Dear Beloved Congregation,
This letter comes to you from the 13 participants of the Forge Encounter from April 8 until June 22, 2018. We gathered together at the Forge Center in Los Negrales, Madrid, Spain, coming from seven countries representing 10 Major Organisms, along with our two coordinators, Fr. Roland Chidiebere Onuekwusi from East Nigeria and Fr. Paulson Varkey Veliyannoor from North East India. We arrived with a little knowledge of the Forge Encounter but not really aware of the transformation that awaited us.
The Forge unfolded in three phases that were sequenced according to the three processes of transformation the Congregation had mandated for herself in the XXV General Chapter. In the first phase, we looked inward at our “Patris Mei” experience: how to be adorers of the Father. We experienced God, God’s Silence, our sinfulness, and Divine Mercy. We also looked at God as Abba of Jesus, Abba of Mary, and Abba of Claret & Claretian Martyrs. We had our Spiritual Exercises at the Monastery at Buena Fuente.
Through this journey of prayer, scripture reflections, journaling, and desert experience we became more intimate in our relationship with “God, the Father.”
In the second phase we entered “Caritas Christi,” to live the following of Jesus in the style of Mary, Claret, and our brother martyrs. In this phase we embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands to walk in the footprints of Jesus Christ, experiencing his life with greater intensity. We renewed our baptismal promises at river Jordan, knelt to kiss the place of his birth, and walked the stations of the Cross, and prayed at the Empty Tomb. In this phase, we reflected on our vows and how the Eucharist becomes the heart of a Claretian.
In the third and final phase of “Spiritus Domini,” we asked the Holy Spirit to send us forth as missionaries. We reflected in depth about the various charismatic traits of the Congregation, walked the holy places of our Founder Claret and our beloved Martyrs. Meditating at the Crypt of our Martyrs of Barbastro and the Tomb of St. Anthony Claret touched the core of our hearts and brought us closer to our Beloved Congregation. Various resource personnel walked us through Pope Francis’ call to triple conversions, and we encountered several Claretian associates and learned about shared mission.
A significant and transformative encounter it was for us. We thank the General Government for organizing this wonderful encounter and supporting it both through personnel and subsidies. We thank our Major Organisms for sending us to this encounter of renewal. We thank you, all our brothers in the Congregation for accompanying us in prayer. Our sincere gratitude to the entire Forge Team, very specially to Frs.
Paulson and Roland, the coordinators for the Forge in English.
Finally, from what we have experienced, we want to encourage every Claretian who is in the middle years of ministry, to attend the Forge Encounter. We guarantee you that you will have a “Cana” experience of tasting newer and better wine of spiritual fervor, and a rediscovery of the initial fire that set us on our journey. It will make you a better person, better Claretian, and one who is more in love with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit along with Mother Mary, St. Anthony Claret, and our Beloved Martyrs.
May the Fire of the Forge continue to burn in your hearts!
Batch of Forge 04/18 (English) Los Negrales, June 21, 2018