10. Celebrating Life and Mission in Intercultural and Intergenerational Communities

“But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself.” – Jn 1:12-13.

“In dealing with any of our brothers whose origins, age, cultural background or opinions different from our own, let us preserve the unity of the spirit by the peace that binds us together.” – CC 17.


As a Congregation, we are gifted with brothers hailing from nearly sixty-five countries who enrich our life with their traditions, languages and customs. When the Congregation spread from Spain to other continents, our missionary fraternity moved from being monocultural to multi-cultural and is now progressively becoming intercultural. It also brings with it many graces and challenges.

IFelices Los Q Trabaj Por La Paz 170X236 1n a broad sense, all of us come in contact with cultural differences in everyday life as most societies are like a mosaic of people of different cultures who share a sense of common identity based on caste, tribe, language or a geographical unit (country, state, city or village). The generational gap is also felt in many communities when elderly and young Claretians who have been formed in different ecclesial seasons and contexts (Pre-Vatican, post-Vatican, modern, millennial etc.) live and work together. The marvel of diversity among us is the manifestation of the creativity of the Holy Spirit. We humans can take diversity as a threat and fail to benefit from the gift of difference or welcome it as a treasure to cherish and grow into wholeness and holiness. The agony and ecstasy of the intercultural and inter-generational communities enact this drama of life.

In this module we shall explore the dynamics of intercultural and inter-generational communities and how they can be used to better serve the life and mission of the Congregation. Awareness of these dynamics and mindful living of our missionary vocation will help us to live the trinitarian mystery of unity in diversity.

1. Different attitudes to intercultural and intergenerational scenario in our communities, Organisms and missions

Do you live in an intercultural community with confreres hailing from a cultural group other than yours? How is it for you when you find yourself living with a confrere who thinks and acts very differently from what you are accustomed to? Excited? Fed up? Irritated? Tolerating? Confused? Or other?

Perhaps, your present community is not intercultural yet, but your province/Delegation is. How does your Province/Delegation deal with diversity and cultural differences among its members? How is the generational disparity lived in your Organism? Are you appreciative of being multicultural? Is there subtle or strong tension or polarity between locals and foreigners, majority and minority groups, and elderly and young? Do you ignore or overlook cultural and generational differences in the Organism? What are the common prejudices held about the various groups and how do these prejudices affect the fraternity of the Province/Delegation and its mission? Intercultural and intergenerational communities can have great missionary potential as well as very delicate equilibrium which we need to handle with prudence.

2. Some basic observations related to intercultural communities

1) Individual differences are greater than cultural differences

Hence, there can be conflicts and tensions equally in monocultural communities. Personal maturity and integrity of the members are the most important factors that contribute to the harmony and missionary vigour of a community.

2) We belong to many cultures, not just one culture

As I am member of many social groups (local, national, ethnic, sub-ethnic, educational, religious etc.), I share the values, attitudes and customs (culture) of all these groups. In spite of commonly shared cultural values, no two persons from the same cultural group are alike.

3) Conflicts are normal in any human group

Community conflicts assume different cultural tones depending on the members who constitute it. Usually the conflict is between two predominant groups based on power distribution. For example, locals and “outsiders”. When “outsiders” are weak or very few, the conflict shifts towards people who come from two regions or two ethnic groups. Conflicts that drain apostolic energy can be resolved by growing to higher levels of religious maturity where the uniqueness of the person and the interests of the Congregation are valued above and beyond group-based identities and interests.

4) Intercultural communities favour our openness

In spite of some benefits for mutual understanding due to shared cultural values, monocultural communities impoverish its members in terms of openness to the breadth of God’s action in the world. Intercultural communities, despite the pain of initial integration of differences, favour personal growth as well as openness of mind and heart to God’s creative diversity in the world.

