Save

Bypassing the Social Distance: International Catholic Community, Friendship, and Homemaking among Expatriates in Brno

In: Journal of Religion in Europe
Authors:
Milan Fujda Dept. for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, milky@mail.muni.cz

Search for other papers by Milan Fujda in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Michaela Ondrašinová Dept. for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, michaela.ondr@mail.muni.cz

Search for other papers by Michaela Ondrašinová in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Miroslav Vrzal Dept. for the Study of Religions, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, miroslav.vrzal@mail.muni.cz

Search for other papers by Miroslav Vrzal in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Full Access

Abstract

We analyze the role of intimate social ties and community in the processes of homemaking and social integration of highly skilled migrants who are members of the local international Catholic community in Brno, Czech Republic. We use the concepts of bonding and bridging social capital developed by Michael W. Foley and Dean R. Hoge and follow their attention to the effects of the worship communities’ organizational culture on migrants’ integration. In the article, we show that the Catholic community mediates its members’ homemaking efficiently by providing them with rich bonding social capital, generated through close social ties in the community. However, it does not provide them with enough bridging social capital, and their social integration, thus, remains restricted to the company of international fellows. We compare it with the strategies of homemaking used by settling migrants who have integrated more successfully into the Czech social environment.

1 Introduction

Within the contemporary global economy, masses of people leave their homes and reach new places to resettle for work opportunities. For a migrant, making the new place home is a challenge. A home “is a place, a site in which we live” but at the same time “an idea and an imaginary that is imbued with feelings […] of belonging, desire and intimacy.”1 To settle down means to invest great effort into building “complex socio-spatial relations and emotions that define home” alongside reconstructions of one’s sense of identity.2

Such conditions framed our applied research project, conducted to address the needs of the Brno Expat Centre (bec), an organization providing free assistance (in English and French) to ‘expatriates’ in Brno.3 The project aimed to collect the reflections of expatriates on their quality of life in Brno, map their needs, and find out what factors influence their decision to settle down in Brno on a long-term basis or move on. In this context, we attempted to unpack their struggles for homemaking and for the reconstruction of identity that is bound with it.

We address the feeling of being ‘at home’ as a form of bonding to a place in time. This bond is connected with a sense of belonging and can be viewed as an aspect of social integration into a particular socio-space.4 In a biograph ical sense, it allows one to connect her/his future projections to that particular socio-space and to develop a local attachment.5 The achievement or lack thereof of a feeling of being ‘at home’ may thus influence the decision to stay at the new place of residence or to leave it. We call the process of struggling to develop the feeling of being ‘at home’ and its accompanying sense of comfort and belonging ‘homemaking.’ Instead of trying to tackle the many diverse aspects of homemaking in detail, we focus on the establishment of social ties by migrants outside their households as support for their efforts to settle in the locality, as constituted by social relations and their effects.6

As we will show, the crucial aspect of the homemaking process is the ability to establish intimate social relationships, usually termed by participants as ‘a friendship.’ This is consistent with the findings of Gracia Liu-Farrer, who assigns intimacy a key role in homemaking and developing a sense of belonging among immigrants in Japan, or Maja Povrzanović Frykman and Katarina Mozetič’s statement that not the number of connections but the quality of friendship matters most among foreign physicians living in Southern Sweden.7

In our research, the international Catholic community assembled around the only English Roman Catholic Mass in Brno proved to be a surprisingly efficient facilitator of homemaking among its members by mediating friendship ties among them. We, therefore, pay special attention to the causes of this efficiency in the specific conditions of Brno. We also reflect on the limitations of the homemaking process through this community, as we have noticed that it works efficiently mainly for childless migrants without plans for long-term settlement and that it marks only an important phase in the life trajectories of settling immigrants.

Against the background of this setting, we attempt to analyze how faith, friendship, and community interact, in a particular social environment of Brno, to foster the homemaking of Catholic internationals. The identification of a rich network of factors operating in this process of homemaking makes us reluctant to define our theme in terms of ‘the role of religion in homemaking.’ The setting in which we attempt to operate may be adequately termed as a “composite formation” or a “polymorphous reality,” and we intend to understand how this reality is composed.8 Our analysis, therefore, thematizes relationships between loneliness, community and its organizational culture, friendship, local attachment, social ties, feeling of being ‘at home,’ faith, worship, self-identification, the language barrier, and social integration.

We do not pay attention to the importance of the church’s mobilization effort or political mediation, nor to the maintaining of religious transnational ties with places of origin, nor to religio-cultural symbolism employed in creating a familiar home environment.9 By speaking about the role of the international Catholic community in Brno in the process of members’ homemaking, we touch upon the topic of the established churches’ responses to migration.10 Our approach is analogical to Michael W. Foley and Dean R. Hoge’s idea of studying the role of “worship communities” in the process of social integration of immigrants.11

Foley and Hoge point out that the effect of the community’s mediation of individuals’ integration into the wider society depends greatly on its organizational culture, leadership, and theological tradition as well as the demographic characteristics of the immigrant group and circumstances of migration to the particular region.12 When discussing the organizational cultures of worship communities, they follow Penny Edgell Becker’s typology of congregations.13 Her community model of congregations exactly characterizes the features of the community we have studied. She shows that this type of organization of congregational life fosters the development of intimate social ties and that such communities suit highly mobile professionals.14

Besides this, we use Foley and Hoge’s notions of bonding and bridging social capital embedded in worship communities. By providing members access to this capital, the worship communities create opportunities “to broaden their circle of acquaintance, providing resources of support, mutual aid, and access to jobs and other benefits” and, thus, help them to integrate socially.15 While bonding social capital is linked to the existence of close social ties and related resources within the community itself, bridging social capital indicates the ability of the community to link its members to people, communities, institutions, and resources beyond its confines and, thus, to anchor them in wider social networks.16

We show that the international Catholic community in Brno provides its members moral, psychological, and material support as a kind of bonding social capital generated through close mutual social ties.17 In this way, it mediates their homemaking efficiently. However, it does not provide them with enough bridging social capital. Thus, their integration remains selective, restricted to the company of internationals.18

In the following sections, we (1) introduce Brno as an immigration destin ation; (2) present the methodology of our research; (3) show the migrants’ troubles making friends with local natives; (4) present their relief from isol ation after reaching the international Catholic community; (5) explain how the community fosters homemaking by facilitating intimate ties; (6) how the community helps to reconstruct their identities and sense of belonging; and (7) why the community intensifies their faith. Finally, (8) we show the limitations of the community’s orientation towards expatriates in a narrow sense and point to different strategies of homemaking used by settling migrants, who integrate successfully into the Czech social environment in later phases of their life trajectories.

