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The ICCJ in Manchester

10/08/2012: United Kingdom | Photo gallery

As many of you know, the annual meeting of the International Conference of Christians and Jews was held in Manchester (U.K.) for the first time in July of this year. The local Committee of CCJ, including Teresa, had been busy planning for the past year and the conference was a great success.

Manchester was chosen as the CCJ began here 70 years ago with a cup of tea at the Midland Hotel. The two ladies who were there at the time Mrs Myra Cohen and Mrs Barbara Aubrey were with us for the Gala dinner in old Trafford and were given a special award. Myra is 102 now and Barbara is 97! Their presence was a reminder of the wonder of beginning with small and humble things.

The theme of the conference was “New Neighbours, New Opportunities; the Challenges of Multiculturalism and Social Responsibility.” There were 185 participants from all over the world. Geographical, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity were evident in topics as well as those contributing as keynote speakers workshop leaders. We had a workshop with a Sion panel sharing the experiences of Friends and sisters from all over the world. The panel included  Mark Walsh (Australia) and Maria Cecilia Piccoli (Brazil), both Friends of Sion, Anne Brittain (Philippines), Celia Deutsch (U.S.) and Alexandra Vega (Costa Rica).  The larger group of Sion participants included Oonah O’Shea and Clare Jardine (Rome), Audrey Gerwing (Canada), Sylvia Obrigewitsch (Canada), Patricia Watson (Australia),  Anne Bickford (U.K.) and Margaret Sheppard (UK).

The local committee arranged other meetings with people from Manchester, so the Abrahamic forum (Jews Christians and Muslims) attended Mass at the Sisters’ parish on the Sunday and met up with parishioners. We had a wonderful evening with Friends of Sion, both actual and new on the Monday evening when we had a sharing of the stories of all the sisters and their reflections. The whole conference was followed by the Sion Day, when Friends and sisters reflected on their experience of the conference, from the perspective of their own contexts. We were also joined by Trina Ulrich, a sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth from Chicago (U.S.) on the last day of the conference and the Sion Day.

Preparation for the conference represented an entire year of hard work for the Committee. It was, however, a great experience of team cooperation. Every member of the Committee was involved and many of the Jewish community housed guests as did Father Paul who put up the Polish priests from Auschwitz in the presbytery. The experience changed the face in the local area as Friends came also as volunteers and were thrilled to meet participants and be able to link to the workshops and conferences when possible. It was a wonderful event and we can build upon the experience here in our local area.

Brenda Dorrian, from the Manchester community,  is Administrator of Katherine House, a conference centre in Manchester belonging to the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Eleven of our people were able to stay there. It made an ideal setting for making “a Sion International community” – as Alexandra remarked “it was a lived experience of reconfiguration!”

You can access the conferences on the ICCJ website www.iccj.org.

Thanks to all who made this possible, especially Brenda and Anne McNally. 
Teresa Brittain (Manchester, U.K.)
Celia Deutsch (Brooklyn, U.S.A.)