Intercultural journey in religious communal life imperative in our times

Living as an intergenerational and intercultural community makes life colorful for us Sisters in the Maria Droste Contemplative Community. We range in age from our thirties to eighties. We represent four cultures: United States, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines.

Province Leader Sr. Madeleine Munday invited Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley, RGS, and each of us Sisters in the Maria Droste Community to attend a workshop on May 6, 2017. The workshop was titled “Religious Communal Living as an Intercultural Journey.”

The Religious Formation Conference sponsored the workshop sessions, which were held at Mercy Center in St. Louis. Fr. Pio Estepa, SVD, a Filipino priest, gave an impressive overview on the movement from “MultiCultural” to “InterCultural.”

We broadened our knowledge and understanding of religious communal living as an intercultural and intergenerational journey. Fr. Pio encouraged us to reflect on how we could go about such a journey with no road map and just an inner compass.

Multicultural and intercultural movement

This journey is inevitable and imperative in our times because of the impact of the globalization on the Church. The worldwide mission view is reversing and rerouting from North to South and East to West, becoming a multicultural and intercultural movement. The journey from Dreamer, Bloomer, Generation X and Generation Y is complex and challenging.

We live in a world of multiple and often complex systems of meaning, understanding and ways of being. At times it can feel as though different worlds are colliding and we are losing the ground under our feet. This is the reality in which Jesus calls us to be border-crossers.

We were asked in the workshop to share a border/boundary that we have experienced or that we are aware others have experienced. We no longer felt like strangers to one another as we listened contemplatively to one another’s reflections.

As part of their ongoing journey to better understand one another individually and culturally, the community creates art projects that incorporate reflections and prayers, personal affirmations toward one another and writing in one another’s language.

We heard commonalities and began to understand the meaning of what it is to integrate ourselves in a new environment. This will be an ongoing process for missionaries and their receiving communities.

What speaks to me individually? How do we sharpen communications skills? Everything must be based on a mutual trust. Many misunderstandings happen due to personalities and cultures. Is it personality or is it culture? We were told that there is a dominant culture and “others are guests.”

How do we transform this belief? Perhaps it begins with everyday simple living: appreciating other cultures, traditions, language, interactions with one another and even food preferences. We, at Maria Droste, are wholeheartedly investing our hearts and lives to this Journey of Transformation as an intercultural community!

Elizabeth Garciano

Elizabeth Garciano

Sister Elizabeth Garciano was the Local Leader for the Maria Droste Contemplative Community in St. Louis, Missouri, before taking her sabbatical year as a pilgrim. She also served as Vocations Director for the Contemplative Good Shepherd Sisters in the Province of Mid-North America.