God’s care and compassionate love to all, especially those who suffer from want, neglect, and injustice.”
“We deplore racism in all its forms,” said Brother Daniel Skala. “This sin challenges us to raise our voices in support of the changes needed to bring about justice and compassion.”
In addition to navigating new technological means of connecting, the Generalate staff encouraged the congregation to take time to read together and reflect on the adversities that Ryken overcame to fulfill his vision in the digital version of Ryken’s abbreviated autobiography, “March On! God Will Provide.”
“While none of us could expect the challenges of this year, our charism continues to be a source of light and encouragement to all of us,” said Brother Daniel.