On the 19th January 2015, the Comboni Missionaries of Waterfall and Acornhoek communities and the Sisters of Saint Vincent De Paul had a recollection day at Acornhoek. The theme of the recollection was: Community life and fraternal service. The recollection was facilitated by scholastic Charlemagne DOSSAVI Sitou.
He began by refreshing our minds about the life of the Church, especially in the Southern Africa, where the Church is still reflecting on the family. Furthermore, at the Institute level, we are heading towards the XVIII General Chapter, and the Church at large urges us to reflect on the theme of Consecrated life. In essence, it will be superfluous to talk about consecrated life if we do not look critically at community life.
He emphasised that ‘Living in a multi-cultural community means dealing on a daily basis with different ways of approaching the realities that make up the fabric of community life.’ Some fundamental aspects of our community life such as the very sense of community, decision-making process, attitude towards money, sexuality, ways of communication and working together, etc., are all lived differently, and can become the object of serious controversies in the community, especially if the outlook of the other person is not borne in mind.
One of the pertinent points which he underlined was that ‘each of us has got a particular gift or character through which s/he is identified. Perhaps this day could be for us a time to rediscover the beauty and the richness of our differences and praise God for it’, he said. The invitation for us was not to run the risk of working together for a common cause without knowing one another better. Therefore, we are called to share our personal history because there is no strong brotherhood, no strong sisterhood without knowing deeply the confreres or the sisters we are living with. Difficulties and misunderstanding will come, but we should face them with the eyes of faith.
He went further stressing that the community is like a bunch of flowers in a pot that gives joy to those who see it. This implies that our cultural diversity in the community and our rich variety of gifts must not be a threat to community unity. Instead, a community must be a venue where all find harmony and unity. According to Pope Francis, this unity is not about uniformity, but ‘a multifaceted and inviting harmony’. That is the reason why it is stated that ‘this variety does not harm unity, but becomes a source of greater fruitfulness, as it is given for the good of all’ (RL 37).
By Bro. Boniface Gbama, mccj