History was made on Saturday when 1,600 members of more than 20 new ecclesial movements and communities from around the UK, gathered together at Methodist Central Hall Westminster for a day-long conference entitled 'Many Streams - One River'.
The event came less than five months after the world meeting of ecclesial movements and communities with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Pentecost Sunday. Participants on the day - described as 'An A-Z of new life in the Church' included: Ascent, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Chemin Neuf Community, Faith Café, Focolare, Jesus Youth, L’Arche, Madonna House, The Maranatha Community, Mothers Prayers, Neo-Catechumenal Way, Schoenstatt, St Egidio, Sword of the Spirit, Sion Community, Teams of Our Lady and Youth 2000.
There was a strong youth presence and a lively programme including film, music, dance, mine, drama and short talks. Archbishop Nichols opened the day and thanked everyone present for the way they enrich the life of the Church, concluding: “I do hope that the Church may ever grow from the gifts given to you and through you passed on to so many others”.
Kevin from L’Arche spoke of his encounter with Edith, a person with multiple disabilities, whose life had been devoid of love. The movement's founder, Jean Vanier, says that to love someone is to reveal to them that they are precious. Over the years Kevin revealed to Edith that she was precious; that she was valued and loved. He said: “What is remarkable and life-changing, and potentially world-changing, is that Edith had become someone whose respect I needed; someone by whom I measured myself. Edith had revealed to me that I was precious, that I was loved.”
Celia from Focolare said: "Sometimes the movements are looked upon with scepticism or suspicion. Are they happy-clappy? Is it a frothy faith? Are they right wing? Or left wing? Do they take people away from the parish? In reality they enable people to walk in the normality of life in God, and to find their role in the parish or anywhere else.
Gary, from Schoenstatt, said: “We aren’t traditional, we aren’t progressive - we are Christians in a modern world. We want to help to build the Church we love, to support people in their faith, their hope and their love. We want to show that Christianity is more than a 'decoration'. It is a way to live, a different quality of life. I stopped being the person that took the odd collection at Church to being fully active and doing my bit. I learnt that it’s not just about doing the massive things, it’s doing a lot of small things that have the biggest impact.”
In unprepared comments, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor recalled the conclave in Rome, where he said had hoped a Cardinal Bergholio might become Pope, after hearing him speak about the need, in these days when life on the street has become so indifferent to God, for the Church to become less self-referential; to come out of itself. "Jesus knocks at the church from the outside but I think he is also knocking on the door on the inside. I rather think that is why he was chosen as our next Pope," he said.
Cardinal Cormac said it was significant that Pope Francis' first visit outside Rome was to meet the refugees on Lampedusa. "He sees God as you and I should. He see God everywhere. Pope Francis is a witness before he is a teacher."
He said Pope Francis has challenged the Church and each Christian to to go out, beyond themselves, because the world needs to meet God in order to find its identity, to find justice, peace and unity.
The Cardinal ended by saying: “I want to assure you how much the Church values you. The Movements are a vital part of the Church … And we are very blessed in our country to have all of you. It gives me encouragement.”
Note: We will be posting up some of the speech texts on ICN next.
See also: Many Streams, One River http://manystreamsoneriver.org/index.php?menu=1
Tags: Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Ascent, Cardinal Cormac, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Chemin Neuf Community, Faith Cafe, Focolare, Jesus Youth, L'Arche, Madonna House, Many Streams One River, Mothers Prayers, Neo Catechumenal Way, Schoenstatt, Sion Community, St Egidio, Sword of the Spirit, Teams of Our Lady, The Maranatha Community, Youth 2000
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate