Bayamón, Puerto Rico. April 12, 2010. In the second Easter week, the Claretian “apostles” of The Caribbean began arriving in diverse flights to the “Claret Mission House” of Puerto Rico as if they had been convoked by the Risen Lord. It was as if Jesus were repeating to us his order: “Go to Galilee”-“Go to ‘La Lomita’”, to the Mission House or House of
Claretian spirituality. There he will reveal himself to us again as the glorious and risen Lord; he will breathe his Spirit into us; from there he will send us on our return trip to Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico itself, to continue proclaiming the Gospel and working for the Kingdom.
Gathering all the members of the Delegation of Antilles is not precisely an easy adventure, considering the fact that we are located in three different islands and four different countries. In addition, some of them have difficult travelling conditions that have to be confronted, like the expensive and slow process of going out of Cuba or the strict and restrictive process to enter into Puerto Rico. In fact, due to these obstacles, three of our brothers could not be present in our meeting.
The Assembly is composed of 41 members of the Delegation, distributed in this way: 4 come from Haiti, 8 from Cuba (two of them have been newly assigned, and have not yet reached their destination), 14 from the Dominican Republic, 14 from Puerto Rico and 1 from Mexico. We are a colourful group with a universal air, if we take into account our different native countries: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Poland, Central Africa and Nigeria.
Separately we mention Fr. Gonzalo Fernández, General Prefect of Spirituality, who comes from Rome to preside our Assembly.
We started our Assembly punctually at 12:00 noon, with half-hour of community prayer, centred on the theme of the Assembly, “Claretian Missionaries, men on fire with love.” This theme actually takes up the challenges and proposals of the last General Chapter, which will guide the reflection and the pastoral and missionary conclusions of our own Assembly.
After lunch and a healthy siesta, we started our common task. With the express intention of starting from the reality, we dedicated almost the entire afternoon to briefly share the situation of each and every one of our communities and missionary posts. We followed a common scheme: community life, missionary ministries and commitments we actually carry out, evaluation of the same and challenges for the future.
In the evening Eucharist, at 6:00 p.m., we found the best opportunity to feel as missionary brothers, illumined by the Easter Word, and recognising the Risen Lord who convokes and sends us “in the breaking of the bread.” After supper, at 8:00 p.m., we attentively listened to an interesting, well-articulated conference, expressed with fluid word by the diocesan priest Fr. Feliciano Rodríguez, Pastoral Vicar of the diocese of Caguas, whose bishop is our Claretian brother Fr. Rubén González.
He presented to us a synthesis of the history of Puerto Rico in the XX century up to our present time: the historic-social-economic realities and the incidence of such history in the religious and ecclesial life of the Puerto Rican people. He emphasised the repercussions of this historical and social process, especially today, in the young generations that are more and more alienating themselves from the church and the pastoral challenges to the local church for the future in order to announce the Gospel to this people. With this the first day of our Assembly ended in a climate of embraces among brothers who were meeting one another after a long separation.