A call for renewal

Published on 18 Jun 2018
CLC gathering in Hautmont

CLC/CVX Euro meeting in Lille, France (Centre of Spirituality in Hautmont)

Michelle Ellison describes the CLC Europe gathering in Hautmont, Lille, a time for sharing and reflection.

This year CLC Europe held their meeting in Lille (Hautmont), between 1 – 4 of March 2018  for Presidents, Eurolinks and EAs of all the CLC national communities in Europe. This particular weekend was the infamous weekend known as the Beast from the East, in the UK. However, covered in prayer, we braved the elements and made it safely to Lille.

The theme for this gathering was a ‘Kairos’ moment: a call for renewal. The desire, was to deepen our awareness of our common community life in Europe, so that we may cooperate, contribute and respond to our call for the renewal of CLC World Community, ahead of the upcoming CLC World Assembly, in Buenos Aires. By using the DESS (Discernment, Evaluation, Support and Sending), Ignatian tool, the four days were jam packed with insightful talks for reflection and group time for listening and sharing. National teams were invited to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities and threats by considering the three pillars of; spirituality, community and mission.  There was also time for all Euro links, presidents and EAs from the various countries to gather together for sharing and reflection.

One of the inputs during this gathering was presented by Fr. Giuseppe Riggio SJ, who introduced the notion of welcoming a polyhedric vision of the world.   In his presentation Fr. Giuseppe reminded us that Pope Francis proposes the symbol of the polyhedron, as a vision for the renewal of the Church and the world, in contrast to the symbol of a sphere.  

An image of a polyhedron and a sphere

The Polyhedron shape he explains, is not a smooth shape like that of a sphere, on the contrary, it has various dented corners all connecting to the whole.  In contrast, the sphere has every point equidistant from the centre as if in a uniformity manner, however, unity does not mean uniformity. The polyhedron, explains Pope Francis, symbolises the kind of cooperative apostolate which he envisions, as it reflects the reality of the diversity and richness of all people, where every individual has his/her place within our world but still belongs to the whole.

 ‘It is the convergence of peoples who, within the universal order, maintain their own individuality; it is the sum total of persons within a society which pursues the common good, which truly has a place for everyone’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 236). 

Fr Riggio explains, that the reality of our world isn’t simple and harmonic, like that of a sphere, in fact it is very complex.  Today we are living in a world which has many diverse people from all over the world mixing with one another and trying to integrate cross culturally with each other.  These changes can bring about feelings of uncomfortableness and anxiety as it highlights clear differences between people, their various cultures and communities. However, irrespective of the difficulties these interactions may bring, it is possible to have unity amongst the diversity, plurality, and multiplicity, but not with our own strength but by faith and with the help of the Holy Spirit (EG 131).   

An image of an icon of St Ignatius with a candle and a polyhedron with writing on it

When we engage in the world we can often risk missing something or misunderstanding others as we cannot control or foresee every outcome or obstacle. We work in a fast moving world and this isn’t natural,  it calls for the need to slow down (Laudato Si' 18).  Fr. Riggio proposes the need to develop a solidarity amongst us and to grow and deepen our awareness of our responsibilities as we remind ourselves that, ‘the whole is greater than the part, but is also greater than the sum of its parts. There is no need, then, to be overly obsessed with limited and particular questions. We constantly have to broaden our horizons and see the greater good which will benefit us all’(EG 235). Moreover, in order to avoid imposing a monolithic uniformity there must be a willingness to engage in open dialogue, trust and respect. Every single element is unique and its contribution is necessary, as no matter how small or weak the contribution, it will make a difference and affect the whole reality.  Riggio suggests an alternative way of looking at pluralism and this is with a sense of partiality rather than of individual wholeness. Each one of us makes up only one part but together, irrespective of our nationalities, backgrounds and cultures, we make up the whole.  

This Euro meeting was my first experience representing England and Wales as the CLC Eurolink since my appointment last January.  It was a very insightful event and a beautiful experience of diversity. I met so many people from all over Europe with a common desire to connect together to form part of our wider CLC community beyond our national communities. The wealth of experience and willingness for deep sharing was heart-warming and extremely encouraging.   For me Fr. Riggio’s input  ‘Welcoming a polyhedric vision of the world’ was the highlight of the event as it affirmed my own CLC community.

A CLC group from Boscombe

These are the people from my CLC community in Bournemouth.  We have been together  for about 7 years as a CLC group, and we call ourselves the ‘Young Mums’, but maybe not so young anymore! Notice we have Fr Tony Horan SJ amongst us, who disguises himself as one of us, but doesn’t get away with it, so we call him Uncle Tony instead, as he is our greatest supporter.  What I especially love about our CLC group is its diversity, and this mirrors my experience in Lille.  In our CLC group we have a variety of nationalities; Japanese, Spanish, Polish, Irish, Maltese and off course British, from the North and from the South.  Our journey together so far has been dynamic, heart-warming and humbling and we feel strengthened together by the Holy Spirit.  I feel very blessed to be a part of this CLC group.

Looking to the future; towards the end of the  CLC conference, the Euro team, which is made up of 4 members from different European countries and an EA, have requested an invitation from any of the countries for hosting their next Euroteam meetings.  We as England and Wales have  promptly offered to host their team meeting here in Bournemouth. As a team they accepted our invitation and plan to have their meeting with us  in February 2019, when they will be planning for the next European Assembly due at Pentecost 2019. Louisa Bonnetti from the Euro team said to us “We enjoy the prospect of going to Britain and share with you the reality and prospects of your CLC community”. 

Michelle Ellison

CLC Eurolink England and Wales


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