When I arrived in Aix on May 17, 1996, Spring was over and it was nigh onto summer. The warm temperatures were welcome as I had left behind a chilly Canadian spring. The huge trees lining the Cours Mirabeau were in full leaf, the beautiful green canopy enticing one to linger in its shade. Sidewalk cafes lined the boulevard and one wanted only to rest awhile, sip a café latte, and enjoy the rich parade of passers-by. Little did I know that my next four days would not allow for any of those things: the May 18-21 1996 Aix Congress, intense, challenging, joyous, was about to start.
As I take a walk down memory lane and revisit the first International Congress of Lay Associates, I am reminded of one of my favorite cartoons. It depicts a nomadic family of four, trekking across desert sands on their camels, the hot sun beating down. The caption is provided by the father as he testily remarks, “Stop asking if we are there yet! We’re nomads, for heaven’s sake!”
Twenty-five years later and about to celebrate a second Congress, I think it is valid to ask: “Are we there yet?” when we consider the goals of that 1st historic gathering. To ask such a question, however, implies that we know where we were meant to go. Over the next days, in a series of blogs, I will share some precious memories of the Congress. They recall the intensive work done simultaneously in three languages, the prayerful liturgies in the Oblate common room, and the playful evening soirees in the Mission House courtyard. They are shaped by Vatican II ecclesiology, and the prophetic wisdom of Oblate Chapter documents. As we consider these, it is my hope that we might better know, “Are we there yet?” and where we might be further called.
Sandra Prather, HOMI