Multi-cultural Community at the heart of the vocation of the Little sisters of Jesus

If anything Magdeleine erred on the side of multiculturalism.  As soon as women from a country were professed (and sometimes even before!) she gave them leadership roles in the congregation.  She encouraged sisters from different countries, races and cultures to live together as a visible witness and sign that love can overcome the divisions created by our prejudices.  She quickly had sisters from different countries and races taking their place on the general counsel.

As a way of further encouraging this intermingling, formation sessions and theology studies were organized first in Algeria and later in Rome so all could have the experience of living together for a significant period of time.  Spending a year or two together from around the world, deepening faith and our common vocation, creates friendships that root and sustain us as part of a larger community when we return to our own little corners of the world.  As I said, Magdeleine was not a woman of theory.  She just went on and dreamed it into being.  She knew how to celebrate and rejoice in the diversity of cultures.

In Brazil among the TapirapéIn Brazil among the Tapirapé

Besides the correspondences born of friendships we have a system of circular letters, very concrete sharings from all over the world.  We know about land reform issues in the Amazon through our sisters who have lived among the Tapirape people for 50 years and the genocide in Rwanda had a very personal face to it with the names of our sisters and their families and friends.  I have lived with sisters from many countries and participated in their celebrations.  We have eaten each other’s food, sometimes with delight and sometimes just trying to get it down.  We learn to laugh and cry together whether from sharing about what goes on back home or through the inevitable joys and pains of learning to live together.

Being part of such a community has its challenges.  It is not simple to bring such diversity together, especially from peoples who may have a long history of conflict and misunderstanding.  These can be painful situations and trying to find a way through together can only be done through the heart of the Crucified One.  But finding a way is a Gospel imperative.

With friends from workWith friends from work