New York Encounter for 2014 Delves Into the Meaning of Relationship

The three-day cultural event sponsored by Catholics in the Big Apple teaches people that they can find their identity and fulfillment only in relationships.

(photo: New York Encounter)

NEW YORK — The upcoming New York Encounter cultural festival will explore the dynamic between “I” and “we” — between individuals and community — and how the human person finds fulfillment only in relationship.

The 2014 New York Encounter takes place Jan. 17-19 in Midtown Manhattan, and it is in its fourth year. This year’s theme is “The Time of the Person, the Origins of a People.”

While the event is organized by Catholics, it is meant to be an encounter for all persons.

“People come looking for something beautiful, and, hopefully, they will find it,” said Maurizio Maniscalco, chairman of the New York Encounter.

“It’s a very human and common experience: realizing that you can’t exist by yourself,” he said. “You don’t even call your own name: You need another one to be called.”

Maniscalco explained that relationship is key to a person’s identity, since “only in a relationship” do human beings know what it means to be “I.”

The New York Encounter is organized by the Catholic ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation and by Crossroads Cultural Center. The center aims to explore the relationship between religion and culture and was founded by members of Communion and Liberation.

This year the event features discussions, exhibits and musical performances held over three days at the Manhattan Center, as well as a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Carlo Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The events focus on the tension experienced between the person and community — where the person finds both fulfillment and frustration.

Maniscalco emphasized the importance of searching for truth in receiving what the Event has to offer, saying, “The dynamic of the relationship between the ‘I’ and the other is a journey in itself.”

He reflected on his nearly 35 years of marriage with his wife as a prime example of the “I-thou” relationship.

“We’ve been through a lot; it is a never-ending journey,” he said. “There’s tension, yes — we’re excellent fighters — and at the same time, it’s the acknowledgment of something that has put us together that allows us to not only overcome but embrace the difficulties as a step toward a deeper understanding of what being together is all about.”

He added, “So God willing, all that will be offered during the weekend will encourage us to take on, to continue, a journey like this.”

Noting the variety of the events throughout the weekend, Maniscalco said, “This is like life: We all get struck by something. Like when you fall in love with somebody, there is something in particular that strikes you; and, hopefully, instead of being the beginning and end of the story, it becomes the point of departure.”

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy