When I was young we had a migrant Italian Family living over the back fence but we never really got to know them as much as we knew our other neighbours born and bred in Australia. I had plenty of friends from non-English speaking backgrounds in my primary and secondary schools but again there was a cultural gulf that was never breached.
My first cross-cultural experience was in 1971 when a young Catholic priest, Gerry Medici invited me to a meal at his parents home. Gerry was on his first assignment in Geelong and this was the first time I crossed the cultural threshold into a home that wasa rich with diversity. In my naivety I still remember gazing at the plate and food with ‘foreign’ veggies and wondering what I was eating.
Thanks to a number of years living with the Capuchin Friars, Australia I became immersed into cultural diversity. The first community of men with whom I shared life included some from Poland, Malta, USA, Italy and Switzerland. In the eatrly 1970s I lived in the midst of the growing development of Mount Druitt with families from Northern Ireland among those migrating to the area.
My life has been enriched and blessed by friendships, travel and encounters with those who have “come across the seas”. Today I give thanks for those relationships and future encounters that will continue to be a core value in my life.