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

In my own experience the cultural differences are not the hardest.  We expect them to be there even if we are sometimes surprised by and trip over them.  The differences of personality and temperament – realities that are present in each culture - are much harder to deal with on a daily basis.  On one occasion I spent the better part of a year as part of a group of 18 of us.  Within that group there were 2 sisters each from Nigeria, Japan, Germany, India and Ethiopia as well as a smattering from other Asian, African and European countries.  In each instance, the personalities and temperaments of the two from the same country were so different as to wonderfully break down any national stereotypes that we might have had of each other.  And isn’t it tempting to say that people with a common nationality – are the same?  Of course there are certain cultural traits, but how many variations on a theme!

It seems to me that the most important element of any cross-cultural community project is the attitude with which we approach it.  Do I believe that each culture is good even if I will always be more at home within my own?  Am I comfortable enough within my own culture so as not to be threatened by another’s?  As obvious as it may seem it helped me the day that I realized that each culture, including my own, is in need of evangelization in the deepest and best sense.  There is no need to idealize away our sins and shortcomings.  We are all in need of redemption.  Most importantly, in crossing our cultural boundaries it is important to not only be willing, but actively desirous of learning from the other, to be convinced that the other has something to reveal to me not only about themselves but also about myself and God.

Tre Fontane studentsTre Fontane students

 I have learned so much by simply being part of such a diverse community.  I have especially learned that my way of seeing the world is very relative.  I have been privileged to visit or live in other countries and cultures and this has changed the way I see the world.