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An Enriching Experience of Interculturality in the Novitiate Community

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It is always better to contemplate, smell, and touch the diverse flowers in the garden than to limit life to a flat uniformity. The international formation community of Novitiate (2017-2018), which was formed by members coming from five countries (Sri Lanka, Uganda, Kenya, Philippines, and Bolivia) from three different continents, cultures, and languages, is a clear expression of St. Anthony M. Claret’s dream and missionary practice: “My spirit is for the whole world”. This global world has never been a flat uniform surface, but is a vibrant diverse one, although there have been many attempts during its history to force uniformity. Furthermore, when the Church is called today to construct real catholicity; just as Pope Francis pointed out in his address to the social movements in 2014: “I know that you are persons of different religions, trades, ideas, cultures, countries, continents. Here and now you are practicing the culture of encounter…. Among the excluded, one finds an encounter of cultures where the aggregate does not wipe out the particularities. That is why I like the image of the polyhedron, a geometric figure with many different facets. The polyhedron reflects the confluence of all the partialities that in it keep their originality. Nothing is dissolved, nothing is destroyed, nothing is dominated, and everything is integrated. Nowadays you too are looking for that synthesis between the local and the global”. With this universal missionary heart, as Claretian missionaries all are called to foster the polyhedron of intercultural missionary life.
Based on the experience it has had, the novitiate community has come to realize that the life of an intercultural community is something wonderful. But, at the same time, it is also an endless challenge. The seminar on “Intercultural Living” conducted in the novitiate community in March 2018, has helped the members to see the wonder and the amazing joy of this intercultural community, of being open to each other, learning from others, enriched with creativity, available to collaborate, trusting, having patience, etc. However, in living as an intercultural community, one encounters the following challenges: the language needed for proper communication, diverse cultural oral values, unconscious fears about others who are different and unfamiliar, and situations, time management, etc. So, the intercultural community living or building the polyhedron is a constant wonder and a process of learning to value the beauty of the diversity.

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