2 Brno and Highly Skilled Migration

The city of Brno in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic has recently become a destination for highly skilled migration.19 According to Daniel Topinka et al., the number of foreigners in the Brno labor market has been growing rapidly since 2011 as a result of the establishment of branches of big international companies like ibm, RedHat, Honeywell, and others. These, in turn, have come to Brno due to the innovative potential of its five universities. The universities, at the same time, attract many international students.20

Foreigners account for seven percent of Brno’s population, and a quarter of them have a university degree.21 According to The Great Brno Expat Survey, the highly skilled migrants come from all the world’s continents, yet more than one-half of them are EU citizens. Their most common citizenships (ranked in descending order) are Slovak, Romanian, Greek, American, British, Russian, Indian, Italian, Polish, and Ukrainian.22

The recent history of highly skilled workers’ migration to Brno is reflected in the age composition of the expatriate population. People twenty-five to thirty-four years of age make up more than half (fifty-four percent) of bec’s registered clients (N=3895). People between thirty-five and forty-four form twenty-three percent of clients, and the ratio of those even younger (eighteen to twenty-four) is fourteen percent. Only the remaining nine percent are between forty-five and sixty-four years of age. This also implies that Brno’s and bec’s preoccupation with the second generation of immigrants nowadays is predominantly regarding pre-school, primary, and secondary education. Statistically, only twenty-three percent of bec’s clients (N=2851) have children. It is also important that forty-four percent of the clients are singles while thirty-two percent live in a (childless) partnership.23 In short, most skilled foreigners working and living in Brno are either young singles starting their career, young couples, or young families with children in the earlier stages of education.

The local population is ethnically homogeneous, and especially non-white foreigners are easily recognizable. Another important feature of this migrant destination is the Slavic language that is seen by foreigners (of non-Slavic origin) as (1) incredibly difficult to learn; and (2) marginal in terms of usability beyond the Czech Republic. This is amplified by the fact that the working language in global corporations in Brno is mostly English. The problem of the language barrier outside the working environment is exacerbated by the low readiness of Czechs to speak English. The language barrier increases the distance between the locals and the foreigners and complicates the development of the migrants’ feeling of belonging.

3 Methodology and Field

Our applied research was conducted for the Brno Expat Centre. This shaped our aims and approaches. Our research goal from the perspective of the bec was to collect information concerning the needs, principal problems, and overall quality of life of its actual and potential clients. This information was collected for two basic purposes: (1) to improve bec’s services; and (2) to gain expertise for (regional) policy formation.

We employed a narrative approach in our interviews, which focused on the personal biography of relocation, settling, and dwelling. While aiming to grasp various aspects of the quality of life of the respondents, we used, furthermore, a checklist of topics to cover in our conversations: work, housing, services, bureaucracy, assistance, health, family, relationships and friendships, lifestyle and its changes, traditions, identity, and sense of belonging. From this broad focus, the issue of homemaking emerged from the data itself. The same applies to the centrality of intimate social ties in homemaking.

Our participants contacted us after encountering an invitation to join the study, which reached them through some of the virtual social networks used by foreigners in Brno or after being contacted through bec’s client database. Some contacted us after being told about the study by an already interviewed acquaintance. In terms of diversity of ethnicities and places of origin, our sample reflects the rich diversity of Brno’s migrant population.

Our invitation for participation was formulated in English in terms of “sharing an experience with living in Brno.” The ability to communicate in English was a part of our working definition of an expatriate.

Altogether, our analysis is based on thirty-seven interviews. Nine with Roman Catholics; ten interviewees self-identified as atheists, agnostics, or indifferent; five Protestants; four Muslims; three identifying as undefined spiritual; two Orthodox Christians; and one Greek Catholic. In this text, we focus mainly on the interviews with the Catholic participants and use the rest as an analytical background. Their countries of origin were Greece, Bulgaria, USA, Ireland, Sweden, Great Britain, Ukraine, Philippines, Turkey, India, Italy, New Zealand, Hungary, Egypt, Colombia, Syria, Tanzania, Serbia, and Poland. Among their occupations, engineering, managerial, marketing, and administrative positions (mostly in it) dominated, but there were also English teachers, a piano teacher, a designer, the head of an education consultancy, and university staff and PhD students, as well.

In addition to the interviews, we use data from a world café with eight participants divided into two groups.24 Each group separately discussed three topics: (1) arrival in Brno; (2) reasons for the decision to stay / not to stay in Brno; and (3) living among locals. During the group discussions, participants in each group highlighted key issues and ideas in notes written on flip charts. In a subsequent general discussion, each group’s notes were debated.

After identifying the key role of the community of faith among Catholic interviewees, we added a focus group with four international Catholics attending English Masses to the portfolio of our methods. This focus group thematized the possibilities for practicing one’s faith tradition in Brno and the role of the community. Before we organized the focus group, we also attended, ethnographically, Sunday English Masses.

4 Troublesome Friendships: Isolation and Loneliness

Narratively, a desire to belong or absence of belonging manifests as “a longing of intimacy and social inclusion” in terms of friendship.25 At the same time, the importance of local social ties is acknowledged in sociology as a mediator of local attachment.26 Friendship, in this context, is linked primarily with strong ties and associated with emotional support, small services, and companionship.27

To establish friendship ties with locals is difficult for foreigners in Brno, however. Participants in our research felt mostly safe in Brno and thematized the helpfulness and kindness of the local folk but contrasted these experiences with the ‘cool’ and formal behavior of locals. “They are friendly, but they are not friends,” said Deepak, an Indian participant who hasn’t developed a sense of belonging after thirteen years of stay and planned to return to India.28

Expatriates also articulated a difference between the ways Czechs relate to each other and to foreigners: “[E]ven if they make you [as an international person] a friend, it’s different friendship from what they have among themselves,” pronounced David, a young Israeli living in Brno with his Czech girlfriend.29

The language barrier is an important part of this trouble. Lack of ability to communicate in Czech complicates spending leisure time with locals. The low readiness of Czechs to communicate in English is part of the problem. This difficulty results in a preference for foreigners to socialize predominantly among themselves.

The group’s international composition and the chance to meet others, communicate in English, and be understood is a great value in itself for the members of the international Catholic community. This is visible in the accounts of the international Catholics about their situation before they encountered the community assembled around the only English Catholic Mass in Brno. This community helped them to feel ‘at home’ in Brno. How is it possible? What have they struggled with before attending the English Mass and what did they get there?

