by Br. Daryl Charron,C.PP.S., Director of Justice & Peace Ministry
In June 1994, the Commission on Membership compiled People of the Spirit, a workbook our congregation would use in the process of revitalization. A couple of months ago, the Kansas City Companions decided to revisit this twenty years old document. I was surprised to find how prophetic this document is two decades later.
At the outset, it said: “We are not about the work of change; our task is far greater, deeper, wider. We are about the work of revitalization. There is a profound difference. Change implies our adapting or reacting to forces that are beyond our control that tend to overwhelm us, frustrate us, bruise us. Revitalization is quite a different matter. It implies not adaptation but adventure; not reaction but action. Revitalization means we make our religious life vital again by tapping that energy force, that passion, that creativity that is within each one of us and bringing this to the surface in our relationships, our work, our prayer, our play, our listening and our loving. Revitalization implies transformation as we become new people in Christ.” This message of hope was especially inspiring to our group during the Easter season.
The candidates in formation at the time (including me) envisioned living in common, respecting and supporting diverse apostolates, and sharing prayer and encouragement. We talked about Mission Houses with Incorporated Members as well as Companions, men and women, married and single, living, praying, and working together. These houses would be in parishes and other places, and coordinate the talents of all living there. We thought we should continue living our way into a new way of being.
One of our priests envisioned a model of community that dispensed with an order of precedence by role or responsibility. Everyone would be equally important; every role and responsibility would be equally important in building up the community. Reasons for staying with the Community also surfaced: being on the cutting edge of issues in the Church. We were not satisfied with the status quo, and actively sought to make the Gospel message alive and vibrant in our world. It was said Gaspar envisioned a new model of collaboration of laity and clergy in the Bond of Charity and the charism of the Precious Blood.
Throughout the document, struggles with the issues of power and intimacy emerged. Twenty years later, we can ask some of the same questions. What issues of power and intimacy need to be addressed within the Community? Maybe it would be helpful to describe the kind of intimacy we are seeking in community life and tap into the primary sources of that intimacy.
People of the Spirit emphasized the equality of women in the Church. This especially grabbed my attention and reminded me of the Human Rights Initiative of the late 1990s from the Precious Blood Leadership Conference. I was on the hri Committee during a three-year initiative focusing on women’s equality in the Church. Companions said twenty years ago, “To me there is no question regarding women’s role in the Church. We are all equals in the Church with each one having their own role or function, “Women’s rights need to be addressed. Limits should be looked at with an ongoing openness,” “I would expect women to be woven into the fabric of community as strengthening and permanent threads,” and “I believe the blood of Christ does not differentiate between women and men but rather affirms the gift of life for all humans.”
I appreciated one of our priests saying, “There is injustice in the Church as long as women are not able to assume equal roles. The qualifications for ministry are gifts, talents, and education, not sex. We as a community can continue to promote the active role of women in the Church as a vehicle to bring about fairness and change. Very simply, we as a Church need the fullness of gifts from all people in order to truly be Church to one another.” I found this quote to be extremely insightful and prophetic. We need to continue to strive for this ideal today. It is a matter of justice and the Cry of the Blood calls for it. It is crucial to the revitalization of our Precious Blood Community and the greater Church.
The Kansas City Companion group found People of the Spirit still to be an inspiring and challenging document. As we discern the future direction of our Province and Community, we should use this prophetic book to help us focus on the needs of the Church and Cry of the Blood.