5) Ethnocentrism is a normal phase of development of intercultural intelligence

Like the stage of grandiosity of early childhood in individual life, cultural or ethnic superiority is a stage of growth in social life. At the earlier stages of development of self, national, ethnic or group identities play a significant role in our self-definition. At higher stages of personal evolution, cultural identity is subordinated to a wider horizon to include all humans.[1] As a missionary grows spiritually, he knows that he truly belongs to God and, therefore, belongs to everybody.

6) Charism and mission unify the members of a community

Without the centrality of the charism, any effort to promote communion in community is merely a cosmetic intervention. A Claretian verbalized it thus: “I think I can live and work with a Claretian from any culture provided he is willing to abide by our constitutions to a reasonable degree. But I will surely have difficulty to live in community with a Claretian from my own culture if he does not care for what our Constitutions demand.”

3. What is your idea of Culture, your culture and the culture of your confreres?

It is helpful to explore what you understand by culture. Culture can be seen as a way of life expressed in signs, symbols and customs with its enduring and changing aspects. Each culture is impregnated with a worldview and a set of meanings. Each person imbues traditions and values from the socio-cultural milieu and grows in it in a unique way. There are visible and invisible parts in a culture. When you are in front of a person, you see his/her outside appearance and behaviour patterns, but you need to know the person’s culture and background to make sense of what you see outside. An iceberg is a helpful image of culture. Two thirds of an iceberg are under water. If the larger part underwater is ignored, it can make sink even a big Titanic. Using this image, let us do the following exercise:

Draw an iceberg or a tree on a paper. Then think of a known person of another culture. Imagine that person’s appearance and behavioral patterns (way of greeting, eating, praying, expression of emotions, preferred food, hobbies, reading, sports, entertainment etc.,). Now make a chart of the culture that contributed to the making of that person. Fill in the upper part of the iceberg. Discuss with the person or read about the culture of his place and fill the lower column of the picture.

The upper visible part:

Iceberg InterculturalityLanguage, dressing, greeting, hairstyle, gestures, food, eating style, way of praying, music, art, hobbies, reading, emotional display, social communication, eye contact, leisure activity, sports and entertainment.

Lower invisible part:

Invisible part of life, human nature and God, relationship rules, Notions of time, views on value of work, motivations for achievement, role of adults and children in family, importance of face, harmony, tolerance for change, communication styles, gender roles, thinking styles.


Each person is a unique image of God, shaped by his culture and also shaping the culture together with others in a personal and collective journey of life. You may develop greater understanding for each person when you respectfully glimpse the unique person, an image of God, whom the culture of his upbringing presents to you and as he presents that culture to you in his unique manner.

It is interesting to observe that even people who manifest higher levels of racial or national pride and prejudices keep their preferred saints out of their prejudices. For example, Saint Claret is not seen as a Catalan bishop, St. Francis of Assisi as an Italian mendicant, St. Rose as a Peruvian lady or St. Anthony as a Portuguese friar. They are intimate friends and benefactors at the soul level. Indeed, men and women of God transcend their cultural boundaries and belong to everyone at a deep level. A missionary by his very vocation goes beyond his racial and national boundaries and embraces everyone in his heart, filled with the fire of God’s love.

How do the nationalities or ethnic origins of your favourite saints affect your relationship with them?

4. Graces and challenges of intercultural and intergenerational communities

In the context of the massive movement of people across continents due to immigration and globalization, harmonious co-existence of peoples has become a challenge. The prophetic role of the religious today has the task of “spreading the spirituality of communion, first of all in their internal life and then in the ecclesial community and even beyond its boundaries by opening or continuing a dialogue of charity especially where today’s world is torn apart by ethnic hatred and senseless violence.” [2] Intercultural communities are of special significance in this context. We shall list a few of the blessings and challenges of intercultural communities.

1) Blessings

In the communities where differences are perceived positively, there are many blessings:

  • Witness of God as the Father of us all

The Christian conviction about God as the Father of all is affirmed through the living testimony of people of different cultures forming a family.

  • A model of communal harmony

An intercultural community is a prophetic sign of harmony and communion in the context of a world wounded by ethnic conflicts, racial prejudices and communal wars.

