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home : opinion : our neighbors' faith

6/2/2016 9:00:00 AM
OUR NEIGHBORS' FAITH
Bruderhof, Catholics promote life
THE
THE "CELEBRATE LIFE" EVENT
BY MARTIN JOHNSON


For the last four years, the Maple Ridge Bruderhof community in Ulster Park, N.Y., has had a "Celebrate Life" open house in May for our Catholic friends.

This has always been a great encouragement to us as we stand together to protect life from start to finish and work for more committed marriages and other issues. Mainstream culture is becoming more and more confused and Godless, and we have to encourage each other.

About 110 people came to the event from all over the Hudson valley. The Brooklyn Diocese's television station even sent a reporter, whose introduction noted: "Living like the early disciples, the members of Bruderhof sell all personal possessions and live with everything in common. Their 'Celebrate Life' event [is] a day when Catholics are invited to the grounds for faith and fellowship."

Several Catholic religious orders were represented, including Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate from Monroe, N.Y.; Benedictine Sisters from Elizabeth, N.J.; Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal; a Medical Mission sister from Philadelphia; two Catholic Workers; several Maryknoll sisters; a Franciscan friar from Siena College in Loudonville; and Rev. James Kane, ecumenical director for the Albany Catholic Diocese. Many local friends also came.

The time was spent in fellowship, games and meals. Trips were arranged to our nearby new "Mount Community" at the former Mount St. Alphonsus Redemptorist Seminary, which now houses 120 souls and Mount Academy High School, which has 200 students.

One sister at the event had attended the funeral for Rev. Dan Berrigan in Manhattan the day before with eight Bruderhof members. She shared about that, and about her radical peace work with Father Berrigan, at a community meeting. A priest from Connecticut shared that his brother was an FBI agent who had once arrested Father Berrigan.

Tom Cornell of the Catholic Worker shared at mealtime: "The relationship between the Catholic Worker and the Bruderhof goes back to the earliest days. Dorothy Day first visited the Bruderhof in 1955. We have the same motivation....We seek a moral, authentic way of Christian discipleship.

"We do it in community, in poverty and with a dedication to non-violence in every circumstance: the protection of human life from conception to natural death, and resistance to all forms of war. Our relationship is built on trust, confidence and love, and it will go on."

Marliese Becker of the Focolare lay movement to promote unity among all people, said: "Our relationship with the Bruderhof goes back many years. We who are here today come from Colombia, from Germany, from Spain, from Argentina, from Egypt. We try to turn brotherhood into practice. And so we try to live out mutual love.

"When you live in close quarters, you discover not only the beauty of the others, but also our limits. But we are convinced that, in overcoming those differences in everyday life, we can make a difference overcoming the negativity that's in the world."

(Mr. Johnson, a native of England, lives with his wife, Burgel, at the Maple Ridge Bruderhof. He has worked for many years on relations with the Catholic Church.)





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