Our visit to Liverpool took place during the Weekend Conference of the Redemptorist Lay Associates of the Province of London. That was actually the reason for our visit. The religious community was very welcoming and we talked about the visits that some of them had already payed to Portugal or the fruits of the mission. Father Andrew Burns showed us the very first replica of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour to leave Rome, and Father Tony Hunt, cheerfully told us lots of stories covering the 40 years he lived as missionary in South Africa.

We had the opportunity to pray, to celebrate, and to eat together. We soon began to understand that being at the table usually gives place to good conversation. On the first night we shared the table with Frances, a lay woman we had met in Rome before, and Andrew. In the days that followed, tables began to grow in the number of seats: from the religious community to the big table shared by all the participants of the meeting.

These were the days when we had the opportunity to give a big hug for the first time to Anne Walsh, a Lay Missionary of the Most Holy Redeemer from Canada, who was guiding the meeting’s activities. We had already talked with each other through video-calling and have kept the lines of contact open, but the meeting itself and the touch had been missing until that moment! Anne, by her choice of words and by the way she expresses herself, reveals her fidelity to the Redemptorist charism, and thus she quickly becomes a true witness to those who hear and see her.

Lay people from London, Perth, Birmingham and of course Liverpool took part in this meeting. Father Maurice O’Mahony, coordinator of the Partnership In Mission dynamism in the Province of London also participated. He is a truly joyful and a fully committed presence, he is always ready to support the journey with all enthusiasm. In some specific moments other confreres joined in; they too were keen in being witnesses of Hope.

When we were together, Anne told stories and anecdotes, shared curiosities and talked about the roots of the family envisaged by Alphonsus. From the beginnings to the present day. She talked about the pillars of the Redemptorist spirituality and she felt confident about how the Congregation is allowing for the Spirit to open new ways. As the days went by, there was an increasing identification with Anne’s words and a desire to dream again.

During these days we witnessed a group of committed laymen and women from different communities of the Province of London becoming more willing to convert themselves to Jesus, following Alphonsus’ charism. We have seen a group of people who are prepared to be at the service, but at the same time they are trying to refresh and adjust their lenses so that they can leave a truly Redemptorist imprint in what they do. We sensed that they already recognized that the Redemptorist charism entails a special way of being a Christian in the world today.

Doubts, worries, and fears were, of course, present, and we tried to discern the next steps. It became clear that the Partnership In Mission between lay and religious is a wish of all and that the Redemptorist charism is experienced by many. “Do not be afraid!” said Brother William in his heavy Scottish accent at one point. And it was as though he was making a prophecy.

We’ll see you around,

Zé ku Teresa


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