  • Opening to broader perspectives about reality

The presence of members from various cultures gives opportunity to challenge the limited world vision of a single culture and to open up to broader perspectives in one’s life.

  • Better Self- knowledge and personal growth

Contact with people of other cultures sheds light on one’s own unquestioned beliefs and prejudices and enhances greater self-awareness. People who have been in another culture with a positive outlook seem to achieve greater personal growth and refinement as humans.

  • Cultural confrontation and mutual learning

Exposure to other cultures lead to healthy confrontation among cultures that can shed light on each culture’s limitations and idiosyncrasies, and mutually benefit from the best of one another.

  • Apostolic effectiveness

An intercultural community has richer resources and more paradigms to address various pastoral needs. It is all the more relevant for a multicultural society.

2) Challenges

In the communities where differences are perceived as a threat, there are various defensive dynamics that drain away the vitality of members and enthusiasm for mission. Though these dynamics are present in any immature community and between immature persons, they assume large proportions in an intercultural group when individuals have a high degree of ethnocentrism. We identify a few common challenges in intercultural communities.

  • Stereotypes and Prejudices

Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people that oversimplify their culture. Prejudice is a pre-judgement on a member of an outgroup based on preconceived ideas without any reference to actual experience. For example, when I consider Indians to be stingy, I expect John who is from India to have the trait of stinginess.

  • Cultural Domination

In an intercultural context, persons from an economically/numerically/socially advanced group tend to consider themselves as superior to others, and impose their group norms as normative for everyone.

  • Self-Victimization

One who suffers from low self-esteem may easily perceive discrimination and ill-treatment from others even when there is no objective evidence for it. He may play the “victim” role in relation to those perceived as belonging to a “superior” culture and even perceive persecutory behaviours in them in neutral situations.

  • Cultural Shield

In intercultural communities, members may defend their personal agenda using cultural differences as a shield. They may rationalize an unacceptable behaviour either by defending oneself in the name of culture (“in our culture we do like this”) or projecting the blame on the difference of culture (“The foreign superior/formator is imposing his culture on us”). When the cultural card is played in times of trouble, it tends to attract supporters and drown the real issues in the “troubled waters.” Group coalitions based on cultural affinities are not rare in times of elections and in decision making bodies.

  • Minority Discount

In an intercultural context, a member from a minority group may enjoy privileges and attention which the majority group may not be granted. Some mistakes done by the minority member may be easily overlooked by the superiors. E.g., Superiors tend to ignore negative vocational signs when the first member from a new culture is to be promoted for profession. But the same signs in a person of the majority culture would be taken seriously.

  • Majority group’s cultural insensitivity

The predominant group in an intercultural community tend to indulge in practices and customs of their culture without taking note of how it affects others. This can provoke other members to form their own sub-groups or look outside for affiliation.

  • Communication failure

Cultural misunderstanding among members are common in an intercultural setting. The behaviour of a person may be understood by his confrere using the interpretative key of his own culture.

5. Educating ourselves to form witnessing intercultural communities

Living in intercultural communities is not easy. Experience has taught us that goodwill and missionary zeal are necessary but not enough to form intercultural communities. There are times when good people have hurt each other and harmed the mission because of their lack of preparation to live in an intercultural community context. Hence, understanding of the group dynamics of intercultural groups and developing intercultural competencies are important for the life and mission of intercultural communities.

1) Spirituality of interculturality

We need a sound spirituality grounded in catholic theology to live in an intercultural community meaningfully. Our experience of God as Trinity which reveals unity in diversity is the foundation for it. The mystery of Trinity upholds the “dignity of difference” because the very identity of the Divine Persons rests on what is different and their relationship is in the very identity. Father cannot be Father without the Son or vice versa. Father and Son cannot be without the Holy Spirit. Our faith in the Trinitarian God makes better sense when we experientially know that peace, joy and freedom are possible only when love allows each person to be himself in his community. It is a useless and hurting venture to force communion by eliminating differences.

