On 13 August 2015, SVD-SSpS Timor Leste held a One Day Seminar to celebrate 40 Years of SVD-SSpS’ Mission in Timor Leste, and to implement the 17th SVD General Chapter which focused on the theme of: Intercultural Life and Mission. The Seminar which was presented by Fr. John Prior, SVD was titled “Awake the world! Gratitude, Consecration, Hope in Intercultural Life and Mission.”
Quoting Pope Francis, Fr. John Prior invited SVD and SSpS to take a moment to reflect into the history of the congregations which includes some hardship. Particularly, Fr. John asked SVD and SSpS Timor Leste to recall the mission pioneers who first arrived in Timor Leste. The aim of this reflection is to know our identity and strengthen our bond as a congregation.
Fr. John rightly admits that we are living in a world of multiculturalism. We need to have a lot of creativity, a new imagination. For that purpose, we need to dwell deeper into the mystery of the Triune God: to live in unity in our world, Church and Congregations which are increasingly more diverse. The entire humanity is standing at a cross-road: to choose between going to Babel (Gen. 11:1-9) or experiencing Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).
According to Fr. John, we, as missionaries who live in a diversely-multiculutral world, need to have an Intercultural Competency. Such is a capacity for us to have the sensitivity towards, and to adapt to, similarities and differences (between cultures). This is a new way to experience, to communicate and to build relationships in a multi-cultural world. It is also a new way for us to learn how to shape a new cultural identity in our Congregations, in order to shape the same cultural identity in our society.
The Seminar was moderated by Fr. Kasmir Nema, SVD. There were about 300 people from various groups, including members of religious communities, lay people, as well as selected students from the Tertiary Educational Institutes in Dili. The Seminar began at 8am and finished by 3:30pm in the afternoon. (Fr. Kasmir Nema, SVD)