On the Journey Towards Universal Solidarity I recently spent a week in a small rural village called Sega, in Ghana, West Africa. My purpose was to establish a partnership with the local school where my organization, Intercordia Canada, hopes to place student volunteers. One day I met with about 50 parents, some of who would be asked to host our students for three months this summer. Mister Godwin, the head of the school, introduced me and asked me to say a few words about Intercordia. When I was done, Mister Godwin asked if any parents had questions. A small, older gentleman stood up, his back hunched, his skin wrinkled by the hot sun, and he asked in Dambe, "What are your first impressions of our community?" Mister Godwin translated as I described my time in Sega. I told them about my first morning and how the children had immediately taken my hand and led me through the village. As we passed people on the road, they recognized right away that I was new in town and most nodded or said "You are welcome!" Some enthusiastically took my face in their hands and said something in Dambe and then repeated "You are welcome! You are welcome!" I looked at the man standing there amongst the other parents and told him that if a stranger came to my neighbourhood, with different coloured skin, who dressed differently, no one would offer a greeting. In fact people might look at that person with suspicion and turn away. The old man looked at me with concerned eyes and said, "But, that is no way to treat a stranger". I humbly agreed with him. Then he said with conviction, "Then you must send your students, so that we can help to develop your community".
written by CLARA FRASCHETTI
Perhaps that's the answer to building community in our churches - to import catalysts from beyond the parish boundaries. Oh, hang on, perhaps that's part of the role of the clergy...to be catalysts for community. I like that.