From 26 December to 29 December 2022, the group of Claretians from the team of CESC met in the formation house at Colmenar Viejo in Spain. There were nine participants, and it was presided over by the General Prefect of Spirituality and Community Life, Fr. Carlos E. Sánchez Miranda (Rome).
The group was made up of those residing in Vic: Fathers Juan Carlos Martos (Director of CESC), Sebin Mundackal, José Rovira and Brother Mario Kevin Armijo; and those residing outside Vic: Fathers Paulson Veliyannoor (recently assigned to collaborate in the Institute of Religious Life “Sanyasa”, Bangalore, India), Salvador León (member of the formation team in Colmenar Viejo), Félix K. Ketoglo (from the parish team in Ferraz, Madrid, and student in our Institute of Religious Life in Madrid) and Rohan Peires (resident in the provincial curia of Santiago, Madrid, and student of Spirituality in the Pontifical University Comillas of Madrid).
The purpose of the meeting was the evaluation of the year 2022 and the planning of programmes for the year 2023, and 2024. This kind of annual meeting had already been held in previous years, in Colmenar or in Los Negrales, and always around Christmas, except in 2020 when it had to be suspended due to the covid pandemic. The meeting was very intense and fruitful.
On 26th, the meeting began with vespers and supper. On the same day the members greeted each other and discussed the programme for the following days, which had been sent to the participants a few days before so that they could be prepared.
On 27th, Fr. Paulson gave a lecture to the group on the theme: “Managing Polarities”. This was followed by a dialogue on the subject and a deeper discussion in subgroups of three and finally all together. It served as a training and a way of getting to know the participants better. The afternoon was devoted to a personal reflection and participation all together on how each one of them was feeling on a personal level, whether they were carrying out activities during this period, or even on a more personal level with regard to their membership of CESC. A climate of deep sincerity, openness and freedom was created, which helped everyone to get to know each other better, and to realize the possibilities and limits of each one and of the group as a whole. It was very useful, and was judged to be very enriching.
Likewise on 28th, Fr. Sanchez explained very frankly the discernments and searches carried out by the General Government with a view of looking for possible candidates who could be part of the CESC. It was noted that, on the one hand there are Congregations that envy our work that is done with the CESC and on the other hand, we realize the possibilities and the difficulties, the weaknesses and limits of our own Congregation. All this came out very clearly when the Director of CESC and those in charge of the courses run by La Fragua in Spanish and English this year reported on how they had gone, both the positive results and the difficulties encountered. After which, the dialogue about the organization for 2023 and even 2024 was opened. In the afternoon of same day, as a moment of rest, after a day and half of very intense and frank, fraternal and serene discussions and discernment, we went to visit the Real Sitio de El Pardo, which is located near Colmenar Viejo.
On the final day the dialogue continued on other activities for 2023-2024, such as: the elaboration of Claretian materials requested by the Prefecture to the CESC. The decision made to produce a set of short videos (7 to 9) that will present in a summarized way the various moments or periods of the history of the Congregation, in preparation for the celebration of the 175 years of the Foundation. The texts will be prepared by the CESC of Vic and the videos by the communication team of the General Curia in Rome. It was also discerned and accepted the request of the major superiors of the Congregation, meeting in Nairobi in September 2022, to resume the celebration of the Encounter with Claret (a month of deepening in the spiritual and missionary experience of Fr Claret), the General Government will communicate the dates of its celebration. Finally, the collaboration in the preparation of the Congress of Claretian Spirituality programmed for 2024, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation and the theme, the dates, the speakers, the participants, etc. were discussed.
With the recitation of Vespers and supper on Thursday 29th the meeting was ended. Fr. Ángel Esteban, a member of the Community, bid farewell to the participants with a beautiful song. The participants left with a good taste of the joy of the fraternal reunion and with the satisfaction of having made a good programme for the coming tasks of CESC and the Forge at the service of the spiritual animation of the Congregation.