BAÑOS, Ecuador- From the 1st to 11th of July we met in the city of Baños, Ecuador, for the 5th CUPAFAL. The group consisted of 13 confreres who work in different levels of formation. They were from Argentina (1), Perú-Brazil (3), Colombia (4), Ecuador (2) and Haití (3). It was all coordinated by Father Gonzalo Tabares Builes, the provincial from Colombia and also the Latin American & Caribbean Coordinator. Representing the General Administration was Father Jorge Enrique Gonzalez who was joined during the second week by Father Luiz Augusto Stefani, the superior or Perú-Brazil. The last two days we were joined by the arrivals of the Superior General, Father Santino Brembilla, and the General Bursar, Fr Jim Brady.
The objective was to review the mission of the formator in order to understand more clearly how we can accompany our candidates during the different stages of formation in this part of the world. To help us, we used a methodology that guided us to SEE-ILLUMINATE-ACTION-CELEBRATE.
During the first week, the stage of SEE, we listened to three speakers from Ecuador who helped us learn more about the social, religious, psychological and familial reality of young people today and to better understand the complexity of the world in which they live.
For the second week of the gathering (Monday to Wednesday) we took one full day of retreat and then to share in groups what we have learned. This was the step of ILLUMINATION: how to accompany our candidates with the Light of the Gospel, the documents of Aparecida, the Joy of the Gospel, and the documents of the Congregation (the second volume of the Ratio for Formation and some of the letters from the Superiors General on the theme of formation).
We ended our gathering on the last days in discernment of some concrete proposals (ACTION) which will be taken-up by the superiors of Latin América and the Caribbean who are meeting right after this meeting with the region’s bursars (12th and 13th) and then as a group of superiors (14-15 July).
These were two very intense weeks of work and prayer. However, we also had some good moments of rest and relaxation in each other’s company. The whole atmosphere was very fraternal and open. We worked in groups but also learned from the other’s culture (we were confreres from Latin América, the Caribbean, Indonesia and India). There was also the opportunity to take some time away from meetings: a small trip to Quito; visits to the thermal pools in the area; a pilgrimage to a local shrine; and time just to walk around this very touristic town. During this time we have remembered the confreres from France, Holland, Canada, Italy, Spain and now most recently who are arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and India. These and so many others came to our continent and helped shape the Montfortian mission.
Ever present, but thankfully quiet and unnoticed, was the local volcano named Tungurahua—it’s loved and feared at the same time since it is a very active volcano. Even so, we were blessed to see and appreciate its beauty on different occasions.
We were thankful to God for this time that renewed our energy to continue in our mission of formation work with many more elements of shared wisdom. Above all that, though, we grew in the desire to collaborate more closely and to work toward unifying our criteria and formation plans in Latin América and the Caribbean & in the openness we have toward the whole Congregation.