Intimacy-The Heart of Community

intimacyThis article is from the book Building Community by Loughlan Sofield, Rosine Hammet, Carrol Juliano. It deals with the theme of intimacy in community life. The exercises given in this article are helpful for community building.

Jesus wept; and the Jews said, "See how much he loved him!" —John 11:35-36

The issue of intimacy pervades the life of any community and is an essential issue for the group to resolve in order to build commu­nity. As described in the near/far stage in Section I, discovering a level of intimacy appropriate to the community can present a chal­lenge, for within the assembled community, there are differing expectations with regard to intimacy. In addition, each member pos­sesses different needs and capacities for intimacy. Negotiating an intimacy level at which all members can be comfortable is not achieved quickly or without effort. The successful resolution of this stage of development in the group is dependent on whether the members, like Alice, have acquired some capacity for intimacy in their personal lives.

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Transforming Conflicts into Moments of Grace and Gowth

conflict1Students Tom and John are assigned by the superior to organize the annual Christmas program for the residents in the neighborhood. Each year hundreds of people flock to the seminary to watch the program. Soon differences began to surface between the two organizers. Tom wanted to have a change this year and hoped to involve the neighboring children. He was teaching catechism to children in the nearby parish. But John was afraid that it would take lot of time and would interfere with his preparation for the forthcoming exams .He was also not happy with Tom’s ‘dominating’ character. John began to be passive in the meetings of leaders of various groups which Tom convened in order to organize the program. Tom felt the lack of cooperation from John and concluded that John was envious of his social skills. Tom and John went through the Christmas event with a sense of betrayal from each other. The hurt feelings that remained at heart made it difficult for them to team up again for other programs.

 As you read this account, you may be reminded of your own experience of conflict and differences with companions and team mates that might have caused you pain and discouragement. During the initial formation, conflict situations are excellent opportunities to grow in interpersonal relationships and to develop conflict management skills that would stand by you for life.

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The Eight Stages of Community Development

underOften we overlook the fact that a religious community passes through stages of development and many of the struggles of community living are better understood in the light of studies in group development. This article is based on the studies on the developmental processes that take place when people relate with one another in any human group for a significant period.

 Have you even been part of a community that was fun, recre­ative, energizing and growth promoting? Can you identify a community experience that was draining, de-energizing, and stagnant? You can probably answer "yes" to both questions.

Every community experience has the potential to be life-giving or life-draining. The outcome depends on how well the members understand the very normal group dynamics that occur in any community. This knowledge can assist in the devel­opment of more life-giving communities.

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