by Fr. John Wolf, C.PP.S.
“Enlarge the space for your tent…
Lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.” (Isaiah 54:3-4)
The second discussion on re-imagining community life focused on the question of how our relationship with lay associates (companions) might develop into a fuller communion. An accompanying question centered on community life in the context of a Mission House setting, given that this was the norm when our congregation was conceived. The majority of incorporated members continue to affirm the extent to which the companions have become integrated into our community life and spirituality. A fuller participation could mean more involvement in decision-making, more frequent gatherings with members for prayer, study and meals, and some connection with mission house living. Companions taking leadership in some of our province apostolates was also seen as a way of empowering them to fuller participation (e.g., the Precious Blood Renewal Center and the beginnings of a Precious Blood Resource Center).
The responses around the Mission House concept were varied. There are some elements of Gaspar’s vision that could translate for our times and culture, e.g., common prayer, study, meals, shared apostolates, mutual support, a welcome place for guests, evangelization and spreading our Precious Blood spirituality. We have some ministry sites in our province that could develop into a Mission House, but it would need to be intentional. It’s more than a residence; it’s an intentional mission.
Some expressed that wanting to embrace Gaspar’s vision runs in conflict with practicalities of our situation. We are small in number but that doesn’t mean we can’t be open to those who want to explore living together in a common house with a common mission and spirituality. The Vietnam Mission reported that there is some movement to establish a Mission House in a rural area near the Cambodia/Vietnam border.
The April discussions among the members are in the form of dyads or groups of three. The focus question centers on the essential elements and values of community life. Several articles from the Normative Texts on Community Life are given for reflection.