Building True Communion in 2014

2nd January 2014 - by Stephen Awre

Fr. Tom O’Reilly, Regional Director of the Columbans in Britain, welcomes the arrival of the New Year and invites all to join in building true communion, which is the goal of mission and the focus of Columban missionaries around the world.

The following New Year letter to you, our supporters, partners and benefactors, is printed on the inside cover of the Columban Calendar 2014.  To request a calendar, either for yourself, family or friends, please contact Stephen Awre on 01564 772 096 or e-mail to: 

Dear Columban Friend,

On August 28th 2013, the world commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the memorable speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.  The speech was a defining moment in the American civil rights movement and it has since inspired countless people to work for a better world.  Dr King spoke of the dream that energized him.  “I have a dream that one day… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Dr King’s dream was rooted in his Christian vision.  His dream is the dream of our loving Father who invites all to sit at his table as brothers and sisters in one family.  We are made to live in harmony and communion with God, with each other, and with creation.  Jesus’ table fellowship with the outcasts of society was a powerful reminder of that.
As Columban missionaries reflect on the meaning of mission today, we focus on our call to communion.  The way we relate with each other in a multi-cultural missionary group should be a sign of the just and harmonious relationships we are promoting in mission. 

Communion is the goal of mission.  It means working for a situation where the rights and dignity of each one are respected and no one is excluded from the blessings God wishes for all his children.  It means promoting communion and harmony between people of different cultures and religions.  It means acknowledging our communion with the created world and caring for our exploited earth.

Seeing the bitter conflicts and environmental degradation in our world today, it is hard to be hopeful about God’s dream.  But, as Martin Luther King said, we must “hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope”.  God’s dream is being fulfilled through the passage of time. 

The Spirit of God is bringing people into true communion.  Empowered by that Spirit, we are each called to be agents of communion in our own place. So, perhaps our New Year resolution might be to make a special effort to mend a breakdown in family relationships, or to speak a friendly word with the neighbour who belongs to a different culture and religion, or to reach out to someone who is forgotten and excluded, or to do something to protect and care for our environment.

We thank you for the many ways you join with us in building true communion.  We pray that throughout 2014 you will experience the joys and blessings of communion with your family, friends and neighbours.

Fr. Tom O’Reilly SSC
Regional Director for Britain