Jesus himself learned to move out of his Judean comfort zones to meet with people on the social and cultural peripheries: the Samaritan woman[3], the Canaanite woman[4], the centurion[5]. He even depicted a Samaritan[6] and a tax collector[7] as heroes of his parables on showing and receiving God’s merciful love. His apostles were men who came from groups of incompatible differences: Fishermen, publicans, Pharisees, scribes. His love held them together and engaged them in his mission. When Jesus died the group got dispersed. The risen Lord gathers them together once again.[8] In the Church, the Holy Spirit gathers people of all nations by the preaching of the Good News.

The Church had to struggle to get out of its Jewish cultural baggage to embrace the gentiles into her fold. The surprising and visible action of the Spirit which did not call for the practice of the Law of Moses opened the eyes of the early Church to recognize that God does not discriminate between nations. Faith in Jesus builds community. Paul was very clear about it, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [9]

Claret mentions only one thing as common with his companions when he narrates the founding of the Congregation: “Priests whom the Lord had given the same spirit that motivated me. [10] A Claretian community is formed by those who have received the same spirit that God gave to Claret. Hence, the only criteria to gauge the suitability of belonging or representing the Congregation is this charismatic spirit, the “fire of God’s love.” [11] It was in Cuba that Claret came in close contact with cultural and social diversity and discrimination. His experience of God as Father made him to speak for the dignity of the slaves and the sanctity of marriages against unjust laws of the state. His stand against slave trade made the slave traders to attempt to poison him. The account of Claret about his missionary companions is a beautiful narration of how the saint treated each person and appreciated their unique contribution. [12] Claret writes about the community, “I often wondered how it was possible for so much peace, joy and harmony to reign for so long a time among such a large group.” [13]

Only a Claretian who has found his identity as the child of God, loved, called and anointed by the Spirit of Christ, can see his own brother in a confrere who is different in age, culture, race or language.

Reflect on this story

A sage asked his disciples, “when do you know that the night is gone, and day is born?”

Man Dark

One disciple said, “Well, when you can distinguish a white thread from a black one.” “No”, said the sage. “When you can make out a jack tree from a mango against the horizon”, another tried.

The teacher again said, “No”. Others offered other solutions but could not satisfy the teacher.

Finally, the wiseman emphatically said, “Listen, when you can look into the eyes of a stranger, and see your own brother or sister in those eyes, then the day is dawned for you. Until then you are in darkness.”

Reflection: When and how do you get disconnected from the foundational love in your heart in the context of community living? What do you do to get back to this charismatic source?


2) Moving from ethno-centrism to cultural-relativism, a developmental perspective

Recall one of your first trips to outside of your native place during which you encountered people who speak a different language, practice another religion or have different customs. What were your feelings? Surprise, excitement, shock? When a person from another ethnic group or a different country joined your community, what changes did happen in you? What changes did happen in you when you were sent to a community away from your culture?

There are studies on the stages of intercultural development that we go through when we relate closely in other cultures or with people of other cultures. The stages presented by Milton Bennett is helpful to check out our own progress in intercultural sensitivity. He speaks of a move from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism through different rungs in progression. Awareness of these stages through which an individual passes through in his contact with people of other cultures is helpful for missionaries to improve their intercultural relations.

a. Ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is an early stage in intercultural relations at which a person tends to hold the view that one’s own group is the center of everything, and others are scaled and rated in reference to it. A highly ethnocentric person sees his group as virtuous and superior and the values of his group as universal. He also sees outgroups as contemptible and inferior and reject their values. It is akin to the typical grandiosity of a child in its early stage of growth. Everyone is ethnocentric to some degree and it is by becoming aware of our own ethnocentric tendencies we can grow towards better ways of relating with others. There are three stages of ethnocentrism:

  • Denial. People at this stage have little contact with other cultures and they tend to think that others think and act alike. They believe that they are right and those who behave differently are ignorant. People in denial mode could be authoritarian and insensitive to the different needs of others. For example, expressing disgust about food of other cultures. They stick to their own people and avoid contact with others.
  • At this stage people recognize the existence of other cultures, but discount their validity. One’s own culture is considered as better than others and the only valid way to live. They denigrate other cultures and assert the superiority of their own culture. Cultures are perceived in competing relationship. People are seen in dualistic terms of “us” and “them”, and they tend to surround themselves with their own people and avoid others. Members of minority groups in such a stage may react in an exaggerated way by aggressive criticism of the majority group or going to the opposite of “going native” by identifying with the majority.
  • Minimization. At this stage people minimize cultural differences and assume that all cultures are fundamentally similar. People of other cultures are not considered inferior or unfortunate, but the goodness in the difference is not recognized. At this stage a community seeks conformity to have a smooth running. One may think that what works in a culture works everywhere.

In an intercultural community the above stages provoke various reactions in the members such as group tensions (cultural groups, age groups, ministry groups) and people playing “cultural card” to defend personal interests.

b. Cultural relativism

Cultural relativism is the opposite of ethnocentrism. “Cultural relativism means that we understand a culture from its inside and look at the behaviour of people from their point of view. Further we respect the differences that contrast with our own culture.” [14]

  • Acceptance of cultural differences. At this stage we are willing to recognize other cultures and accept them as valid alternatives to their own worldview. Now differences are acknowledged and understood. It is as if we are culturally “neutral,” because we tend to see differences as a fact of life. People with rigid and dogmatic religious ideas take time to accept different ideas as valid alternatives. Acceptance does not mean abandoning critical thinking or ignoring principles and core values. Rather it is more of openness and respect for differences.
  • Adaptation of one’s thinking and behavior to cultural differences. We begin to view differences as valuable, positive and often complementary. We look for creative adaptation of other cultural norms to integrate into the new context better. Instead of getting irritated about the apprehension of a confrere from a collectivistic culture, we now encourage him and affirm his small steps to do things alone.
  • Integration of cultural differences into one’s own world view. We come to realize that our true identity transcends all cultures and cannot be equated to any single culture. It gives the freedom to integrate the positive values of other cultures into our own world view and relativize our own native culture. We can critically look at our own and other cultures with inner freedom and genuine appreciation for the goodness they embody. As missionaries we experience greater meaning of our vocation and mission because we realize that when we belong to God, we belong to everyone’s cultural frames of reference. Though we maintain our own cultural identity, we naturally integrate aspects of other cultures into it.

The growth from ethno-centrism to ethno-relativism is beset with many struggles with which most of us have first-hand experience. Personal wounds and personality styles of members complicate this complex process of growth. But it is highly rewarding to advance in this path. We need to keep in mind that ethno-relativism is different from moral relativism. There are cultural practices that are unacceptable because they are morally wrong. For example, practices like sati (burning the bride in the pyre together with the body of a deceased husband), killing twins, genital mutilation, etc. are unacceptable on ethical grounds.


Recall your own process of growth towards cultural relativism and see where you would place yourself and reflect on what you need to do to move further.

3) Cultural shock and reverse cultural shock

It is not rare that we experience cultural shock when we step into a new cultural milieu and a reverse cultural shock when we return to native culture after living a long period in another culture.

Cultural shock is the feeling of anxiety that a person can experience after they have moved into an entirely new environment. Generally, it surfaces within a few weeks of arriving in a new and different cultural context. It grows out of the difficulties in assimilating the new culture without knowing what is appropriate and what is not. We may experience a dislike for or even disgust (moral or aesthetical) regarding certain aspects of the new or different culture. The cultural shock may entail the stages of honeymoon (early excitement), frustration (loneliness, adjustment problems), adjustment (manage feelings and getting familiar with the new situation) and acceptance (settlement to start working on the goal).

Reverse cultural shock (re-entry shock) is experienced when we return to our own native culture after spending a long time in another culture. The changes at both ends can be uncomfortable.

