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During our recent small group meetings for the Archdiocesan Synod, it became abundantly clear that The Basilica community, like so many communities, in so many places, for so many generations, values listening and values being heard. We met new people; we gained new perspectives; and we deepened relationships. We agreed and disagreed, we were affirmed at agreements and stretched and challenged by opposing views. Those connections and encounters gave many of us new ideas to ponder, new faces to smile at in greeting, new people to care about..
“To speak of a culture of encounter means that we, as a people, should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone. This becomes an aspiration and a style of life….Implanted deep within us is the call to transcend ourselves through an encounter with others.” Pope Francis Fratelli Tutti
Encountering others can be a bit of a challenge in our large Basilica, especially in our COVID world; yet never have we been more aware of our need for each other and our need for real connection and deep conversation.
Recently, I was in a small group discussion with other staff, talking about situations of racism that permeate our culture, our cities, and our churches. We talked about that awful feeling of misjudging someone, making assumptions, often incorrect, based on race or appearance. A new voice spoke, “It is so hard to have it happen over and over again…even at your church.” In that moment, I was transcended, listening to a new voice, a very different lived experience. That small group experience created a new lens for me, an important new lens; the lived experience of my Latino colleague.
In his Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis speaks of Fraternity. “Fraternity between all men and women.” “Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation… We need a community that supports and helps us, in which we can help one another to keep looking ahead. How important it is to dream together…By ourselves, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams on the other hand are built together.”
Our Basilica is a community that supports and helps us; at The Basilica there is an energy for meeting and gathering in small faith communities, for dreaming together. Are you interested in being a part of a small faith community? Would you like to meet regularly, in person or remotely, to dig into Scripture or Catholic Social Teaching, Parenting, or Prayer practices? Are you already a part of a group through a book club, a prayer group or other Basilica ministry? For information on Basilica Small Faith Communities, beginning January 2022, contact the Learning Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.317.3414.
“Together we can seek the truth in dialogue, in relaxed conversation or in passionate debate. To do so calls for perseverance; it entails moments of silence and suffering, yet it can patiently embrace the broader experience of individuals and peoples…The process of building community, be it local or universal, can only be undertaken by spirits that are free and open to authentic encounters.” Pope Francis
Coordinator of Small Faith Sharing Groups
The Basilica of Saint Mary
This weekend 15 young adults are taking part in a retreat at St. John’s, which has become a bit of a tradition over the past few years for BYA. We typically go to St. John’s in the fall for a weekend to get away from our regular routine and enjoy some space for collective and individual prayer time, community and the beauty of the St. John’s campus. Last year we went to a local retreat center and did not have the entire weekend, so getting back for a safe weekend away has been a great blessing for us.
We always have a speaker for part of the weekend, and this year Sr. Michelle Lallier from the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls returned and spoke on the topic of “Seeking Peace in an Age of Rupture: Wisdom from Saint Francis.” Our hope was to gather some insights for our young adult community in particular from the Franciscan Tradition in this tumultuous time in our country and world.
As far as I can tell, these are some of the major questions surrounding young adults (and not just young adults) as we gather this weekend for retreat:
- What do we make of the “Great Resignation,” those who are looking for new work, those who have lost jobs and are wondering what their next career path is, how much “going to work” has changed in the last year and a half, and where is God in all of this change? How is God calling each of us to use our God-given gifts and talents in this particular time of economic upheaval?
- What would Francis and Clare say to the ongoing political divides in our families, communities and country? How are we called to live the “Prayer of St. Francis” in the midst of such discord, and how do we continue to work for the common good in what often looks like insurmountable gridlock, even sometimes in our daily conversations? Connected to this political division, what would they say to the ongoing social justice issues that we face around race and diversity, care for God’s creation, and the ongoing plight of immigrants and refugees?
- What would Francis and Clare say to the ongoing anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and the ups and downs associated with the Delta variant? How would they speak to the ongoing questions surrounding vaccines, booster shots, and now children’s vaccinations, along with the wealth of information (and disinformation) that surrounds all of these?
Perhaps the best thing we can do this weekend is simply rest and let go of these concerns, if only for a short while. God is faithful and promised to be with us through all of this, especially in our anxieties, fears and suffering. Or maybe the best we can do is what we did this weekend “up north”: take time out for intentional daily prayer, enjoy God’s creation with each other and support each other in community. We can do that on retreat and we can do that daily as a Basilica faith community.