One Church Many Cultures The Good News of Cultural Diversity Newsletter Spring/Summer 2021
European American Young Adult
A Mosaic of Unity
By Luke Politsky, Director of Development & Stewardship, Diocese of Youngstown
In today’s world when we are challenged to form and develop relationships at a physical distance, Journeying Together has become a gift to me. Meeting virtually throughout the last ten months has enriched my understanding of the diversity of the Church in the United States and ultimately strengthened my own faith life. As I reflect on the spiritual gifts I’ve received during this initiative, my understanding of my own privilege prevails, through different aspects of the word’s meaning in my life.
First, I recognize the privilege of being able to practice and express my faith in an area of the country with so many others whose roots are also in different parts of Europe. I can’t think about the Journeying Together process without picturing the beautiful mosaic in our cathedral in Youngstown, the Cathedral of Saint Columba. The mosaic depicts the Blessed Mother surrounded by sixteen saints of the Church who represent the ethnic and cultural roots of the Diocese of Youngstown.
Often appreciated for its beauty, the mosaic doesn’t get as much attention as it is owed for its symbolism of unity through diversity. These saints represent not only European Americans, but other cultural groups as well, highlighting both our ancestral diversity and our unity through the Church. It reminds us of our roots in different parts of the world, the struggles each saint endured, and how their lives pointed to Christ as the victor.
While the mural is meant for the viewer to connect with one or more saints through a shared ethnic background, the “big picture” is how we all must work together for the Church. They are not separate works of art; they are one. While a prayer for unity is a challenge in itself to us as followers of Christ, we are also called to express the diverse cultural traditions of our faith at the same time.
Considering that my own interactions with fellow Catholics in my area consist of mainly European Americans, Journeying Together has gifted me the great privilege of interacting with and learning from individuals from more diverse groups of Catholics living throughout the United States. It is an honor to listen to stories of panelists’ struggles and successes, to speak with sisters and brothers across cultural groups through small group discussions, and to hear moving reflections from our bishops.
Finally, I acknowledge my privilege as a white Christian man in the United States, which I continue to learn more about each day. I also continually learn about how I can use my privilege to lift others up. I’m grateful that throughout this initiative, I’ve had the opportunity to express my faith journey through the lens of being European American, rather than labeled as simply a white or Caucasian person. I think fondly of my Polish, Italian, Slovak, and Croatian ancestors each day as I remember their struggles, their hopes for a better life, and their dependence on Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.