New Hope, New Life, at the Passionist Partners Gathering

21st September 2018

“I see the new life emerging in this group…carrying on the Passionist charism.”

Those were the words of Sister Thérese O’Regan, Provincial Leader of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, as she addressed the Passionist Partners Gathering at Minsteracres Retreat Centre last week.

Coming from diverse backgrounds – from urban Toxteth in Liverpool to a walled garden in rural County Durham – nevertheless everyone gathered was united in their common cause: to stand alongside the marginalised in our communities and our world. In Passionist language we would call these “The Crucified of Today” – crucified people in our crucified world.

So whether it’s working alongside those stigmatised due to living with HIV or sharing a home with destitute asylum seekers, showing solidarity with oppressed miners worldwide or campaigning for a future world free of fossil fuels, each could lay claim to a share in the charism of the Passionists. Which is what made Sister Thérese’s words – echoed by other Passionist monks and nuns present – so poignant.

Passionists are committed to deepening relationships with each of our partners, valuing their work, supporting them in practical ways and learning from and being inspired by them too. As such the third annual gathering of Passionist Partners forms a key part of that process. This year each organisation was invited to tell their founding story, using anecdotes, images and video to tell of the crucified in their own context and their response to the need they see. In a world so often defined by pessimism and despair, each story offered hope.

Paul Bodenham is Chair of Green Christian, which helps members to understand and relate ecological responsibilities to their faith, and in his presentation offered words which were both hopeful and practical.  In particular he encouraged each delegate to join the cycle of Seeing, Grieving, Hoping and Acting in the midst of the need we see. Often, he said, faced with the problems we see, we become paralysed with grief and are unable to act. But our faith tells us that that grief can give way to hope. Equally, however, the activists among us can also be too quick to step in, whereas giving time to grieve and hope can make our action more relevant and effective.

On the Thursday morning the delegates made their own way back home, to stand alongside the crucified in their own contexts. Each went with their own stories of inspiration, but also a sense of community. One powerful image from the gathering was a small table with 12 candles each representing a partner gathered around a central candle standing for Christ, from which their light was taken. This togetherness with Christ was echoed in one of the prayers used at the gathering:

“Help us to learn here that we are loved, and to celebrate the humanity we share. Amen.”

See our web page to find out more about each of our Passionist Partners.