5 Discovering Community: Relief from the Isolation

Although information about the English Mass in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the city center is available on the Internet, on bec’s website, for example, many international Catholics discovered it by word of mouth. Before discovering the English-language worship community, they often struggled with the Masses in Czech and the social isolation they felt there.

Finding the English Mass is therefore narrated as a great “relief” from the frustration arising from being constantly present in an unfamiliar environment filled with the sounds of an unknown language: “[M]y husband took me to the English Mass and then I happened to meet this community, which was a relief. Like finally, you have somebody you can talk to, who can understand you,” said Christine from Tanzania, who is married to a Czech and was then living in a small town near Brno in the house of his parents, when describing her first attendance of the English Mass.30

The language barrier and corresponding feeling of social isolation significantly informed the beginning of her stay in the Czech Republic. In the international social environment among the local foreign Catholics, she was able to overcome this isolation.31 Neither her in-laws nor her neighbors were able to speak English. She described her feelings at this initial phase of her post-migratory life as “drowning”:

“You know, you see people coming home in the evening and in the morning disappearing, and you say: ‘Where are they going? In which world are they now?’ So, when you knew it, you kind of imagine all these things. You go somewhere, you just don’t understand […] the train station and you just hear all this language ‘příští zastávka’ [next stop], ‘hlavní nádraží’ [main train station] and you say: ‘What is this my goodness? What is going on?’ So, it’s kind of drowning.”32

Once during the Czech Mass, by chance, she encountered a couple with an English Bible in their hands. By speaking to them, she learned about the existence of the English Catholic Masses in Brno, which resulted in her relieving visit. This relief was soon accompanied by another key moment—present also in the narratives of other Catholic migrants in Brno—meeting the community. The Church of the Virgin Mary, for the international Catholics, is a node through which networks of social contacts—acquaintances and friendships—are established. “In English Mass, I have a lot of friends. It’s very good; it’s a very good community there,” continued Christine.33

Her story connects all the issues central to the understanding of the role of the international Catholic community in Brno in the post-migration stage and, eventually, the homemaking of its members: (1) bypassing the language barrier; (2) establishing acquaintances and friendships; and (3) gaining the possibility to experience Mass in a fully satisfactory way. This experience apparently could not be provided to international Catholics by the Czech Mass.

While the sacrament is theologically the same irrespective of the liturgical language, practically speaking, the difference between the Czech and English Masses is dramatic for foreign participants. Pedro, a young childless it specialist from Peru living in Brno with his wife Rachel, explained why:

One of the problems we used to have in the Czech Masses was that nobody spoke English, so we used to just go, listen to Mass and after that nothing more, you know. It’s like just going for shopping—you go, pay, and after that nothing more. But when we started going to that English Mass we found friends and after we started making friends, we can talk about some things you know, and thank goodness I found that English community Mass.34

As Rachel said, they expected somebody would reach out to them after the Mass and start the conversation, but that did not happen, and they felt lonely.35

At first, we thought that it was ‘Catholicism’ that drove the immigrants into the Catholic community. But Pedro and Rachel and others showed that we were wrong. Not ‘Catholicism’ per se but a need to experience the sacrament regularly made them attend Czech Mass. But the experience was too frustrating. The sacrament itself was valid but bound with the experience of isolation and loneliness it could not be satisfying. The discovery of the international Catholic community was such a relief because one was suddenly welcomed, approached in a friendly way, and able to communicate and be understood. The attendance of the Mass changed from anonymous ‘shopping’ to a satisfying experience of sharing something of utmost personal significance with like-minded and welcoming others.

6 Engagement and the Supportive Community

Christine, Rachel, and Pedro—as well as other informants who attended the English Masses—used the word ‘community’ repeatedly. When we asked about practical help with everyday troubles and issues from the worship community, some participants acknowledged help with finding a flat or with repairing things at home, and others admitted they might need such help in the future.36 However, it was clear that practical help was not the main motive around which the ‘community’ was established and maintained. Friendship ties and overcoming social and linguistic isolation were the primary tropes stressed repeatedly by the informants. Why? How is the community able to mediate friendship?

According to Foley and Hoge, organizational culture and leadership, together with theological tradition, significantly inform the ways ‘communities of worship’ integrate their members into civic life and help them construct identities in a new social environment.37 In the case of the international Catholic community, an analysis of its organizational culture and leadership on the background of its history allows us to explain much about how it facilitates the homemaking of its members. It seems that a great deal of the ability of this community to facilitate friendships, a sense of belonging, and feeling ‘at home,’ can be located in the way it handled its shaky beginnings during its formation. With such a fragile foundation, the community grew slowly and organically from the needs of its members and developed its culture of support, friendship, and communitarian engagement, which translated into strong bonding social capital embedded in the community.38 These traits are the marks of community congregations, as Becker analyzes it.39 Becker also emphasizes that such communities respond “to the life experience of the highly mobile professionals and business people who make up the bulk of the lay leadership.”40

The fragile beginnings of the international Catholic community in Brno date to the year 2006. Sister Megan, a vital Irish nun, now turning eighty, who lived as a missionary in Brno and was responsible for pastoral care for the local international Catholics, was asked by a Jesuit priest serving in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary for help with the organization of an English Mass. He was ready to serve the liturgy but not interested in pastoral care. For the first six months, the number of attendants was so small that the two discussed quitting the whole project but decided to continue.41 The service was moved from the main church to a small chapel above it. Since then up to now, members have called themselves the “Upper Room Community.”42 The service moved back to the main church five years later due to growth in the congregation. Nowadays, some thirty to fifty people attend Mass each Sunday at 12:15.

While the priest serves the liturgy, Sister Megan, in cooperation with the parishioners, prepares the program of the Mass. Lacking the will to be fully responsible for the parish, she started the project by involving every member in active participation in the organization of its life.

Today, ethnographically speaking, the Mass is strongly participative and communitarian. Attendants start to come around half an hour before the start. They prepare equipment (microphones and keyboard), distribute reading materials, a book of hymns, and sheets with songs and prayers for the day, and punctually practice choir singing for the upcoming event. During the rite itself, the priest serves his part with the assistance of a catechist while other volunteers perform assigned tasks of reading, speaking, and praying during other parts of the liturgy. Everyone who wants to participate actively has his/her ‘little job’ during the planning, preparation, and performance of the Mass as well as in community activities in general. The meeting comes to a close with announcements by the priest, Sister Megan, and various participants, and, after this, the newcomers are welcomed and asked to introduce themselves. Many participants leave soon after Mass. But the core group of mostly childless people (ten to fifteen) has a collective lunch in a nearby restaurant and a collective program (e.g., a walk, sightseeing, etc.) afterwards.

