Kia tau te rangimarie ki a koutou. Last Tuesday we gathered at St Bernadette’s Hall Naenae, for a day of “Celebrating Cultural Diversity in Parishes”. Gathered for the day were Lay Pastoral Leaders, some Launch-Out candidates, Archdiocesan Staff, Hospital and Prison Chaplains and many of our Clergy.
The day consisted of three presentations in which Samoans, Filipinos and Indians shared something of there own culture, what their faith means and some of the particular cultural practices in ways they express their faith. Three kiwi priests who had worked in missions in Latin America, the Philippines and the Pacific Island also talked about their own experience and what they had learnt from living and working in another culture.
It was a wonderful day of sharing and I think it is safe to say we all learnt a great deal. In these days of our parishes being very multi-cultural this was an important day for us to be together.
We began the day by reflecting on the following excerpt from Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis. Whenever a community receives the message of salvation, the Holy Spirit enriches its culture with the transforming power of the Gospel. The history of the Church shows that Christianity does not have simply one cultural expression, but rahter “remaining completely true to itself, with unswerving fidelity to the proclamation of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, it will also reflect the different faces of the cultures and peoples in which it is received and takes root”.
In the diversity of peoples who experience the gift of God, each in accordance with its own culture, the Church expresses her genuine catholicity and shows forth the “beauty of her varied face”. [EG 116] I invite all of you to continue to reflect on this quote from Evangelii Gaudium and please remember that in the spirit of the encyclical of Pope Francis Fratelli Tutti on fraternity and social friendship, he is calling us to solidiarity, encounter and gratitude for one another. These find an echo in our lives and our communities.
May we all take up the insistant invitation of Pope Francis for dialogue, respect and generosity towards every human being.