reprinted with permissionfrom Maryknoll's World Apostolate Bulletin
(Vol. 42, July/August1999).
By Barbara Darling
"You know that while
all the runners in the stadium takepart in the race, the award goes to
one person. In that case,run as to win!" (1 Cor. 9:24).
The St. Maria Goreth
Small Christian Community in Geita, Tanzania,referred to this passage
in a recent letter to the Oilers, mysmall Christian Community (SCC) in
Arvada, Colorado. They offered encouragement upon learning how we
missed several of our members who stopped attending our regular Friday
Our two communities
Members of the "St. Maria Goreth Small Christian Community" pose for a
photo they sent to their "twin", the "Oilers Small Christian
Community" in Arvada, Colorado.
have maintained a
spiritual partnership since 1997.
We assure each other of mutual prayer and share scripture insights
through a relationship that spans great distance anddiverse cultures
and concentrates on mutual faith. We've traded photos and stories of
holiday traditions and observances. We've introduced our families to
theirs and shared news of deaths and illnesses.
"Even in this age of
global travel none of us expects to travel halfway around the world to
meet with the members of St. Maria Goreth community," says Sharon
Hoover, a member of the Oilers community. "But we realize how much we
have in common. We're all children of God and we share similar
fundamental beliefs. Family values are primary to the Africans and we
take heart in their good examples of simple faith and trust in
God."Rather than the "old" idea of twinning where the rich Americans
just help poor Third World people financially, SCC twinning shares
mutual pastoral experiences. "We are all both sending and receiving
churches," remarks Maryknoll Father Joseph Healey, who has spread the
vision of SCC twinning around the world."What is really 'new' is that
the small Christian community twinning program reaches the parish to
involve Christians at the very local, grassroots level, thereby
enriching the world church,"says Healey, a missioner in Tanzania.
"After the recent
Littleton High School tragedy just down the road from our Oilers
neighborhood, Sister Rita from St. Maria Goreth Community immediately
wrote asking about the safety ofour children," says Barbara Howard.
"It was reminiscent of our fear for the safety of our Tanzanian
friends last year when the U.S. Embassy was bombed in Dar Es Salaam,"
both communities now have faraway neighbors to pray for them and be
concerned about their welfare. The rich images and experiences of
friends halfway around the globe create an awareness and appreciation
of the universality of our church and our world that otherwise would
be difficult to grasp.
While reflecting on the
deaths in Littleton, it occurs to usthat basic human aspirations are
the same worldwide: the need to share the sanctity of life; a desire
to protect our families with a safe living environment; hopes and
dreams for one's children.So rather than erecting barriers, we can
offer our small Christian communities to promote harmony, acceptance
Communities in Wyoming, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida and Australia
have "twinned" with African communities. SCCs in Hong Kong and
Scotland are ready to join the program.
find a twin, your SCC should contact Buena Vista, a national network
that fosters Small Christian Communities, at 303/477-0180 or by email
or call the Office of Small Christian Communities at the Archdiocese
of Hartford, 860/872-8255.