2009 North American EOC Congress

2009 North American EOC Congress

Communion exists and continues to grow!

by Joan Duggan

EoC_USA_6From August 21 through August 23, the North American meeting of the Economy of Communion in Freedom was held at Mariapolis Luminosa in Hyde Park, NY, USA. This year's meeting, entitled Person-centered business: Hope for Today, Sustainability for Tomorrow, seemed like an explosion of excitement: the presentations were animated and of substance; the updates from around the world were community-building, and the enthusiasm was palpable. This was especially of note since 25 percent of the people were completely new to the EoC project and the spirituality of communion.

EoC_USA_8Among the 65 participants, there were 11 entrepreneurs of the EOC, 8 high-ranking university professors (specialists in the following fields: the social doctrine of the Church, business administration, law, the world of labor and unions), 10 young students, four of whom are interning at EOC businesses, 5 people interested in starting an EoC business, and a few who came because they had read the recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate.

EoC_USA_5During the three days, a complete 360 degree turn around the world of the EoC occurred. Academic presentations came from the theoretical realm as well as from the applied avenue. A first panel, which reflected on the recent encyclical, Charity in Truth, as well as the place of the Economy of Communion in the world today, was described as ”timely and intellectually stimulating.” An update from a professor who offers an EoC course in Texas was greatly appreciated, while a semantic investigation of words that may or may not apply to the Economy of Communion in Freedom turned into a lively exchange among the people that grew and added to a case study research project being investigated by collaborating professors. As one person remarked, “My heart is thrilled and my head is spinning!” 

EoC_USA_3There was an interactive session on Appreciative Inquiry that led to an animated discussion among all participants. Two businesses shared their experiences of how their local communities have begun to become more involved, beginning to help each other and support local efforts. Young people talked about their internship experiences and added that spark of hope that is so vital for the world. Additional reports from businesses expressed time and again the value of relationship, of living this lifestyle where the person is at the center of each action. 

EoC_USA_1We visited Brazil and the Philippines via Skype connections, adding to the sense of family and community. The experience of a person who had been in Fontem, Cameroon, for a number of years brought the experience from Africa alive and allowed us to live it and see what this lifestyle of living for the other has inspired there. This sharing brought us to the heart of the Economy of Communion in Freedom project – without those willing to share their needs, there is no EoC. Another session presented the annual report for 2008-2009, pinpointing where the money came from and where and how it was used throughout the world.

EoC_USA_2Comments from participants reflected that at this meeting everyone was equal:  entrepreneurs, professors, students, “observers”, each person a gift for the other. When asked what portion of the program was most interesting, one person wrote: “I thought the layout of the program – its superstructure – was a masterpiece of modeling the EoC principles – valuing the experience for its own sake, sharing each idea, having time to see the whole picture as well as the concrete details.”  

People left enthused and excited, planning how they could live the EoC principles in their lives, putting into practice this person-centered lifestyle from every corner of the working world, whether as a business person or customer, academic or laborer. We look forward, knowing that each of us has a role to play in living this lifestyle, to offering our contribution.

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