Going back to Ghent (Belgium) was like coming home. We really wanted to return; we had to. Our first visit was in 2017, when several doors began to be open in order to build a beautiful story (which is just beginning!) of partnership between two Redemptorist communities: Ghent and Porto.
Shortly after arriving at Ghent, Rute, who is also a Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer from Portugal, joined us. Everyone was already waiting for her and everyone had already met each other before. This visit had already happened in the opposite direction and, therefore, faces and names were by now familiar. After much hearing about this new project of the St. Clemens Province, Rute’s main goal was to get acquainted with Clemenspoort project first-hand.
Clemenspoort is an open doors project designed to welcome all people who pass by. There is room to be silent, to meditate, to be listened to, to study and to celebrate. The story is still short, but it has been almost two years now in which this project has tried to renew the way we understand the Redemptorist mission in an urban context. Less than 5 minutes away from the very busy Gent-Sint-Pieters train station, this is truly a new missionary presence in the centre of a large city.
Our days in Ghent were spent sitting at tables. Chatting leisurely in the centre of the city, when we were shown the sights. Eating together a delicious meal prepared by Father Andreas, eating breakfast in Clemenshuis with several lay people who live there, or at a barbecue at Ilse’s place. Sharing together the challenges and the steps that have been taken in the communities of both cities. Praying together and giving thanks for the opportunity we have been given of becoming brothers and partners in mission.
Rute brought questions. Our community in Porto is also dreaming of opening a door to offer a new missionary presence. Together we sought answers. There was a whole day for that. It was a good conversation between partners, with a cup of coffee in our hands, sharing doubts, worries, certitudes and confessions. If someone looked at us, he would see this: Partners in mission, Redemptorists, discussing and discerning ways of remaining faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel.
Basically, what happened was another meeting between two communities that are growing together. It is a relationship of friends, of course. But more than that, it is a partnership. This is a beautiful story of partnership. These are two imperfect Redemptorist communities, seeking support from one another, giving and receiving.
We have been given the grace to be able to experience it and see it happening and growing. Redemptorist partners FOR the mission. Whatever comes next can only be good!
We’ll see you around,
Zé ku Teresa