Organization of the Mass and other activities of the community are based on decisions made in the community council. Sister Megan described the leadership as following a “feminine model,” decentralized, with decisions based on consensus rather than on a majority vote.43 Some activities (like charity, child liturgy, the isolated women’s group, and marriage preparation) are organized separately in special groups. But the council never delegates any activity to a group from above. No activity is started unless some of the active members take the initiative and responsibility to carry it on.

The culture of voluntary active participation has developed since the early Upper Room period when all the members knew each other by name, and each had a task in the organization of events. Until now, it has remained a “very close-knit community” despite growing numbers of Mass attendants.44 Apart from the above-mentioned activities, the community also organizes collective celebrations of Christian feasts, spiritual retreats, Christian meetings, and collective trips.

Until today, the welcoming of newcomers has remained a stable part of the Mass and also the final organizational responsibility of Sister Megan, who is slowly reducing her engagement in the community. She connects this responsibility with her mission: “being with a person and listening to their story and let them talk about their lives and maybe whatever problems they have…” and to connect those who can provide help and support to one another.45

People who come to the Mass have various needs that may be best addressed by the communitarian approach. The main beneficiaries of this communitarian support are isolated individuals and couples of working foreigners. Sister Megan repeatedly contrasted their situation to the situation of foreign students:

Students are really not so bad because students make friends in college, students easily connect. But young working people, they can go to work, they can make certain links with their colleagues, but sometimes they say they go to the office and the Czechs will speak between themselves even though they know the person is not Czech speaking. […] So people can feel isolated. […] And what they find [through the Upper Room Community] is friendship; they find support.46

In this sense, the English Mass is a contact point. People who attend it are immediately welcomed, and, after introducing themselves, they may be connected with other people with similar troubles with life in Brno. Possibilities for further connections follow if they attend the common lunch and after-church program.

7 International Belonging and Friendship Ties

Membership in immigrant worship communities is often based on ethnicity.47 Cecilia Menjívar, nevertheless, argues that while Protestant evangel ical communities tend to be ethnically bound, Catholic groups tend towards pan-ethnic composition more often due to the transnational character of the Catholic Church.48 The Catholic community in Brno embodies the diversity of the Brno migrant population, and its members value its international, multi-ethnic, and multicultural composition. In such an environment, they feel comfortable. Nagma, a female Indian student of medicine from the United Arab Emirates, felt isolated despite living in the international environment of the university. The international students, she said, grouped along ethnic lines, but Indians were few: “When I came into the [international Catholic] community with people from different cultures and backgrounds I could relate to them more. So, this is something that kept me in this community,” she continued.49

Pedro mentioned another crucial aspect of sharing the community with other internationals, namely the migratory experience. Common to all migrants, it may work as a source of collectivity and relatedness: “it’s [that] we have something to talk about.”50 Relating to international people of diverse origins and sharing the migratory experience across a diversity of backgrounds and ethnicities are two important features on which the international Catholic community is based.

Besides that, sense of belonging is produced through active engagement in communitarian activities. These activities, as we have already shown, cover all aspects of the community’s life.

The mutual connection of members through intimate ties is supported by collective engagement in pastoral activities organized for the whole parish. The parishioners participate in the organization and take part in spiritual retreats, pilgrimages, and collective festival celebrations. For Sahil, a young Indian, this creates the feeling of being in a “family” and reduces the feelings of loneliness:

And we sometimes also celebrate together the festivals like Easter, and last year we had a special dinner for Thanksgiving, and I think when we do these things together, it becomes more like a family, because everybody is here alone, and some of them are missing their family members, so when they do not have anyone to celebrate with, I think it helps to have some more people who can come together.51

Besides the activities organized by the parish, diverse ‘non-official’ and spontaneous activities arising from the need to spend free time in the company of others are of key importance for strengthening and maintaining friendship ties. When talking about the community, our informants spoke often about these types of activities. Having lunch together after Mass is just the beginning. Spontaneous or planned walks through the city, sightseeing, collective trips, or just chatting in a café follow, and, in participants’ narratives, such activities are related to their feelings of inclusion. Sahil explained:

[…] from time to time we meet on Sundays and we plan something for Saturdays so that all the future weeks we would go somewhere. Or after we eat on Sunday, we usually go somewhere for coffee or somewhere. So, I think it’s nice to have some company of people so you can try new places […] because everyone is alone, nobody wants to go alone, but when we are together it’s nicer, and the company is also good. So, we go to new places each time.52

But these activities do more. Through the planning for future weekends as mentioned by Sahil, they bind the members to a local socio-space by providing them with visions that enable them to transform their lives in the locality from the mode of day-to-day existence to a mode based on a meaningful future. Pedro expressed it very clearly:

Other people take us to improve our lives because we are not just living the Sunday, we are living the future, you know. We are living what we are going to do next week, next month, […] even if in the end we don’t do that. It’s good to know that at least someone wants to go somewhere like you and maybe you can plan to do something in the future […] So, as I said it changed a lot of my life.53

The companionship provided by friends in combination with the ability to project one’s future produces local attachment and a sense of belonging. This creates a striking contrast between the Indian, mentioned earlier, who was ready to move back to India after thirteen years of struggling and the bold statement by Pedro pronounced six months after reaching Brno:

After my experience here, I feel more confident going to whatever country. For instance, I can go to Japan or to the United States. I can go there because I am sure I will find at least a small community, Christian community there. So, I think the Christian community is not just about a city; the Christian community is all over the world and the meaning of that is that you can go wherever you want, and if you find a Christian community there, you will feel like home there. And it happens to us here because we feel like home in this Christian community.54

He was excited by speaking about his life among Catholic fellows in Brno, as if he forgot the frustration he went through while attending Czech Masses. It is important to note that his ‘home-like’ feeling was limited to the confines of the international Catholic community. Even though it made his life in Brno more comfortable and meaningful, we cannot take it as a sign of an overall sense of belonging to the new environment. We will come back to the issue of the limited extent of social integration through the international Catholic community in Brno later.

8 Strengthening the Faith and Homemaking in an ‘Atheist’ Society

After reading our account of the role of the Upper Room Community in overcoming social isolation and developing a sense of belonging, one might say that many different communities of various types would mediate the same effect. Even one of our participants, Vinay from Tamil Nadu, voiced this opinion: “[C]ommunity helps you everywhere, whatever the community.”55 In the last part of this paper, we will show that he is basically right. Still, there are very good reasons for an opposing statement phrased again by Pedro. He emphasized the special status and great significance of the community of faith, which cannot be substituted by any other type of community.56 The two statements are not in mutual opposition. We might more appropriately say that Pedro’s statement forces us to point out in what sense the Catholic community differs from other possibilities that could facilitate successful homemaking too.

