After the bountiful week in Belfast, calmer days in the rest of the country awaited us. When we woke up in Dublin, the plan was to make a family visit to our Redemptoristine Nuns. And so it was. From the time we entered the house until the time we left, all we could feel was the warmest welcome. The table was set up with a cup of tea and a slice of cake and little by little the community, full of smiling faces, entered the room. The conversation flowed with great ease and the subjects alternated between the sharing of vocational stories and the challenges we are currently facing. All the while, two names kept coming up again and again during this morning: Alphonsus (de Liguori) and Celeste (Crostarosa). We are together from the beginning.
These sisters of ours have a ready laugh, which is a common trait in happy people. As cloistered nuns they are continually in service, they are either praying or working. Apart from preparing the Eucharist bread, painting candles and postcards and being blessed with musical gifts, what amazed us most was their work in icon writing. What beautiful Scriptures our eyes have seen. The Scripture made icon. The God of the plentiful redemption announced this way.
We are indeed a large and beautiful family.
Our last stop in Ireland was Cork. Because the community there is smaller we could experience greater communion among all, and that made us feel at home. Maybe it also helped us to get to Cork on a Sunday afternoon with two great Hurling matches bringing the confreres together in the living room, showing great excitement (especially Father Dan’s because of Limerick’s win)! In the community we also had the chance of meeting two young Germans, Fritz and Michael, who are participating in the volunteer program run by the Redemptorists in Bonn, which has had great impact on the community atmosphere.
During the two days we were there, we had the opportunity to see a lot of life happening. The SERVE Association, which was born here and is based here, has several development support projects in some of the world’s poorest countries. There is ongoing contact with local projects, and the Association sends volunteers to work and collaborate for a certain period of time, depending on the skills of each volunteer and the local needs. Initially, it was Father Gerry O’Connor who took much of the responsibility for this work with the support of the province of Dublin, but at the moment, SERVE is an Association with its own management and action plan. The work is distributed and carried out by different lay people who, in partnership, dedicate their lives to it.
In addition, for more than 25 years, this community, with the decisive collaboration of a good number of lay people, has been developing a youth-oriented leadership training program. The most visible aspect of the program is the deeper and more comprehensive training week that always takes place after Easter, in the last school term. But the success of this project lays in the work done all year round with the young people from 24 different schools of County Cork, acting in their school context, in partnership with teachers and principals of these schools. It is a vicinity action, enabling the training to gain flesh in the concreteness of the days.
Young people who wish to participate in this program must apply for it and undergo a selection process, which seeks to create heterogeneous groups in terms of profiles and skills. Not only the most intelligent, nor the strongest are accepted. This is not the logic of this program. This program seeks to train young people, drawing inspiration from prophet Micah, so that they become people of justice, compassion and humility. Training leadership following the inspiration of a prophet is a great challenge: it involves casting away biased outlooks and closed minds; it implies denouncing what is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus, and it should nourish the desire for humanization and solidarity in them.
In this house, in Cork, it is believed that justice can build a world in the way of Jesus. In this house, in Cork, it is believed that working in partnership is essential to go further in building the Kingdom of God. In this house, in Cork, it is believed that prophetic leadership is a way of taking action and influencing the world we live in.
We too share these beliefs!
We’ll see you around,
Zé ku Teresa