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Know Your Faith: Communion is important

Gerd Altmann | Pixabay CC0

Faith and Synodality is the latest instalment of the Know Your Faith series which began Monday, June 11.

The topic was ‘Communion’ from the theme of the 2022 Church Synod, Towards a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission. Deacon Hilary Bengochea was the moderator.

The four presenters’ discussion points and reflections were based on statements given by Fr Donald Chambers, General Secretary of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, during a retreat on Synodality.

Darrion Narine, Programme Coordinator, Archdiocesan Ministry to Migrants and Refugees, reflected on Fr Chamber’s reference to Matthew Kelly’s Life is Messy book. Fr Chambers stated, “In our messy, murky, and marginalised lives, God communes…God is not a bystander, God is an active participator.”

Narine said people did not realise how messy their lives were until the Covid-19 pandemic, which required introspection and interaction among family members, which probably did not take place before.

He said the pandemic brought a lot of things to the fore: a rise in domestic violence cases, conflicts, and relationships dwindling. On the other side, there was unity, family bonds got stronger, and people were more creative, exploring different sides of themselves.

People have come to realise in the messiness that lives are not perfect, people and church are not perfect. Narine commented, “The most beautiful thing to me is the fact, we all just realised our lives are not a steady line…but that the road winds in different ways…and we can have many turns and go many different places.”

One of the most important things, he said, is the attitude and “recovery” after something messy happens. Narine cited the point made in Kelly’s book and Fr Chambers’ presentation, about the importance of supporting each other. “We cannot really get through and accomplish great things in life without having people to support us, having a support team.”

Bengochea asked how migrants can be included in communion. Narine said people can have different languages and socio-economic backgrounds, but faith can bind and bring people together.

Using the example of the Venezuelan migrants as they are the largest group of migrants in the country, Narine said, “what we have seen is shared faith and shared faith community, that have come together to help these migrants integrate into wider society.”

He added the Catholic Church has been leading “on the ground” to implement projects and support systems for migrants, the majority of whom are Catholic. This support has spread beyond Catholics to others who “believe in God”.

Narine said one of the biggest challenges with the Venezuelan migrant community was the language barrier which may prevent them from integrating into society easily.

Roselyn John from Bourg Mulatresse Parish quoted a statement from Fr Chambers, “The goal of our journeying together is to be present with one another to listen and to learn and learn with each other and to grow closer to the Lord and His Church.”

She said this was powerful for church to become the Body of Christ. “In diversity, in differences, that to me is the character of the Body of Christ, so it is okay to be different, it is okay to have a different spirituality… for us to grow and walk together we must go back to the Trinity.”

She elaborated that church came from communion and union, between Father and Son, Son with Father, and then the power of the Holy Spirit. To learn from each other, Catholics must be at “the table” and be at Eucharist, every day if possible.

She said, “By coming to Eucharist then we have the chance of remaining in communion…of listening to each other… of growing with each other, allowing our differences to make our community a rich diverse community.” Individuals must be willing to put aside their selfish selves to walk “in union with”.

Deacon Nigel Thomas emphasised the connection needed for communion to happen. “We need to get to know our people outside of church, we need to get to know people in the community.”

He stressed that in synodality, people had to slow down from the busyness of life. “It is the human connection we tend to put on the back burner that really affects our relationships”, Thomas said. He reminded that salvation was not just a “me” thing but a “we” thing. Jesus’ sacrificial love must be shared and lived.

Deacon Simon Rostant said the words “contact” and “communion” resonated. He differentiated between contact, which was an “initial” encounter, for example, handing out a grocery hamper as a remedial measure. Communion went deeper, “getting to know the person, their financial situation, their children, what school they go to. We can then help in a much deeper way.”

Upcoming sessions on Faith and Synodality will discuss ‘Participation’ (July 18), and ‘Mission’ (June 25). The Know Your Faith series is a production of the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI), Archdiocese Office for Pastoral Development and Planning, and Catholic Media Services Ltd.