Why is the Upper Room so different? For Pedro, friendship ties within the community are interwoven with “remembering his faith” and “practicing” it. The social and spiritual aspects of his commitment are interconnected and support each other. Having friends in the community strengthens his faith, and his faith contributes to maintaining and developing his social ties within the community:

It happened to me that when I don’t have friends or somebody who I know to practice my common faith, I start losing my practicing […] because there is no sense to go there [to the Mass] if you don’t feel that you will find someone there. Of course, our faith says that Christ is there, but I think we are humans, we need somehow the presence of another human there, [someone who] can tell you ‘we miss you’ or ‘what happened; you weren’t here’ or something like that.57

Limiting the focus only to the mediation of friendship or the bypassing of social isolation would, thus, neglect an important layer of what being a member of the community means for the participants and their homemaking. In the context of the Czech Republic, the international Catholic community provides its members a safe environment for expressing their relation to God and sharing notions of a good life.

Although we often heard from our informants (Catholic or otherwise) that Czech society was liberal and tolerant to diverse beliefs and opinions, we have also encountered uncertainty and hesitation related to the public expression of faith. A question presented to a researcher during the focus group with international Catholics is illustrative: “[Do] you, as a Czech person, look at us, at Christian people, like crazy fanatic persons or something like that?”58

Such an expression shows a measure of uncertainty, which usually is, nevertheless, accompanied by doubt that most Czechs are indeed ardent atheists. For people identifying themselves through faithful living and trusting God, the wider social setting remains unclear. But they feel a need to share their faith. They do so safely within the community. However, the need to share with the surrounding society exists, too, and there is a safe way to do so. As many of the Catholics from Brno told us, they avoided speaking about their faith publicly. But they did not feel any need to suppress the public expression of their faith through moral acts. We heard this with reference to raising children, and we heard this with reference to the practice of charity in the Upper Room Community as well.

The charity group is one of the community’s special subgroups. Rachel and Pedro were two of its volunteers. The task of the charity group is to properly distribute collected donations, ideally through direct contact with the beneficiaries. This way the community seeks exchange with the wider society.59

There is yet another crucial element in the identity construction of international Catholics in Brno. This one transforms the secular reputation of the new home into a chance to renew or intensify one’s own faith. This aspect of identity reconstruction is based on the contrast between an empty church inciting the creation of a small, active, and close-knit community of faith here in Brno and the anonymous “crowd” of a packed church where people assemble by habit and so is devoid of the experience of community:

For me, back home it’s a little different because during Sunday Masses the churches are usually full, and there are people standing outside of the church and listening to Mass. So, when I came here first for Mass it was a little of a shock to me because there was barely anyone in the church. But I feel like when there is a larger crowd, there is no sense of community somehow. So, over here there is a sense of community and understanding as compared to back home for me.60

Against this background, the focus group participants said they came to feel that their engagement in faith was more intense in Brno compared to their place of origin.61 Intensified faith and practice facilitated by active engagement in community life and the sense of belonging mediated by strong ties with the other members made the personal life in Brno meaningful and satisfying. The relationship with wider society, however, remained rather symbolic.

Active engagement in charity might link the members of the community to the world beyond its confines. It might work as an opportunity to develop what Foley and Hoge call bridging social capital. However, the wider society remains an unsafe space for expressing the identity of the faithful. The implicit expression of such identity through valuable charity deeds, without an accompanying word of faith, is the only safe mode of doing so. At the same time, our informants’ engagement in charity did not break through the language barrier. Ultimately, it reassures the members of their Catholic values and identity among themselves but does not cross the distance towards the locals.62 So, the activity with a bridging potential rather bonds the members together—the bridging potential is, thus, turned into bonding capital. We can say that the Catholic community facilitates the homemaking of its members by creating means to bypass social integration among Czechs. Learning and using the local language—a condition that is sine qua non for full social integration—does not constitute, then, a pressing issue for the members. It serves them primarily as expatriates in a narrow sense. For the migrants intending to settle down in Brno, the community, however, provides invaluable support throughout the initial phase of their struggle for integration.

9 Limitations of the International Catholic Friendship

The sense of belonging and comfort provided by participation in the Upper Room Community seems to be mediated through the commitment of time and effort. For families or individuals seeking integration into Czech society, this effect may be limited to a period before their time and effort get consumed in other relationships, notably with kin, kids, and local acquaintances.

Narratively, this took the form of a complaint that the schedule of the English Mass was not easily reconcilable with family life.63 The community had shifted the times in the past, and, finally, the time of 12:15 on Sundays was settled as the most appropriate “especially for the young people who are the majority.”64

But for families, coordinating the Mass with the time of the Sunday midday meal may be troublesome. Possible solutions to the trouble are to make the family schedule fit, to make Mass attendance less frequent, or to start to attend Czech Masses instead. All these possibilities were variously applied by the participants in our research. The Mass time was prioritized over the family schedule only in the case of a Filipino participant whose family ties, neighborhood ties, and connections with acquaintances were comfortably maintained in English, who worked remotely for an American company, whose experience of the home was strongly bound with Filipino Catholicism, and whose need for Mass attendance was likened to the “drinking of water.”65 For all the other participants, the scheduling conflict eventually meant at least a loosening of the bond with the international Catholic community.

When the bond to the community is loosened, friendships and acquaintances need to be established elsewhere if the feelings of being ‘at home,’ belonging, and local attachment are to be preserved. Sociologists studying place attachment have found that another two types of ties are important, ties with neighbors and kin.66 These ties bolster feelings of comfort by way of emotional support, help, and small services that make everyday life easier. If ties in the neighborhood or with Czech friends or kin are to be established, eventually the language barrier must be dealt with differently than by simply bypassing it.

