When liberation theologian Father Gustavo Gutiérrez was asked to say a few impromptu words at the Maryknoll Centennial Symposium, he expressed gratitude for the work of Maryknoll priests and nuns in his native country of Peru, in particular for their mission of friendship.
“We do not have a true commitment to the poor without friendship,” said Gutiérrez, citing Jesus’ words, “I no longer call you servants… but friends” (John 15:15). “Friends are different but equal…. When we speak about the preferential option for the poor, we have to be close to them. Many people understand the witness of Maryknoll as being friends of the people.”
Plenary speaker Dr. Dana Robert picked up the theme of friendship in her talk Friday afternoon. “Mission as relationship: this is where we have to go now,” said Robert, director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at the Boston University School of Theology. Robert, a United Methodist, had just returned from the interreligious Global Christian Forum in Indonesia.