14 September 2020
14 Sep 2020

Faith at the table

Faith at the table
Even around a table one can talk about faith and spirituality. In this time of pandemic, an original Dehonian experience from Neustadt in Germany
by  Brigitte Deiters

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Body and soul belong to each other. This statement was further emphasized in the first edition of “Spirituality at the Grid” at the Dehonian Spirituality and Formation Center in Neustadt, Germany. About 30 people accepted the invitation for a barbecue dinner and to exchange views on various topics related to life and faith.

People breathed a good atmosphere with  laughing and joking. They agreed with what P. Gerd Hemken SCJ ironically told them: “You probably wouldn’t have found your way here if there was nothing to eat and drink.

The house of spirituality in Neustadt has been a well-equipped barbecue area, which allows groups of people to come from far away and enjoy the evening hours to  let the day end differently. Due to the pandemic, this experience could not actually begin until August.

What supports me?

“What sustains me in life? Is faith a support and how? These were some of the central questions of the evening. The meeting was inspired by the new book of Bishop of Hildesheim, Bishop Heiner Wilmer SCJ (Trägt, Herder, 2020), former Superior General.

Fr. Hemken wanted to contextualize the questions to this time of  pandemic. He explained the consequences of the pandemic for the people in Germany and around the world especially for Christian communities, the elderly, the sick who felt lonely facing the fear of contagion, for those who work and those who cannot use their free time. Fr.Hekmen summed up by saying  “All our lives have been turned upside down,”

The participants then confronted each other at the table, sharing ideas and exchanging opinions. During the lock-down they found positive aspects of life: the community within the family, the free time for walks and extensive phone calls, the hope of rethinking on what is important  and the “nonsense” of going higher, faster and further with more and more expensive means, which now “hopefully” has all been reduced. Someone said  that “We should ask ourselves what is essential, and what we can do without nonsense,”. And someone else added that  “We should not only complain all the time, but also look at what has gone well in this period and After all, we are doingwell!’’

Overall, there was a lot of openness from the part of the individuals. A lady told about her difficult past of testifying great faith which moved the participants. The woman’s story was just as  Bishop Wilmer mentioned in an episode of his book. A woman who had confided to him: “He who stands above, he makes immune more than anything else. And the bells of the cathedral, he continues with gratitude, remind her of this.

The guests left Neustadt after spending about two hours. They obviously enjoyed the time of sharing and conversations with the Dehonian fathers: Fr. Gerd Hemken, Fr. Olav Hamelijnck, Fr. Ireneusz Kmiec.

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