Longer-term migrants may need to deal with the Czech-speaking relatives of their partners, with Czech workers if renovating a house or flat, with the partner’s friends shifting easily into Czech while chatting, and with Czech neighbors and acquaintances not speaking English. Fluency in Czech may be desired to understand Czech co-workers in mixed work teams or to understand colleagues during some regular leisure-time activity.67

The experiences of the settling immigrants show that the ability to use the local language makes everyday living much easier even without being able to speak perfectly. It overcomes the fears on both sides and helps interaction develop despite linguistically broken and improvised communication. Yet, making an effort to use the local language despite lack of fluency demands a conscious decision. A Christian couple from Kerala described it as a “complete mindset change.”68

Such a decision, however, may result in a relieving effect similar to the first attendance at the English Mass. Christine from Tanzania mentioned such an experience in connection to a situation when she was first understood, and herself understood, by a relative of her husband talking with her in Czech in a phone call.69

As learning the local language opens up the potential for establishing new ties, the collectives people relate to, and their corresponding identities, change. While the Upper Room Community is a social world in which members live in locally after work because most of their friends are members too, the collectives and identities of settling immigrants diversify and cross between the worlds of foreigners as well as Czechs. So, for example, Antonio, a Brazilian father of two daughters, found a community of local Brazilians even before coming to Brno, but he also developed friendly and helpful ties with his “colleagues” from a table tennis club.70 He loosened the ties to the international Catholic community to spend more time with his (Brazilian) family and admitted that quitting regular church attendance was a great departure from his Brazilian lifestyle.71

Vinay from Tamil Nadu had a similar experience after finally being invited—after some effort and good luck—to attend regular football meetings with his Czech work-mates.72 Being single, however, he maintained his bond with the Upper Room Community, too. Christine found a group of local mothers with whom she could exchange small services of various types, including teaching English and learning Czech, and started to attend Czech Masses (mainly because she wanted to pass the faith to her children who did not speak English). And thanks to her improving language proficiency, she strengthened her ties with the Czech relatives of her husband. She also started to organize events for ‘mixed familiesʼ: Czech-African at first but simply international later on. The couple from Kerala developed excellent helpful ties with their neighbors and, at the same time, established a feeling of being ‘at home’ through regular visits to a Keralan Catholic community in Vienna but, later on, relaxed this tie in favor of a stronger engagement in the community of Indians in Brno.

This is how local ties are multiplied and become more variable over the long term. Personal identities shift across these various ties, including ties with kin, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and other helpful acquaintances. Christine was able to shift between being an African, being in a “mixed partnership,” being a foreigner, being an English teacher, being black, being Catholic, and being a mum.73 And she was perfectly aware of the great effort she had to make in order to have a sense of belonging to her new living place through some of these identities. Such shifting self-identifications connect local ties, local place, distant home, and the experience of relocation, while their corresponding collectivities provide emotional support, small services and help, companionship, and, thus, also an attachment to the local socio-space.74 In short, such ties create a robust network that composes a more stable background than a relatively vulnerable place attachment dominated by relationships within one community.

10 Conclusion

In Brno, if a newly arrived English-speaking Catholic migrant feels a need to attend Mass and visits the only English Catholic Mass in the city, her or his chances of developing a feeling of being ‘at home’ rise significantly. Catholicism, or any other regular church attendance on its own, however, does not help to develop this feeling. The ability of the international Catholic community in Brno to facilitate the homemaking of its members successfully is related to its slow organic development in response to the most pressing needs of incoming expatriates, namely their longing for friendship, companionship, and intimate ties in a new place of residence. These kinds of social ties greatly enhance the development of local attachment and the sense of belonging.

The organizational culture and leadership based on the active voluntary involvement of each member, typical for community congregations, creates enough bonding social capital.75 The same organizational culture, however, leaves the community relatively distanced from the surrounding society due to the language barrier. Foley and Hoge presume that the college-educated and well-off members of the worship community, as the international Catholics in Brno are, “would enjoy a wider range of valuable connections outside the community.”76 The community, however, does not support this ‘bridging’ because the crucial problem it focuses on is its members’ feelings of isolation, loneliness, and lack of intimacy in the foreign and hardly accessible social environment. The homemaking of the members is facilitated by the abundance of the bonding social capital available in the community.

Becker connects community congregations with an experience of intense mobility.77 Indeed, the membership of the international Catholic community in Brno fluctuates. It may truly be termed an ‘expatriate community.’ It works best for migrants without plans to settle permanently or for those in the first stages of settlement. The strong engagement and intense companionship that makes the community a perfect place for isolated and unsettled young childless migrants makes it less suitable for those whose family ties, or the need to settle down among Czech locals, consumes their time and effort. Moreover, while the unsettled or transient expatriates may welcome the possibility to develop a sense of belonging without learning the local language, the migrants intending to settle down usually realize the need to learn it for integrating more fully into their local socio-space.

Greater local integration also brings about a reconstruction of one’s self-identification. The international Catholic community allows its members to self-identify through their migratory experience, shared relationship with God, and their conceptions of a good way of living. In the context of a ‘non-believing’ society, this supports intensification of personal faith shared in a safe space of the community and exchanged carefully with the wider society through deeds of charity. Among settling migrants, self-identification shifts along various parallel lines in which their relation to their place of origin, their local collectives, and shared experience of relocation are put together and performed artfully across diverse contexts. This gives their homemaking more stability in the long run.

Our case, thus, shows that there is no straightforward relationship between successful homemaking, belonging, local attachment, and the social integration of migrants into local society. The international Catholic community in Brno facilitates homemaking of its members by bonding them in its confines. The bridging potential of its activities is not realized, and the integration of the members remains selective, dependent on their international peers.78 Even this limited integration, however, relieves the expatriates from feelings of loneliness and disorientation and makes the initial phase of their settling, or even the overall period of their stay, quite comfortable and satisfying.

Acknowledgements

This text has been created in connection with the project “Expats in South Moravia Region: Stay and Needs,” tl01000465, tl—Program for the Support of Applied Social Sciences and Humanities Research, Experimental Development and Innovation éta.

References

  • Becker, Penny Edgell, Congregations in Conflict: Cultural Models of Local Religious Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

  • Berryman, Edward, “Belief, Apparitions, and Rationality: The Social Scientific Study of Religion after Wittgenstein,” Human Studies 28/1 (2005), 1539.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Blunt, Alison, & Robert Dowling, Home (London & New York: Routledge, 2006).

  • Boccagni, Paolo, “What’s in a (Migrant) House? Changing Domestic Spaces, the Negotiation of Belonging and Home-making in Ecuadorian Migration,” Housing, Theory and Society 31/3 (2014), 277293.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boccagni, Paolo, Migration and the Search of Home: Mapping Domestic Space in Migrants’ Everyday Lives (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brno Expat Centre. https://www.brnoexpatcentre.eu/ (accessed 21 December 2019).

