PASAJE, Ecuador- From June 22nd through the 29th the VI Meeting on Montfortian Spirituality was held here in Ecuador. The theme that we worked with was “Baptism and Mary” and the objective of the gathering was to grow more deeply in the living of our Baptism and the presence of Mary in Montfortian Spirituality. To facilitate the gathering we utilized a methodology that helped us to SEE, CHOOSE, ACTION and CELEBRATE. The groups worked together and, through sharing and reflection from the different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, we kicked-off the work for the Tercentenary of Montfort’s death with the renewal of our baptismal vows.
Work began on this gathering in 2013 and was orchestrated by the Operative Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean. The structure of the encounter was very thorough. The general organization included reception, logistics and the welcoming of guests and it was done by lay men and women from Ecuador who are to be commended for their excellent work. Our methodology was facilitated by different confreres from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. SEE was facilitated by Father Leonardo Bernal, of Colombia. CHOOSE, by Father Daniel Malásquez of Perú-Brazil and Brother Oscar Cárdenas, a scholastic from Nicaragua. The section of ACTION was led by the Daughters of Wisdom working in Ecuador, under the leadership of Sister Lourdes. And we arrived at CELEBRATE in which we renewed our baptismal commitment. This was led by the Colombian SMM under the leadership of Fathers Parmenio Gomez and Luis Manuel Mora. We also had the chance to learn from a Colombian theologian, Dr. Cesar Barratto Abello, who accompanied us throughout the whole process.
The whole gathering unfolded as was initially planned. And it was all accomplished with an atmosphere of joy, welcome and fraternity. The organizers (Jonás, Patricia, Martha, Miriam, Jorge, Germán, Billy and local religious) together with our confreres in Ecuador all worked together from the arrival of the first person to the very end. We stayed in the houses of members from difference Base Communities and the meetings were held in a local club, Los Samanes. The participants represented the montfortian presence in Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina, Perú, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Nicaragua. Haiti was unable to send participants but was in communication to learn what was taking place. The delegation from Colombia was the largest.
At different moments we were joined by some local bishops, too, who came celebrate liturgy or participate in the gathering. The three bishops of the Diocese of Machala (Bishop Ángel the Ordinary; Mons. Hermengildo, auxiliary; and Mons. Néstor, emeritus) were most welcome among us.
The welcome and participation of the local town was impressive, too. The local mayor of Pasaje gave Father Gonzalo Tabares the keys to the city of Pasaje during the opening celebrations. He invited us to learn about his region and the importance of the vast banana plantations. He also helped organize some cultural events and participated in the sharing among all the different countries represented.
On Saturday we topped off the gathering with a trip to the ancient city of Cuenca and even went into the nature preserve of Cajas. Sunday saw the closing liturgy and the sending-out of the all the missionary-participants to their respective countries.
All in all, it was a magnificent experience where we felt the vitality of the Montfortian spirituality and the presence of St Louis de Montfort at each step of the journey.