A Day of Encounter
We enjoyed the sun-kissed days but today we were greeted by sister rain. We may not have welcomed her with open hearts as we were to walk the streets of Cork for our encounters with ‘the poorest, the lowliest and the lost’. Yet we set out challenged by the Eucharist to take nothing for the journey, and by Nano to “Go out! For need calls loudly in the winding lanes…”
With the blessing, “Let your God go with you” we journeyed on with zeal and anticipation, keeping ourselves open to all that the experience had to offer. We went through the winding alleys, crossing bridges, mindful of Nano who walked the path. For those of us who walked and got wet it was an experience of sharing in the lot of those who have no option but to walk in the rain.
In groups we went to seven centres where we experienced the work and listened to the stories of those who are working with the homeless, women and youth at risk, rehabilitation of prisoners, refugees, young people who find themselves outside the mainstream education system. We also encountered the women and men who are being cared for and supported by all the centres. The warm welcome received and the time given by the staff of each place to share with us their work and experience are deeply appreciated.
In the afternoon we gathered in our table groups to have conversation on “What happened to me today?” Further time was spent in stillness and Contemplative Dialogue on the focus question: “In the winding lanes of Cork in which you were welcomed/ through which you wandered today what need called loudly to you? Was there a Christ encounter?”
Some of our experiences:
- We are inspired by the total dedication and commitment of the people who worked with compassion and care.
- Nano’s charism is alive and well… we need not worry about the commitment and continuation.
- The poor and needy were met where they were … a personal, relational touch.
- In the hiddenness a lot is happening…
- There is a need for encounter… to connect… to hear the story.
- Touched by the presence the staff brought to all that they did in reaching out.
- It is important for people to feel a sense of belonging.
- We experienced a good model of collaboration between the centres, church, congregations and government.
- It was fitting to end the day reflecting on “Profile: Nano Nagle“ by Raphael Consedine; ‘…she believed in a living future and the programme for that future she gave in one word, LOVE.”
Submitted by India South Unit