  • Brown, Juanita, David Isaacs, & The World Café Community, “The World Café: Living Knowledge through Conversations that Matter,” The Systems Thinker 12/5 (2001), 15.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clark, David, & Yochanan Altman, “In the Age of ‘Liquid Modernity’: Self-initiated Expatriates in Crete, Their Multi-generational Families and the Community,” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 27/7 (2016), 729743.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eade, John, “Religion, Home-making and Migration across a Globalizing City: Responding to Mobility in London,” Culture and Religion 13/4 (2012), 469483.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Easthope, Hazel, “A Place Called Home,” Housing, Theory and Society 21/3 (2004), 128138.

  • Foley, Michael W., & Dean R. Hoge, Religion and the New Immigrants: How Faith Communities Form Our Newest Citizens (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hagan, Jacqueline, & Helen R. Ebaugh, “Calling upon the Sacred: Migrants’ Use of Religion in the Migration Process,” International Migration Review 37/4 (2003), 11451162.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hirschman, Charles, “The Role of Religion in the Origins and Adaptation of Immigrant Groups in the United States,” International Migration Review 38/3 (2004), 12061233.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levitt, Peggy, God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing Religious Landscape (New York: The New Press, 2007).

  • Liu-Farrer, Gracia, “Home and Belonging in an Ethno-nationalist Society,” in: idem, Immigrant Japan: Mobility and Belonging in an Ethno-nationalist Society (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 2020), 126153.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mallett, Shelley, “Understanding Home: A Critical Literature Review,” The Sociological Review 52/1 (2004), 6289.

  • Mazumdar, Shampa, & Sanjoy Mazumdar, “Religion, Immigration, and Home-making in Diaspora: Hindu Space in Southern California,” Journal of Environmental Psychology 29/2 (2009), 256266.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Menjívar, Cecilia, “Religious Institutions and Transnationalism: A Case Study of Catholic and Evangelical Salvadoran Immigrants,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 12/4 (1999), 589612.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mesch, Gustavo S., & Orit Manor, “Social Ties, Environmental Perception and Local Attachment,” Environment and Behavior 30/4 (1998), 504519.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Olson, Elizabeth, “Development, Transnational Religion, and the Power of Ideas in the High Provinces of Cusco, Peru,” Environment and Planning A 38/5 (2006), 885902.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pořízková, Hana, “Privilegovaní ‘druzí’ aneb sociální integrace cizinců z vyspělých zemí,” in: Miroslava Rákoczyová & Robert Trbola (eds.), Sociální integrace přistěhovalců v České republice (Praha: Slon 2009), 4887.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Povrzanović Frykman, Maja, & Katarina Mozetič, “The Importance of Friends: Social Life Challenges for Foreign Physicians in Southern Sweden,” Community, Work & Family (2019). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13668803.2019.1599323 (accessed 11 July 2020).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Savaş, Özlem, “The Collective Turkish Home in Vienna: Aesthetic Narratives of Migration and Belonging,” Home Cultures 7/3 (2010), 313340.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SocioFactor s.r.o. & Ústav religionistiky ffmu, Analýza faktorů ovlivňujících motivace kvalifikovaných cizinců k hledání uplatnění ve své profesi v Jihomoravském kraji: Souhrnná výzkumná zpráva (Ostrava: SocioFactor s.r.o., 2020).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Taves, Ann, Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Topinka, Daniel, et al., “Skilled Labour Migration: A Proposal of the Conceptual Framework for the Study of Expatriates in Brno,” Urban People / Lidé města 20/2 (2018), 267296.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Warner, Stephen R., & Judith G. Wittner (eds.), Gatherings in Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,1998).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wellman, Barry, & Scot Wortley, “Different Strokes from Different Folks: Community Ties and Social Support,” American Journal of Sociology 96/3 (1990), 558588.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
1

Alison Blunt & Robert Dowling, Home (London & New York: Routledge, 2006), 2.

2

For the quote, see ibid., 3. Regarding identity reconstruction, see Hazel Easthope, “A Place Called Home,” Housing, Theory and Society 21/3 (2004), 128–138, at 135–136.

3

For information about the center, see Brno Expat Centre. https://www.brnoexpatcentre.eu/ (accessed 21 December 2019). Numerous international corporations located in Brno are bec’s contractual partners. By providing services to the employees of these companies, bec plays a small part in the regional political strategy to attract the relocation of foreign investors. Our qualitative research was a part of a wider research project mapping the situation of expatriates in Brno. The quantitative part of the project was carried out by a research organization called SocioFactor s.r.o. as “The Great Brno Expat Survey” with 1013 participants. For a detailed analysis of the (in)appropriateness of the concept of ‘expatriates’ for this research, see Daniel Topinka et al., “Skilled Labour Migration: A Proposal of the Conceptual Framework for the Study of Expatriates in Brno,” Urban People / Lidé města 20/2 (2018), 267–296. bec uses the term ‘expatriate’ for all highly skilled migrants and their partners, i.e., their potential clients, without taking into account differences in their biographical histories and future plans. We follow this terminological practice as well unless we need to differentiate between participants’ future plans. We speak of ‘expatriates in a narrow sense’ in cases of highly skilled migrants without clear plans for long-term or permanent settlement in Brno.

4

See Paolo Boccagni, Migration and the Search of Home: Mapping Domestic Space in Migrants’ Everyday Lives (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 21; and Gracia Liu-Farrer, “Home and Belonging in an Ethno-nationalist Society,” in: idem, Immigrant Japan: Mobility and Belonging in an Ethno-nationalist Society (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 2020), 126–153, at 127–128.

5

Gustavo S. Mesch & Orit Manor, “Social Ties, Environmental Perception and Local Attachment,” Environment and Behavior 30/4 (1998), 504–519.

6

Mallett, “Understanding Home,” 68, 70. See also David Clark & Yochanan Altman, “In the Age of ‘Liquid Modernity’: Self-initiated Expatriates in Crete, Their Multi-generational Families and the Community,” The International Journal of Human Resource Management 27/7 (2016), 729–743. However, there are many other ways to study homemaking, for example, some authors focus on the materiality of the dwelling, its organization and aesthetic order, interior design or equipment as a way to approach a sense of belonging, the constitution of collective identity or transnationalism. See Özlem Savaş, “The Collective Turkish Home in Vienna: Aesthetic Narratives of Migration and Belonging,” Home Cultures 7/3 (2010), 313–340; Paolo Boccagni, “What’s in a (Migrant) House? Changing Domestic Spaces, the Negotiation of Belonging and Home-making in Ecuadorian Migration,” Housing, Theory and Society 31/3 (2014), 277–293; compare Shelley Mallett, “Understanding Home: A Critical Literature Review,” The Sociological Review 52/1 (2004), 62–89, at 65–67, 82.

