Cross-Cultural / Interfaith Dialogue

Columban efforts to promote life-giving relationships between peoples of different cultures and faiths usually merge with their commitment to justice, peace and environmental issues. This is because migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are often found among those belonging to minority cultures and faiths. We strive to work with all in responding to basic human needs.

A team of six Columban lay missionaries (three from Chile and three from the Philippines) live and work in the Sparkhill area of Birmingham, which is very multi-cultural and multi-faith. In crossing cultural and religious boundaries, they develop friendly relations with their Muslim, Hindu and Sikh neighbours, visiting their places of worship to learn more about their beliefs and practices. They look for points of insertion to reach out to the vulnerable people of other cultures and faiths. Their ministry has a strong ecumenical dimension, as they work in centres run by different Christian churches. They also hope to be of some help to the Catholic community in Sparkhill as it engages with people of other cultures and faiths in its immediate area.

The Columban Parish of St Catherine of Siena in Birmingham is a multi-cultural parish, where we bring our cross-cultural experience to the challenge of building a Christian community where people feel included and relate across cultural boundaries in a mutually enriching way. Mission needs such communities in a world divided and in conflict along cultural lines. St Catherine’s – where Fr Jim Fleming is parish priest – hosts meetings for specific cultural groups and marginalised social groups. Eritrean Catholics, for instance, meet regularly in the parish. Interculturality is celebrated in a special way at an annual Intercultural Mass and an International Carol Service. St Catherine’s has an active Justice and Peace Group which supports Church campaigns on such themes as racial justice, climate justice, ‘terminator’ seeds and ‘vulture culture.’

In London, there is a long-term Columban involvement with the issue of migrant domestic workers, aiming for a society in which the migrant and the stranger are treated with compassion. Columban Father Aodh O’Halpin helped found Justice for Domestic workers (J4DW), the largest grouping of migrant domestic workers in the UK whose members come from Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and various African countries.

Columbans also celebrate liturgies regularly with Korean, Japanese, and Chinese communities in Britain.


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