The Joys, Assumptions and Challenges of Intercultural Community Living

 

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald

Are you drawn to life in community?

Are you wondering if you could live with 5, 10, or 60 other women in the same house?

You’re not alone.  Most of the women we walk with in discernment feel a strong call to community, yet wonder what it will really be like and if they can truly live it.

It was the same for me.  When I was discerning religious life, one of the big draws for me was towards community.  I saw the sisters with whom I volunteered and interacted as having a loving, vibrant, faith-filled and healthy community.  I admired their dedication to each other and to their mission as Dominican Sisters.  As I celebrate my 25th Jubilee as a sister, I continue being drawn to live, minister, pray and be in community.

Community is one of the four pillars of Dominican religious life. When we enter a congregation, we never know with whom we will live and minister.  That is part of the great adventure of religious life.  Community is where I have found my greatest joy, reconstructed my assumptions about others and have been challenged to be truly welcoming and inclusive.  In our Constitutions (#18) we read: “Together we pursue our common mission, values, and goals. As members of a community, we share in a diversity of gifts and challenges, joys and hardships. We value the uniqueness of each sister and offer one another companionship and loving support. We celebrate our strengths, accept our weaknesses, and acknowledge our need for healing and reconciliation.”[1]

One of the great joys of living in a multicultural community is that we are all different.  It is in community that I have been challenged to try various cultural dishes, prayed in another language or in another way unfamiliar to me.  I have been enriched by the gifts my sisters bring to community.  I hope they have been enriched by what I have brought and shared.

We all come from different cultural perspectives formed by our ethnic, generational, national and families of origin.  As we mature, we become more aware that assumptions can cause many misunderstandings, hurt feelings and broken hearts.   One of the biggest ones is when we group people together and expect them to think and behave in the same way.  The way you interact with one person may or may not work well with another person. Therefore, like any human being, living or working with a multicultural community, on-going awareness and on-going learning are the keys.

As Dominicans, study is a primary part of our life.  St. Dominic taught that all of the members of the Order needed to study in order to preach, teach and to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel and to the life to which we have been called.  Last year, in community, we studied a book called, Living Mission Interculturally[2].  In that book, I discovered that there are a myriad of factors making up one’s cultural identity.  It has led me to see that getting to know others is a great adventure and offers an opportunity to be stretched, enlightened and challenged in new ways.  I thank God I was called to this congregation and have the opportunity to live and minister with sisters of many different cultures.

Are you open to living in a multicultural and intergenerational community?  Are you willing to cast your net out into the deep?  Then, contact one of us to begin your discernment or attend our  Come and See Discernment Retreat that will be held September 13 – 15, 2019 at our Motherhouse in St. Catharine, KY.  For the flyer and to register, click  here.

[1] Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, 2010.

[2] Living Mission Interculturally:  Faith, Culture and the Renewal of Praxis by Anthony Gittens,

Posted in God Calling??, News

5 responses to “The Joys, Assumptions and Challenges of Intercultural Community Living

  1. There are always challenges to living in community but as long as everybody is forgiving and loving to each other great growth can take place.

  2. Thank you and many blessings to you, June for this wonderful acclamation of living in a multicultural community. It is a challenge at times yet the lessons learned and the beauty of coming to know different people and cultures outweighs the misunderstandings at times.

  3. Sr. June,
    I identify with your sense of community and it’s nice to be reminded how it is such an integral part of Dominican life. I also appreciate the diversity of women attracted to religious life and hope to enrich my life by their presence.

  4. Excellent, as always! You make me think and that’s a good thing. Thanks for all your blogs. I really enjoy and learn from each one .

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