7

Liu-Farrer, “Home and Belonging,” 140–141; and Maja Povrzanović Frykman & Katarina Mozetič, “The Importance of Friends: Social Life Challenges for Foreign Physicians in Southern Sweden,” Community, Work & Family (2019). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13668803.2019.1599323 (accessed 11 July 2020).

8

For the quoted concepts, see, respectively, Ann Taves, Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009), 9, 51–55, 129–156; and Edward Berryman, “Belief, Apparitions, and Rationality: The Social Scientific Study of Religion After Wittgenstein,” Human Studies 28/1 (2005), 15–39, at 19.

9

For the mentioned topics, see, respectively, Elizabeth Olson, “Development, Transnational Religion, and the Power of Ideas in the High Provinces of Cusco, Peru,” Environment and Planning A 38/5 (2006), 885–902; Peggy Levitt, God Needs No Passport: Immigrants and the Changing Religious Landscape (New York: The New Press, 2007); and Shampa Mazumdar & Sanjoy Mazumdar, “Religion, Immigration, and Home-making in Diaspora: Hindu Space in Southern California,” Journal of Environmental Psychology 29/2 (2009), 256–266.

10

John Eade, “Religion, Home-making and Migration across a Globalizing City: Responding to Mobility in London,” Culture and Religion 13/4 (2012), 469–483.

11

Michael W. Foley & Dean R. Hoge, Religion and the New Immigrants: How Faith Communities Form Our Newest Citizens (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

12

Ibid., 12–14, 175, 212–214.

13

Ibid., 24.

14

Penny Edgell Becker, Congregations in Conflict: Cultural Models of Local Religious Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 103–105.

15

Foley & Hoge, Religion and the New Immigrants, 30.

16

Ibid., 31–32, 91–92.

17

Foley & Hoge, Religion and the New Immigrants, 31–32. For the issue of moral and psychological support, see Jacqueline Hagan & Helen R. Ebaugh, “Calling upon the Sacred: Migrants’ Use of Religion in the Migration Process,” International Migration Review 37/4 (2003), 1145–1162; and Charles Hirschman, “The Role of Religion in the Origins and Adaptation of Immigrant Groups in the United States,” International Migration Review 38/3 (2004), 1206–1233.

18

Regarding the concept of selective integration, see Hana Pořízková, “Privilegovaní ‘druzí’ aneb sociální integrace cizinců z vyspělých zemí,” in: Miroslava Rákoczyová & Robert Trbola (eds.), Sociální integrace přistěhovalců v České republice (Praha: Slon 2009), 48–87, at 78.

19

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic with nearly 400,000 inhabitants.

20

Topinka et al., “Skilled Labour Migration,” 276.

21

Ibid., 277, 280.

22

SocioFactor s.r.o. & Ústav religionistiky ff mu, Analýza faktorů ovlivňujících motivace kvalifikovaných cizinců k hledání uplatnění ve své profesi v Jihomoravském kraji: Souhrnná výzkumná zpráva (Ostrava: SocioFactor s.r.o., 2020), 51.

23

Ibid., 37.

24

For basic information about the world café method, see Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, & The World Café Community, “The World Café: Living Knowledge through Conversations that Matter,” The Systems Thinker 12/5 (2001), 1–5.

25

Liu-Farrer, “Home and Belonging,” 139.

26

Mesch & Manor, “Social Ties,” 517–518; and Barry Wellman & Scot Wortley, “Different Strokes from Different Folks: Community Ties and Social Support,” American Journal of Sociology 96/3 (1990), 558–588, at 551.

27

Wellman & Wortley, “Different Strokes,” 564, 566.

28

World Café (28 May 2019). All the participants’ names used in this text are pseudonyms.

29

Ibid.

30

Interview (18 June 2019).

31

Ibid.

32

Ibid.

33

Ibid.

34

Focus group (16 June 2019).

35

Ibid.

36

Ibid.

37

Foley & Hoge, Religion and the New Immigrants, 175 and 212–214.

38

Ibid., 31.

39

Becker, Congregations in Conflict, 101–124.

40

Ibid., 105.

41

Interview (19 March 2019).

42

Interview (15 June 2020).

43

Ibid.

44

The quote is from Sister Megan. Interview (19 March 2019).

45

Interview (19 March 2019); interview (15 June 2020).

46

Interview (19 March 2019).

47

See, for example, Stephen R. Warner & Judith G. Wittner (eds.), Gatherings in Diaspora: Religious Communities and the New Immigration (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998).

48

Cecilia Menjívar, “Religious Institutions and Transnationalism: A Case Study of Catholic and Evangelical Salvadoran Immigrants,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 12/4 (1999), 589–612.

49

Focus group (16 June 2019).

50

Ibid.

51

Ibid. The use of a “family” metaphor, again, is a typical feature of friendships that support community congregations, mentioned in Becker, Congregations in Conflict, 104.

52

Focus group (16 June 2019).

53

Ibid.

54

Ibid.

55

Interview (25 April 2019).

56

Focus group (16 June 2019).

57

Ibid.

58

Ibid.

59

Interview (15 June 2020).

60

Focus group (16 June 2019).

61

Ibid.

62

When characterizing community congregations, Becker also speaks of the primacy of values over efficiency in the activities and policies concerning wider social issues. See idem, Congregations in Conflict, 110–111.

63

From the organizational point of view, the Mass time is not a simple issue. The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary has its own regular schedule of Czech Masses and organ concerts, and the English Mass has to fit in some gap. The English-speaking officiant of the liturgy is also not always available. Email from Sister Megan (9 June 2020).

64

Ibid.

65

Interview (18 March 2019).

66

Mesch & Manor, “Social Ties”; and Wellman & Wortley, “Different Strokes.”

67

All the above-mentioned activities are examples taken from our interviews with people who struggled with Czech because of their intention to settle down.

68

Interview (1 March 2019).

69

Interview (18 June 2019).

70

Interview (22 March 2019). Antonio made an explicit distinction between friends and friendly and helpful acquaintances whom he termed “colleagues.”

71

Ibid.

72

Interview (25 April 2019).

73

Interview (18 June 2019).

74

See Wellman & Wortley, “Different Strokes.”

75

For the typical features of the community congregations, see Becker, Congregations in Conflict, 101–124.

76

Foley & Hoge, Religion and the New Immigrants, 107.

77

Becker, Congregations in Conflict, 105.

78

Regarding the selective integration, see Pořízková, “Privilegovaní ‘druzí,’” 78.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 300 0 0
Full Text Views 125 112 11
PDF Views & Downloads 111 92 15