Almost two years after the official opening of Clemenspoort, the Redemptorists in Ghent (Belgium) continue to open the doors of this house and welcome those who want to visit it. On the weekend, from 20th to 22nd September, they received a visit from Redemptorist Father Pawel Drobot (Poland) and four Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer of Portugal: Célia Bonifácio, Rute Santos, Teresa Ascensão and José Silva Oliveira.
The weekend began with a Thanksgiving evening for more than 80 volunteers who regularly work on this project. After we had dinner together, it was time to remember everything that happened in Clemenspoort during the last 12 months. Remember and celebrate!
On Saturday morning, it was time to get to know the whole complex where this project is located, from what still remains of the old church to the university residence where 500 students live. Ilse Spiloes, one of the lay people working on this project, prepared a guided tour of the main building, and Father Andreas Krahnen, one of the confreres living in this community, told in more detail the history of Clemenshuis: a cohousing building where the religious community lives (2 confreres) with other lay people (some of them are part of the Redemptorist Family).
In the afternoon we sat at the same table to watch a presentation prepared by Walter Van Wouwe, a Lay Redemptorist Associate from the St. Clemens’ Province. Walter told the story of this project, from its initial idea in 2005 to its opening in 2017, as well as the work done in these first two years and a glimpse of their vision for the future. At the end of the presentation there was a time for everyone to share the joy of learning more about this new missionary initiative in central Europe.
On Sunday, the First Day of the Week, all we did was to share different tables. The breakfast table in the religious community, the Eucharist table in Bronkapel and the lunch table at Ilse’s place, where so many nationalities were united by the same missionary charism and a delicious barbecue accompanied by the famous Belgian beer.
We all agreed on the importance of having a weekend like this: getting to know other Redemptorists, sharing different missionary experiences and thus inspiring new ways for the proclamation of the Gospel. After such a weekend, we are no longer the same: neither those who leave nor those who stay. The many shared tables and the many hours of conversation about mission lead to the creation of new bridges of partnership in mission, not only between religious and lay people, but between missionaries from different Provinces. Therefore, it seems important for us to create more of these opportunities, even on a larger scale, so that the Missionary Body we form can be strengthened.
Célia Bonifácio, Ilse Spiloes, Ives de Mey cssr, José Silva Oliveira, Pawel Drobot cssr, Rute Santos, Teresa Ascensão and Walter Van Wouwe.