By Fr. David Purcell, Fr. Ciro Perez, Fr. Bill Comerford and Fr. Anthony Nguyen Van Dung
We are now at the end of our course on Redemptorist History and Spirituality. We decided to each take a turn at providing a contribution to this article for Community Connections.
From Fr. David Purcell:
Certainly Celeste, Alphonsus, Gennaro and Gerard and other early Redemptorists were interested in fashioning their individual lives into memorials of Christ. But as I read through some of the early documents I was more vividly reminded how they wanted the community as a whole to be a living memory of Jesus Christ. For example, in one of the early practices of the Redemptorist community, we find that they kept silence for three hours after the midday recreation “in memory of the three hours that His Divine Majesty hung living upon the cross.”
I am deeply moved as I look around at our group on this course. I see that despite our difficulties and debates about how to implement or how to make our communities into living memories of Jesus Christ, there are men and women from around the world(!) dedicated and devoted and striving heroically toward that goal.
Secondly, when I look at the cities that are settled in low lying areas or near ports, there are lots of people and resources close together. When I try to walk anywhere around Ciorani or Scala it is with difficulty because I am either going up or down a hill and soon come to steep inclines. Travel is difficult through these mountains. Even though today the roads are paved and the buildings more modern, one still senses the lack of resources available to the small towns that climb their way into the recesses of the mountains around Ciorani in the time of Alphonsus.
I am reminded of places like Branch, in Newfoundland, or Grande Cache, in Alberta. I have a much more grounded idea of what our early confreres meant by the abandoned people to whom they have called us to serve.
From Fr. Ciro Perez:
I would like to say thank-you to the Provincial Council and all the confreres of the Province for this opportunity to take the Redemptorist Spirituality Course.
This course was very helpful for my personal and community life. It has already had a positive influence. For example, the course has been a great encouragement and renewed my enthusiasm and energy for the apostolic life.
This course was very exciting because it reminded me of my own missions that I preached in different parts of Colombia. When I visited Ciorani and Deliceto they reminded me of the times that I preached in villages where there was no power, and many people farmed without much help from machines or modern technology. The people were very interested in the life of the Church and came with a hunger for knowing Jesus.
When I visited Naples, I was reminded of the times I preached in big cities, like Bogota, Buramanga, and Cali. Like Alphonsus I preached in very wealthy parishes but also in churches that were very poor. During one mission I slept in a bed that was very uncomfortable and with no air conditioning; and then the next week, I slept in a place that had air conditioning in the house, a jacuzzi in my room, and an electronic gate at the end of the driveway.
I have also been enriched about how to work with immigrant people who make up the parish that I serve at present. I feel very good working and living in the Saskatoon community. We serve people who are in need at many levels. We serve their family, their psychological, their religious, and many of their material needs.
From Fr. Bill Comerford:
“Can he walk?” was the first question Father Serafino, the director of the Spirituality Course, asked Father Mark when he heard that a 77 year old had applied for the course. Although I did have the heart surgery not too long ago, I was able to participate fully and hear the learned and inspired teachings of the course and see the sites that relate to our historic past.
We – 33 participants from 18 different (vice)provinces – met so many wonderful people. Also we loved the beautiful Italian countryside surrounding Materdomini and Ciorani where we stayed. The Italian people and our confreres were most welcoming.
From Fr. Anthony Nguyen Van Dung:
The Redemptorist Spirituality course, organized in Rome in July, 2013 for the group of English speaking confreres from different units, is over, and I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all of you and to note some remarkable fruit I have gained from the course.
First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to you for having covered all my expenses during the course, and for having done so with all your generosity and kindness to provide me with what is important and necessary for me to return to the source of our Congregation and to enter the heart of our Congregation. Thank you very much for caring for me, empowering me, igniting my passions since I came to Toronto to pursue further theological studies, and for now sponsoring me to take a Redemptorist Spirituality course to enrich my understanding of the history of our Congregation and deepen our Redemptorist Charism and mission in today’s world.
Especially, I would also like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to all the confreres at Redeemer House. Thank you for your warmest welcome and fraternal love since I came to Canada. Thank you for being willing and wholehearted to assist me to adapt well to a new environment since I came over here. Thank you for supporting whatever I need before I went to Rome to participate in the course. Particularly, I want to express my sincere thanks to Tom, Joe and Santo for extending yourselves far beyond your main job to help me get well-oriented before I left for Rome. Thank you for trying to help me figure out how to manage what was needed for the course. Your own experiences of participating in the course some years ago has really been helpful to me. In a word, thank you for modeling patience, honesty, wisdom, and passion.
Regarding the course I have participated in, I could happily share with you that it covers all aspects of our Redemptorist Spirituality and Charism. Indeed, the professors helped me summarize and synthesize what I have learnt and lived in terms of our Redemptorist Spirituality since I entered the Congregation. They have provided me with a huge knowledge of Redemptorist origins. Especially, they have led me to “taste and see” the original stream of our Redemptorist Charism.
However, the course schedule was a little bit tight. I had to rush to classroom every day to grasp an understanding of every aspect of our Redemptorist Spirituality and Charism, but spent little time meditating on it. Hopefully, coming back to Canada, I will spend more time reflecting upon what I have grasped.
Anthony expresses here on behalf of us all, the deep gratitude we feel:
Once more, thank you very much for your generosity and kindness, for everything you have done for me and will continue to do to help me become a good and true Redemptorist.
We all add a thank-you to those who are looking after the community and the apostolic work for us back home while we are in Italy.