When the edge becomes the center

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Annual meeting of working group for Social Ministry of the Conference of Redemptorists of Europe

The working group for Social Ministry of the Conference of Europe held its annual meeting in March 2017 in the city of Bochum, Germany. After meetings in Luxembourg, Barcelona and Vienna, this place was chosen because of a new modest initiative for social ministry in the suburb Hustadt of this city. The Redemptorist monastery in the center of the city of Bochum was closed in 2011. In 2013, a cooperation of the Redemptorist Province St. Clemens, the Missionsschwestern MSsR and the diocese of Essen started this project in the outskirts of Bochum with three keywords: social, spiritual and in solidarity. The Hustadt is a neighborhood with a predominantly Muslim population from 50 different countries of origin, where ecumenism and interreligious dialogue are part of everyday life for a Christian minority. The Redemptorist presence in Bochum moved from the center to the edge.

During a visit to the Khaled Mosque and an extensive exchange with the delegate for dialogue of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Ahmed Aweimer, the group got an impression of the growing mutual trust across the boundaries of religions. The new pulpit for the mosque’s prayer room, built under guidance of Fr. Winfried Pauly CSsR, is a living testimony for this.

For the working group, the subsequent visit to a refugee camp and the playing hour with the children was an impressive experience. In 2016, the city of Bochum hosted up to 6,000 refugees.

Fr. Jacek Zdrzalek, coordinator of the Conference of Redemptorists of Europe, took part in the meeting of the working group. He could experience that the Hustadt is suitable for being in solidarity with the poor as a witness of Redemptorist spirituality and as messengers of joy in a multireligious and multi-ethnical society.

During the exchange of the working group also some guests were present. Frater Marco Limberger presented the Fresh X initiative (fresh expressions of church) from the Anglican Church, the theme of the final paper for his studies. This was very stimulating for the group as well as the reports on the social-pastoral activities of the participants themselves. In the evaluation of the working group, everybody agreed on how stimulating these exchanges have been for their social pastoral work in the last few years.

On the photo some of the participants (from left to right):

Imam Ahmed Aweimer, Fr. Winfried Pauly C.Ss.R. (Bochum), Fr. Guillermo Urquizo Vásquez (Luxembourg) C.Ss.R., Mr. Jelle Wind (Secretary of the St. Clemens Province), Sr. Ulrike Schnürer M.Ss.R. (Bochum) and Sr. Renate Drexler M.Ss.R. (Vienna)

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