Interview with Fr. Remigio Morales-Bermúdez
On November 21st, the mosaic ‘That all may be one’ (‘Que todos sean uno’, in Spanish) was inaugurated in the university parish of west central Philadelphia, US, where our brothers work apostolically. This work captures the multicultural spirit of this locality.
For this reason, we spoke with our brother, Fr. Remigio Morales-Bermúdez, who told us more about this mosaic and the importance it has for the devotion of the parishioners.
What motivated the creation of this mosaic?
A donation we received to honor Saint Katharine Drexel, who is a local Philadelphia saint from the 19th century. She dedicated her social work to integrating Native Americans and African Americans. For us, it is a very strong motivation that this donation came largely because of its integration power at a time of great tension in the United States.
It is in this context that we decided to make one to honor Katharine Drexel, but also to integrate other saints so that we can express multiculturalism: how all races and cultures walk together. There we must remember that our spirituality seeks to reconcile, unite, and heal wounds in Christ.
So we have taken advantage of this donation to communicate our charism of reconciliation. An important detail is that we are being inspired by the Gospel according to Saint John, in Jn. 17, when the Lord says at the Last Supper praying to his Father that they all be one. That is the dream of the heart of Christ, that they all be one. Ut unum synt. And that is what it is doing. This is how we have called this mosaic: ‘May they all be one’.
Who does it describe and what does the image represent?
As I tell you, that all be one, from John 17. An integration between the different races, between the different ages, between different cultures, between the Catholics as well. That is why we have in this work of art, in this mosaic, a walk alongside the triumphant Church.
But there are also three characters of the pilgrim Church, of the eternal Church. One is a nurse representing hospitals, those who care in hospitals, nurses, doctors, etc. and especially to those who have suffered greatly in these last two years from the COVID-19 pandemic. The other character is a student who has Asian features, which represents all the students who come looking for a spiritual home. And the third group is a character from the pilgrim Church. She is an adult lady representing adult, local, African American, or Latino parishioners.
There is also Augustine Tolton, who represents, who was requested by African American parishioners. He was the first black priest in America, who was a slave as well.
So what are we communicating through all of this? A movement of unity is a Trinitarian movement, a movement of communion, because in this mosaic everything is active, it is dynamic. We see Jesus Christ who is leading because He is, we walk with Him, following Him and in Him, and He is extended to the Father. He is directed towards the Father and is leading us. And we are walking on a scroll, the scroll of the Word that falls from the upper right corner.
That roll is of white and gold colors. It is a scroll that represents the Word of God, which is Christ, but also the Holy Spirit. We are walking in the Holy Spirit. The golden colors, for the artist, represent the Holy Spirit walking in Him.
This roll is dynamic, it moves. It contains written names of the saints, but already canonized, their names are written in the book of life. A nice detail is that Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is closing the mantle of Christ so that those of us who are in the pilgrim Church do not escape from the path, do not get off the path. In a beautiful detail, it is also that Christ has sores on his hands, his wounds. The way to the Father passes through the wounds of Christ. We must rediscover our wounds, our wounds in Christ, so that we can heal them and we can reach the Father.
How important is this work for the parishioners of the parish?
It is very important because we are telling everyone that our hearts are open to each other and we walk together. It is very important because this mosaic is located in a park where on the other side of the park is the image of Our Lady of Reconciliation. So everything speaks of reconciliation, Our Lady and the mosaic speak of reconciliation, everything is integrating.
The parishioners made decisions in the creation of the mosaic. We had parish councils where we asked them what saints they suggest should be represented, we have given options to which characters from the pilgrim Church we are going to represent in hospitals, how we represent local adults, students, etc. and all have taken part in their opinions.
In what way do you think art helps the apostolate?
Art in general is the most powerful way to reach the heart today, especially, more than plain truth or plain love. Art is the splendor of both.
Art communicates beauty, which is the splendor of truth and love. Then it attracts, through the harmony of its shapes and colors, it attracts through the commotion it produces, the pleasure that beauty produces. It is an art that is beautiful because it contains truth and love, because it is communicating truth and love. What does this mean? That it is communicating communion. Its beauty comes from the fact that it is communicating a Trinitarian reality, a reality of openness, donation and reception. That is what is in the mosaic.
The Father giving himself to the Son, the Son advances, the Father and the Son giving us their life, carrying us, leading us, the Holy Spirit who makes us walk in Him; Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and the saints who give themselves to us, the pilgrim Church who take care of us, intercede for us, protect us so that we do not get out of the way.
In that open dynamic of communion lies its beauty, and that is the beauty of this mosaic. It is a beauty because it is saying we need each other, we are a gift to ourselves. We must constantly meet each other again and address each other in order to address the Father.