Fr Martin Leitgöb: We look forward to good cooperation. The Provincial of Vienna-Munich visited the Liguori Province.

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Father Martin Leitgöb, Provincial of Vienna-Munich, visited the Liguori Province of the Redemptorists in Kerala for six days at the end of January. The reason for the visit was the long-standing cooperation between the two provinces. Currently, six members of the Liguori Province work in the Vienna-Munich Province. Four of them work as parish priests in the diocese of Eisenstadt, and two as parish priests in the archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau. Another three members of the Liguori Province are currently preparing for a pastoral assignment in the Province of Vienna-Munich. It was therefore important for the provincial to get to know the background of his Indian confreres and to deepen the cooperation in meetings with the Provincial of the Liguori Province, Father Poly Antony Kannampuzha, and other responsible confreres.

Leitgöb: „For me, it was the first visit to India. I became increasingly aware that over the course of our partnership, we have, in a certain way, become sister provinces, characterized by mutual attention and solidarity. I am very grateful for this, because as Redemptorists we are members of a worldwide religious congregation. It would be an impoverishment if we were only interested in our own cultural and ecclesiastical context. In Kerala I was able to get to know a dynamic and vital province with many young and talented confreres. That gave me hope and a lot of impulses. At the same time, I also learned to understand more deeply how much our brothers in India depend on solidarity from our countries. Many pastoral projects, as well as the formation of young members of the Liguori Province, would hardly be possible without help from Austria and Germany.“

During his visits to several communities of the Province, including all the formation houses, the Provincial of Vienna-Munich was shown enormous hospitality. He also noticed the same thing during various visits to the families of some confreres: „Thanks to the warmth of my hosts, the cultural distance was always immediately eliminated.“ He also found his participation in a festive liturgy in the Syro-Malabar rite very impressive: „The one and a half hour-long service, the colourfulness of the symbols, the liveliness of the singing and the inner concentration of the participants on the essence of the celebration made me feel a great community in faith despite a liturgical language that was incomprehensible to me.“ Leitgöb’s summary of his Kerala trip: „I am grateful to my Indian brothers for having opened up their culture and religious tradition to me. A world that initially seemed very distant and strange to me became very close to me in the few days of my stay. At the same time, I am grateful that we have some Indian conferes in our province. Experience shows that contact with them in our countries is very easy and that they all have a high degree of pastoral empathy as well as cultural adaptability. So I am convinced that we will make good progress in our cooperation.“

Fr Martin Leitgöb, C.SS.R.

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