Father John Korcsmar
went over to New Orleans for a conference on multiculturalism and
formation in religious life. Six of the Franciscan Sisters from
Dolores, San Francisco, and St. Francis on the Brazos (Waco, TX) also
One of the traditions
for the Sisters is to stop at one of the casinos in St. Charles, LA.
Usually they are able to leave the gambling industry a little poorer.
Just the hint of a visit from them has ripple effects on Wall Street.
Sister Jacinta Amengual (director of religious education at San
Francisco) played her nickel and won twenty more. Not following
Father John's example--he played a quarter and won five dollars in Las
Vegas a year ago--she started playing her nickels until she had lost
them all and then some.
The next morning, as
they were all getting into the van, Father John (who hadn't had enough
morning coffee) mumbled,
"I feel old!!"
quickly affirmed his statement. John told her that it was not
always necessary to so quickly agree with him.
The conference on
diversity and multiculturalism
was held at Our Lady of Wisdom on the
West Bank in New Orleans. Our Lady of Wisdom is located next to
the College of Our Lady of Holy Cross and the Marianites of Holy Cross
convent. It was built as a collaborative effort by a number of
religious communities for their elderly. There John ran into many
Marianite Sisters. Sister Beth presented John with a bar of priest-soap; this is to help him have a clean conscience. There
were no explicit causes expressed; perhaps it was meant for those
"just-in-case," or morally ambiguous situations.
One of the presenters
of the conference was Sister Anita Luna,
M.C.D.P. She had known
Father Len Collins when he was provincial and active on the Justice and
Peace Committee of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. Sr.
Anita asked about Len and said that he is a great man.
There were over 100
religious there attending the conference. At the start of it, 99
of those religious were female, and John was "Blessed among
women." Feeling a bit out of place John tried to humor
himself with the thought that at least the line for the rest room won't
be long for him. WRONG!! They have unisex rest rooms.
Josephite priest came in.
The conference was
really very good. Faith is expressed through cultural expressions.
We use language, faith expressions, and other concrete, visible objects.
When we make a statue of Mary, she will appear to be of one race or
another. When we choose music, art, popular religious expressions,
they are all rooted in one culture or another. More importantly,
each culture has perceptions, values, and judgments about what is good, beautiful, respectful, etc. These perceptions are learned
implicitly and are usually unspoken, even unconscious. It is in
this area where most cross-cultural difficulties arise because people
are often not aware of their own assumptions.
Since demographics in
the United States are changing, one of the issues religious communities
have to deal with is ethnic diversity. It is not unusual to have
candidates from Mexico, South America, Asia, Africa, as well as
different ethnic groups in the United States with roots in those places.
Superiors and formation directors have to figure out what the best
formation would be for a group of candidates of many different ethnic
backgrounds. One of the goals of the conference was to help people
to understand what it takes to move from mere tolerance of ethnic groups
and cultures to a celebration of their diversity in our religious