English- and Spanish-speaking Partners in Mission gathered at the bilingual session at the Parish Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn.
After a process of ample reflection and dialogue, one of the decisions made by the 18thBaltimore Provincial Chapter from Monday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 21, 2023, was the recommendation “to the communities of the Province that they review the sections of the North American Conference Ratio relative to Partners in Mission (PIM) with the goal of forming a circle in each community or parish, where feasible”.
In his letter to the Province after the Chapter, our Provincial Superior, John Collins, invites us “to more intentionally engage our shared commitment to promote vocations and to establish Partners in Mission (PIM) circles in our apostolates and communities through our joyful witness to the love of God as a religious community centered in Christ and by our closeness to the people.”
Significantly, before the autumn of 2022, in different communications and Zoom meetings, Fr. Francis Gargani, C.Ss.R., and our Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer, Lucy McNamara, had already been motivating the initiation in the Province of Spanish-speaking groups using the terminology used in the Spanish language Directives and Ratio from Rome, that is, Misión Compartida (MC).
After much strategic preparation, an initial session of a Spanish Misión Compartida was held in the Parish Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn on the evening of March 27th. Twenty-eight parishioners participated in this initial convocation. Also, to take advantage of this timely incentive, an invitation was made to the English-speaking parishioners to revitalize the already present and active PIM membership. Another 18 parishioners responded to the invitation.
The sessions were extremely lively and joyous as the two groups met separately for an hour and then gathered in a bi-lingual session to listen to Lucy McNamara’s testimony of what her association with the Redemptorist has meant for her and her family. A prayer of discernment to the Redeemer’s call to participate in the PIM/MC formation was recited by each participant in their native language at the end of this graced evening. Monthly, one-hour formation meetings are presently being prepared and will begin after Easter.
Noteworthy about these two encounters was a dynamic where the participants placed on a “post-it” one or two characteristics that they have noticed of the Redemptorist life and mission as inspired by our spirituality and charism. As all the contributions were placed on a bulletin board, one of our younger confreres deeply impressed the participants with his spontaneous statement that these qualities were what he would have said of the Redemptorists in the parish where he grew up. He paused again for a moment, and you could see the energy flow through him before he directly faced the group, saying, “This is why I became a Redemptorist!”
The unified Redemptorist community support of PIM and MC groups in the Parish was evidenced by the active participation of all the confreres in these two sessions.
The presence of two parishioners, invited by our confrere, Fr. Song You, C.Ss.R., of the Chinese community, was an intentional sign of the future formation of a third group integrated with members of the dynamic, growing Chinese community of the Parish.
After the event, the Religious Redemptorist community reflected that this initial PIM/MC encounter has given new meaning and emphasis to the Congregation’s sexennial theme, Missionaries of Hope, In the Footsteps of the Redeemer.
Fr. Michael Cunningham, C.Ss.R.
Fr. Clement Krug, C.Ss.R.
Fr. Manuel Rodríguez, C.Ss.R.
(the article was published in “The Baltimore Beacon” too)