Portland Maryknoll Affiliates, Mary and Manny Hotchkiss, attended an African Sister Parish Conference in Seattle in Preparation for their trip this summer with a parish group to Tanzania.
Kevin Foy of the Seattle Maryknoll House presented:
Twinning and the Spirituality of Solidarity
By Kevin Foy, Maryknoll Mission Promoter
Opening question: “Solidarity” is a common buzzword in many church circles, but what
does genuine solidarity really look like, especially in a parish twinning relationship?
Vatican II gives us a new understanding of church and mission, which rejects paternalism
(“be like us and you will be saved”) and embraces the notion that we are pilgrims
traveling towards the Reign of God with our partners in the developing world.
What Does Solidarity Look Like?
In Called to Solidarity (1997), the USCCB states that solidarity:
· “…is action on behalf of the one human family…”
· “…binds the rich and the poor.”
· “…makes the free zealous for the cause of the oppressed.”
Each of these principals makes certain spiritual requirements of Catholics:
· One Human Family: We must strive to recognize that we are made in God’s
image, made to be “suitable partners” (Gen. 2:18) for one another, and need to
love our neighbors (all humanity) as ourselves.
· Bound Together: We must strive towards a genuine commitment to the
common good, not a “vague compassion or shallow distress” (Solicitudo Rei
· Cause of the Oppressed: We must strive to listen and learn from our partners
to work towards their goals, not our own.
Building a Spirituality of Solidarity: Requires Integration of Prayer and Action
Visits should occur regularly, with us visiting our partners in the developing world and
inviting them to visit us here (to the extent possible). Visits should focus on being with
instead of doing for. Reflect before each visit, “Why are we going?” Some of the
answers include: a) to continue to be converted, b) to see the world, ourselves and our
partners anew, and c) to strengthen our bonds with our partners.
Instead of judging our partners or rashly assessing what they “need,” we should step back
and learn from and about them. Here is a recommended reflection process:
· Observe and describe: Begin by simply putting words to what you see
· Emotional Inventory: Name and assess your own feelings about what you see
· Interpret Observations: Engage in a conversation with your partners about
why you see what you see
· Decide and Act: Discuss with your partners how you might address some of
what you see together
Outside of visits, we can work to build solidarity in the following ways:
· Share images and stories that assert the dignity of our partners
· Continue to learn about the structural causes of our partners’ poverty
· Continue friendly conversation with our partners (letters/email/etc.)
· Engage in reciprocal prayer (ask them to pray for your parish’s confirmation
class, for example, and ask them what they would like you to pray for