Being in a Community of Cultures: A Reflection
While the dominant culture is anchored within the ideals and practices of Canadian identity, the trend toward a greater diversity has shored up the new wave of all types of challenges in our parish. The mainstream version speaks how peoples and cultures connect in the same, global village. But there’s one key element that creates a familiar cadence like a biblical rendezvous in human mobility: church. Italians, Portuguese, Hispanics, Brazilians, Sri Lankans/Tamil, and Filipinos have stayed true to their roots bringing to light the wisdom of their devotions and love for the church. Each of them has a gift to offer and share that forms the wealth of relationships.
It bounces along, pauses to ponder, and yet drives forward through people’s abiding witness to others. Their patience and perseverance are valuable assets to “discover new faces of Christ” as we increase our solidarity with other cultures and promote inclusiveness. These may include hospitality, listening to them, showing interest in them, or simply showing them with a smile and a cheerful outlook. In a similar vein, this enables us to sharpen our awareness of today’s missionary urgencies and for indicating how we can respond to other ethnic groups.
To understand other cultures, like the Italian or Portuguese immigrants, is to become aware of their needs and priorities, origin and background, popular religiosity, customs and traditions, and models of leadership. This enables us to make clear choices or develop our own principle that directs and unifies our cultural diversity as a graying community. Our priorities and concerns keep us to be creative and focused on what is essential in our own context.
Furthermore, our growing familiarity with cultural interplay of values and beliefs can be described like our Judeo-Christian source which is today the basis of our commitment to freedom and tolerance. The French philosopher Montaigne expressed it beautifully: “There never were, in the world, two opinions alike, no more than two hairs, or two grains. The most universal quality is diversity.”1
Fr Mark A. Escobar, c.s.
1 Michel de Montaigne. Essays of Montaigne, vol. 3. ( http://www.britannica.com/topic/390476/supplemental-information).