Mindfulness of what is happening and openness to go through the changes together with your spiritual values and a pinch of humor will serve to deal with the cultural shock.

6. Competencies to celebrate life and mission in intercultural communities

Breaking and building, dying and rising constitute the Pasqual path to life and love. Here are some Principles that can support our life and mission in intercultural communities:

1) Priority of vocational values over cultural values

A religious community is formed by the call of the Lord to follow him and the charism of the institute to serve the people of God. Hence, we are not representing any cultural group or a country in our communities. Vocational values enshrined in the Constitutions should guide the course of the community rather than cultural values. Communities which overlook the congregational norms (daily prayer, Plenary meetings, recollections, community project, accounting, etc.) have more cultural conflicts.

2) Training in intercultural competence

We should not take for granted that a good religious automatically grows in his capacity to relate well with people of other cultures and work in a different culture.

a. Cultural intelligence

Cultural intelligence is the “ability to engage in a set of behaviours that uses skills (i.e., language of the place, relational skills) and qualities (e.g., tolerance for ambiguity, flexibility) that are tuned appropriately to the culture-based values and attitudes of the people with whom one interacts.” [15] It can be cultivated with effort.

b. Interpathy

Interpathy is the skill of sensitivity for imaginatively entering into the framework of another culture. It enables one to enter a second culture cognitively and affectively, to perceive and conceptualize the internal coherence, and to respect that culture as equally valid as one’s own. [16]

c. Priority of Inculturation

Our presence in another cultural milieu is because we are sent to proclaim the Good News to the people there. In an intercultural community, customs, language and practices of the host culture should have priority over that of the culture of individual members. [17]

d. Cultural enrichment

Creating opportunities for knowing and appreciating the culture of the members is important in an intercultural community. Cultural feasts and presentations are helpful for getting to know the others in perspective.

e. Problem management

When relational problems arise between two persons, it is to be handled as personal issues rather than as cultural issues. Conflicts and tensions are natural for any group. An intercultural community can grow into greater cohesion when it is able to handle conflicts by focusing on core issues of conflict to find suitable solutions.

f. Collective commitment

Joyful intercultural community is the fruit of the intentional commitment of all members. Honest dialogue and empowering conversations can overcome prejudices and stereotypes and promote the best in each one for the common good.

7. The joy of Intergenerational Communities

It is beautiful for a Claretian community to have elderly Claretians who enrich the community with their wisdom and experience. They are also reminders of a meaningful evening of life that the young members could visualize for themselves. A community is not a romantic group of young people on a picnic trip, but rather a family consisting of the presence of young, middle aged and elderly Claretians sharing life and mission together in community.

In a consumer society which thrives on the pursuit of individual comforts, an elderly person is perceived as a burden for others. People generally abhor retirement for fear loneliness and monotony. In such a social context, the elderly missionaries who happily spend up themselves for others by doing household chores, hearing confessions, receiving visitors, listening to the pain of others, or visiting sick neighbours are indeed living testimonies of the joy of the Gospel. When health fails, they are missionaries from their sick bed praying and suffering for the Church and the Congregation. Middle aged Claretians need to be mentors and accompaniers of younger generations to help them assume responsibilities with confidence and take up the service of leadership. Thus, they prepare themselves to join the group of wise elders. On the part of younger members, the presence of elderly missionaries is important to benefit from their experiential wisdom. They need to learn to build on the past achievements of their elder brothers rather than undoing the past to build something new to their credit. The wisdom of the elders is necessary to end the drama of immature missionaries who uncritically replace innovations of their predecessors with their novel projects which would eventually be changed by their successors.

