In May, SCJs and students from Freiburg and Berlin traveled to Leipzig (Germany) for the 100th “Katholikentag” (Catholic Day). It was an interesting place for such an event: Leipzig is 6% Protestant and 4% Catholic. There are also groups on the far right and far left.
Not only prayer
“Ecce homo” or “Behold the man” has become not just a phrase, but the statement of encounter. The beginning was characterized by the meeting of the believer with one who is searching, or one who recognizes indifference.
This year’s Katholikentag was marked not only by the Eucharist, celebrated by the Archbishop of Berlin, Monsignor Heiner Koch, but also by a number of initiatives, such as meditations and discussions on topical socio-religious issues (women’s diaconate, the responsibility of Catholics for Europe, the problem of migrants). Important in the context of Leipzig were themes of life, with or without God.
Seize the opportunity
The day is an opportunity for dioceses, religious orders and various church organizations to present their activities. The German Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart gave a presentation about the activities of the Berlin community for two reasons: first because of the geographical proximity of Leipzig, which is approximately 180 kilometers from Berlin, but more importantly, because of the nature of pastoral work open to non-believers.
They presented the Dehonians of today and their activities. The SCJ students of Freiburg helped with the presentation. During it we were encouraged to reflect on life and to make decisions for change. In religious language we often talk about conversion. Here we used the expression “durchstarten,” to start over, to indicate that our activity is something new. Linked to the keyword durchstarten, we proposed a game with ice machines, which engaged not only children but also adults.
“Father, do you know why we’re here? We came with the kids especially, to show that we are not the only ones who are Catholic.” Most of the people who visited us were Catholics from all over Germany who look forward each year to this event. In this meeting they have the opportunity to listen to lectures, take advantage of cultural offerings, and have an experience of the community. The latter part is especially important for the Catholics of Leipzig and the surrounding areas, who live in the diaspora.
Among those who attended our sessions were many people who have come in contact with Dehonians in the various areas in which they operate.
Looking at photographs they recognized many friends and acquaintances. The meetings with the benefactors who support our missionary work (also in Moldavia) were very interesting. Several of them had never met the Dehonians. They send money to the Procurator of the Missions, and each time they then receive a “thank you” and a copy of our magazine Dein Reich komme. The discussions with the residents of Leipzig who are unbelievers or Protestants were also interesting.
Ecce Homo has become a challenge for us in these days. How you can seek God outside of man?