The new foundation in the Netherlands, formed by Fathers Peter Subowo, Michal Tabak, Jesús Baena, was invited to participate at the assembly of the German province. Fr. Wilhelmus Halters was also present. We present the text of their testimony.
Landing and settling down in The Netherlands as an International Community has been in the mind and heart of several General Administrations for many years. It is not something new but is only now coming true. The Spirit has led us through tough times, especially due to The Covid-19 pandemic, until we finally arrived in Nijmegen. It was a time of bewilderment and desolation, but also a time of hope and preparation. Finally, we have begun.
We thought we would start together with three, but Visa issues delayed Subowo´s arrival for almost three months. It did not matter much because we were willing to wait for him. In the meantime, during the summer, we had time to set up and furnish an empty house, to register our names as Dutch citizens, to get health cards, to learn how to read in Dutch and celebrate the Eucharist in public, and to visit our scj confreres who live in two residences for elderly people. We could accomplish all these things and much more thanks to Father Wilhelmus Halters, to whom we are deeply grateful for his invaluable help.
I remember when Carlos Luis, our General Superior, came to visit us. He emphasized numbers 26 and 27 of our Rule of Life and we dialogued a lot about how to update “a life of union and oblation of Christ” here and now, in the Netherlands. It is not going to be easy for sure. There will be times of loneliness, emptiness and confrontation, but we are ready to be surprised, ready to get back to the Gospel and ask how Christ would deal with this situation, because we are here to continue Christ’s Spirit. But above all, we are deeply thankful for this gift, this opportunity of doing and experiencing something new. We are aware and conscious of the gift given to us to renew our Religious Life. We are aware that it is a dream becoming true, and dream about Religious Life in 2021 in order to not make the same mistakes, to dream what kind of Congregation in Europe we would like to accomplish.
We know we should be ready to expect what is unexpected, to change our minds when it is necessary, because something new must be created. We will be careful the way we approach people; what should be improved and what should be put aside. We will try to be creative, to dialogue with this culture, to take care of the youth, to accompany our scj brothers and to pray for the impossible. But the most important thing is that we will try to keep a healthy and fraternal atmosphere in the community.
Do we have some kind of `plan of action’? No, actually not, not in the strict sense at least. That may sound a bit strange. Many people ask us continually what are you going to do, what are your goals? It may sound stressful not having a written answer but we think somehow, we are writing the future ourselves. Of course, we must have some kind of aim, but what will happen, I don’t know. I only know that first of all we have to learn Dutch, that we want to spend as much time as possible together in the community and we are open to collaborating in the churches of Nijmegen and, furthermore, that we are open to suggestions from the bishop. He knows we are here and we have already made an appointment with him to introduce ourselves. Maybe the bishop will say: you are doing a good job, but we need you in this place, or in that locality.
We came to Nijmegen with a very open attitude. We don’t know exactly what will happen, but I’m sure that – if we keep that open attitude – the Lord will show us a certain way to work here.
As I finish brothers, and I do so referring to our Rule of Life: “to be united with Christ”, that is our goal, our aim, but it is time to find the way, and that will be our oblation. In other words, to be present in the Netherlands, to form and built a community, and to be guided by the Spirit.
Thank you very much indeed for listening, for this opportunity of sharing and especially thank you from the bottom of our hearts to German Province (Provincial, Administration and your confreres) for inviting us. For us this has been a sure and great sign of God´s will in building the religious life of the future.