One Church Many Cultures The Good News of Cultural Diversity Fall/Winter 2020 Issue


The Journeying Together Experience

By: John Grosso

John Grosso

Growing up, I was taught that engaging in active dialogue and listening attentively were the best ways to understand another’s story. Through my years studying at Boston College, I was taught that we must confront the realities of our own shortcomings in good faith, or no real change will occur. It is through those lenses that I approach my vantage point as an Irish/Italian American participating in the USCCB’s intercultural experience, Journeying Together.

I have found this innovative process to be both personally enlightening and powerfully emotional. I have been blessed to hear the perspectives and realities of my brothers and sisters from many diverse cultural backgrounds and challenged to confront my own complicity in the societal structures that cause injustice or inequality. The conversations happening - both in the larger body and in breakout groups - have been tough, but necessary, and the speakers have shown extraordinary generosity in their analysis. Personally, I have appreciated the authentic and vulnerable comments offered by many as we seek to confront and end racism and bigotry in our country, and in our Church.

Listening has been a critical component of this process for me. As a white male who grew up in a progressive, suburban area of the country, I was fortunate to have had friends of all different races and ethnicities. We learned about the civil rights movement and the struggle for justice that is still ongoing in our nation, but I always thought that racism and bigotry were problems that happened somewhere else.

When considering my life and experiences through the lens of my faith, and through the conversations that have started in Journeying Together, I have come to name the naïve belief from my childhood that racism had ended. I have also become more aware that white privilege, something that was always there but which I failed to see or understand until this recent crisis, was a part of my own experience. Though it has been a difficult realization, I have learned that I lived in ignorance of an issue that so profoundly affects the day-to-day life of my brothers and sisters of color.

Journeying Together has helped me confront that reality. I suspect others have confronted their own shortcomings as well, whatever they may be. The genius of it all is that we don’t have to do it alone – guided by our mutual Catholic faith, we get to literally “journey together” – accompanying each other, challenging each other, listening to one another, and walking with our brothers and sisters towards a brighter future. I am profoundly grateful to be a part of this important endeavor.