New Humanity Movement

Ethnicities and Cultures

Kamen 

 

Westphalia, Northern Germany.  The city of Kamen, with its 88 nationalities, is indeed a small cosmopolitan universe. Two priests, particularly sensitive to young people, and moved by the ideal of fraternity, tell us how they succeed in establishing links, that from solidarity blossom in fraternity.

by Meinolf Wacker- Kamen (Germany)

Since a lot of years I have been in charge of the pastoral care of youth in the Diocese of Paderborn, in the Rhine valley.
Our parish unit is composed of approximately 10.000 catholics, and in Kamen, my city, there are 88 different nationalities. These are data that make one reflect about the singularity of what we live here, with regards to integration, and creation of links throughout the whole community.

Beyond my specific duties, I am deeply convinced that universal brotherhood is at the first place in my life. I try hard and live it every day, also sharing my house with another priest, Bernhard, who has my same ideals. This is probably the toughest challenge for the two of us: succeeding in being credible wtnesses, beyond the limits of our humane nature, showing that this ideal can indeed be lived, even in a “complex” city, as our own.

Therefore with Bernhard we try hard and experiment this kind of fraternity, first of all in the relationship and collaboration between the two of us, in order to trasmit it with our life to all the persons we meet every day.

I share an experience with you: even though the parish has quite a large number of young people, they rarely come to the services. We started asking us the reason for that, and we understood the need to enter the problems of teenagers, to realize what they feel, their difficulties. Therefore we started visiting each of them, home by home, offering them a “neutral” place, where they could come and visit us, without being forced to enter the church. We set up a big tent, and the first evening there were more than 30 young people present.

With them, we began to put the words of the Gospel into practice, writing down our positive experiences, and sharing them by email with a lot of young people in our city, and in other places as well. A young woman from Rumania answered one of our messages in this way: “On December 24 I was sad, as, once more, I would have celebrated Christmas by myself. In that precise moment, I read your email with your experience, and this gave me the courage to open up myself with all the persons in my home environment ...”

With 88 nationalities in the city, it readily comes to the fore that God waits for us in all the foreigners, who live in our neighborhoods: it is on them that we want to focus our attention. We have a small place downtown, where we teach catechism, and where all the young people that want to get ready for Confirmation come. All together we go and visit the foreign citizens, bringing them a symbol of peace as a gift.

In May 2009 we set up a human chain, that crossed the center of the city, and stretched for more than 2 km, with young, adults, and elder people of all the 88 nationalities, to show our firm committment in keeping alive and increasing the spirit of peace in our city.

The mayor was so impressed by the committment of the young people, that he asked us to continue and work for the city, in establishing links, that from solidarity blossom in fraternity. In one of his talks, he publicly decleared: “I have always considered the Catholic Church as old, and far from the real interests of people. What you have done for our city deeply touched me. This is how I dream the Church!”

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