Emmanuel Community gathering takes on international flavor

| Susan Klemond | January 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

From left, Dirk Meyer of St. Peter in Mendota, Joanna Statnik of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Bridget Horan of Concord, California, talk Dec. 28 at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul during a gathering of the Emmanuel Community. DAVE HRBACEK/THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT

Young adults from six countries and four states spent four days in St. Paul last month praying and sharing as part of the international Emmanuel Community that strives to grow in holiness.

Members can grow together, Isabella Wijnberg, 35, told about 32 attendees at the gathering at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul. 

“Little choices to do good can be big choices for others and help God to work through us,” said Wijnberg, a community member from Amsterdam. 

As clergy, married, single and consecrated members, the group reflected Dec. 28-31 on the Community’s efforts to respond to God’s call to holiness through its three “pillars” of adoration, compassion and evangelization.

“There’s something that really holds us together,” said Bridget Horan, 30, of Concord, California, who’s been involved in the Community since 2013. “This fraternal love that we have for each other, it is really powerful. It’s something that feels really unique to the Emmanuel Community because we are spread out literally all over the world.”

In the U.S., members live in 17 states; 32 members are in Minnesota, where a community was formed in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1999. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioners Jeremy and Autumn Irlbeck joined the Community about four years ago because they, with their four children, were looking for an intentional way of life, formation and community, said Jeremy, 35.

Father Andrew Brinkman, 34, Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor, first met the Community in 2005 and later joined. He said he enjoys its fraternal aspects. He presides at liturgies and hears confessions but doesn’t lead the local community.

“There’s just a real natural way that we live a communion of states of life, priest: lay people and consecrated men and women,” he said. “In the Emmanuel Community, I get to be a member like everybody else, a brother like everybody else and also a priest.” 

The Community’s young adult gathering in St. Paul was the first in North America, and it drew Community members from as far away as the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Germany, Denmark and Canada. They were also joined by members from South Dakota, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey. 

Inspired by the Catholic charismatic renewal, the Emmanuel Community was founded in France in 1976. Formally a public association of the faithful of pontifical right, it has 11,500 members in 67 countries, including 275 priests and 225 consecrated lay persons.

The late founder, a French layman named Pierre Goursat, sensed that encountering the Lord has
pre-eminent expression in the liturgy, eucharistic adoration and the spirituality of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, said David Neira, 30, the “responsible,” or leader, of the local Community, who discerned his own membership in 2013.

The Community grows through adoration and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, according to its website, emmanuelcommunity.com. 

Community life is multidimensional because of members’ different states in life, Neira said.

All local members meet monthly, and they meet weekly in smaller groups in one of five households, where they share challenges and opportunities in their lives and how they are living the three pillars, Father Brinkman said.

The Irlbecks host a household meeting. Jeremy said it’s helpful that members have the same goal but live it differently. 

“The goal is to really share what the Lord is doing in our lives and hopefully to edify one another through our experiences or what we’re hearing or prayer,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just a funny story of the kids or something inspiring that the kids helped me to see with a new perspective.” 

Members can renew their membership annually, or if they desire a permanent commitment, can enter formation as part of the Community’s Fraternity of Jesus. 

Many of the local Community’s members are under 40. Neira said he hopes Catholics of all ages will discover its uniquely prayerful and fraternal way to holiness.

“It’s a very beautiful and particular way of life that’s lived out in a certain way that, even in a local Church as rich as ours, I would say has some unique gifts to offer,” he said. “I think a community that is really at the heart of the Church but also strives to be at the heart of the world is a gift.”

Want to join the local community? Email emmanuelcommunitymn@gmail.com.

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