Intercultural focus crucial for future of religious life

9 November 2019
Fr Tim Norton SVD speaks during a video for Catholic Religious Australia's Emerging Futures program. Image: CRA.


The Divine Word Missionaries, together with members of other culturally diverse religious congregations, are sharing their experiences of interculturality as part of a Catholic Religious Australia initiative to support congregations in preparing for the future.

The Interculturality: Leadership, Community Life and Ministry initiative is part of CRA’s Emerging Futures program.

It aims to engage in an inter-congregational space to develop possibilities that explore and educate about interculturality; develop, support and enhance relationships between different cultures; focus on leadership formation for younger members; and produce resource material to support and promote interculturality.

Provincial, Fr Henry Adler SVD, says the Divine Word Missionaries are one of the most multicultural religious organisations in the world, being present in 80 countries and with members from every continent.

“Multiculturality is in the DNA of SVDs,” Fr Henry says. “So we have the lived experience now over many decades, not only of living in an intercultural setting, but also of ministering and working in different cultures.

“In addition, our members have done much academic and pastoral reflection on the issue of interculturality.

“And so, we are very happy to share our experience with this CRA working group and to learn from the other congregations present as well, as to how they are living the intercultural experience that is now so much a part of religious life and will become even more so as we move into the future.”

The initiative is focusing on the two key areas of Intercultural Leadership, and Community and Ministry Life, and the group will produce a range of resources to help religious congregations consider some of the issues involved in these areas.

One of those resources is a short video clip featuring Fr Tim Norton SVD, whose current ministry in Italy involves running renewal programs for missionaries from all over the world, with a focus on interculturality.

In the video Fr Tim says that coming to grips with interculturality is crucial to the survival of religious life.

“For religious congregations, if we don’t take up this idea of interculturality we shall all die,” he says.

“There’s so much to learn, there’s a wealth within it and it can be very tough and difficult, even in things like how do we pray, what do we eat, how do we work together, how to we minister with certain groups of people? All of those questions would be important questions.”

Along with Fr Henry, the CRA Interculturality Committee includes Sr Gaye Lennon RSM, Sr Jenny Gerathy OP, Sr Meg Kahler SGS, Sr Melissa Dwyer FDCC, and Fr Peter Jones OSA.

They are assisted by a resource group including Fr Tim Norton SVD, Fr Frank Hoare SSC, Sr Geraldine Kearney SGS and Sr Helen Owens RSM.

With thanks to the Divine Word Missionaries.


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