In a dysfunctional community, the generation gap is experienced as a threat to each other’s comfort zone. Often the people close to us watch the emotional battle between the missionaries with pain and may even be dragged into this conflict. On the contrary, a healthy Claretian community can unite the gifts of the young, middle aged and elderly missionaries and assure continuity and the needed changes in mission. Following the call of the last General Chapter, we need to promote among ourselves attitudes, of mutual and loving appreciation, of interests in who the other is and for what he does. In this way healthy communities can develop: Where dialogue occurs, grace is shared, a sense of trust and freedom develops, the joy of the Gospel is shared, pardon and reconciliation heals our wounds, and no one and nothing (i.e. abuse of social media, the new technologies, and other interests) isolates us from one another.” [18] The key to build bridges between generations is the willingness to “waste time” in patient dialogue. The elderly must listen to and encourage the young, and the young, in turn, must take time to listen to the elderly. Without this attitude of “wasting time” in listening, we cannot build community.

8. Tenderness of Mary’s heart for intercultural living

Awareness of the psycho-social dynamics of intercultural and inter-generational groups is very helpful, but not enough to bring about the harmony and the joy in our community life. It is the love for God and for our brothers and sisters poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that builds up our communion. [19] This love is not a rational idea, but a commitment of relationship with others made possible by God’s love. As sons of the heart of Mary, we are formed in the furnace of her immaculate heart to learn the art of love and tenderness. Pope Francis speaks of God’s “revolution of tenderness” in the event of the incarnate Son of God and sees Mary as the icon of the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. [20] We need to imbibe this tenderness of Mary’s heart to combat the hardness of the heart (spiritual cardiosclerosis) to strengthen our love for our brothers in community with their differences and apply this Marian “style” in the work of evangelization.


Cardinal Aquilino Bocos, when he was Superior General of our congregation in the year 2000, has invited the Congregation on the need to take the path of interculturality. [21] We have made progress in creating an awareness of the richness and missionary potential of intercultural communities. We have been also learning from our mistakes and intercultural immaturities. The global scenario also changed significantly and multiculturality is a fact of life in most places. Joyful intercultural communities have a great witnessing value of fraternal communion which Jesus earnestly desired from his disciples.



  1. Make a list of the predominant cultural groups to which your confreres in the community and the Province belong. Write appreciative comments and prejudices that you have come across about people of each culture in two separate columns. Put yourself into the shoes of the other when you read the comments pertaining to his culture and see how it affects you. If you do this exercise in community, share the lists with each other and share the reactions in a context of a lectio with Lk 7:34.
  2. Looking at your context, what do you consider as the important blessings for the life and mission of your community/Major Organism from intercultural communities? What are the major challenges you face in living with people of other cultures? How do you think you can improve your capacity for intercultural and intergenerational community life?
  3. What can you do to appreciate the elder members of your community and benefit from their wisdom and dedication despite their limitations? How can you help the younger Claretians to gain confidence and to dedicate themselves to the mission with joy despite their limitations?



[1] Ken Wilber describes this growth as a move from ego-centric, to ethno-centric to world-centric vision of life. Cf. Integral vision.

[2] John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, 51.

[3] Cf. Jn 4.

[4] Cf. Mt 15:21ff.

[5] Cf. Mt 8:5ff.

[6] Cf. Lk 15.

[7] Cf. Lk 18.

[8] Cf. Jn 21; Lk 24.

[9] Gal 3:28.

[10] Antonio Ma. Claret, Autobiography, n. 489.

[11] Ídem, n. 494.

[12] Cf. Ídem, n. 591-605.

[13] Ídem, 609.

[14] Everett M. Roggers, Thomas M. Steinfatt, Intercultural Communication (Waveland Press, Inc. – Illinois, 1999). Page 226.

[15] Brooks Peterson, Cultural Intelligence. A guide to working with people from other cultures. (Intercultural press – Yarmouth, 2004). Page 89.

[16] David Augsburger, Pastoral Counselling across cultures. (Westminster Press – Philadephia, 1986). Page 14.

[17] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio. On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate (Rome 1999), N. 53.

[18] MS 70, 1.

[19] Cf. CC 10.

[20] Cf. EG 88, 288.

[21] Aquilino Bocos Merino CMF, “La Obligada Via de la Interculturalidad”. Talk to the Conference of European Claretians (CEC). Buckden Towers, England, 11 Dec. 2000.