The farewell letter of Blessed Martyr Faustino Perez on behalf of his student companions of Barbastro begins this very same greeting. The image of our “seminary martyr” has always been present as a reference point during our meeting of the Prefects of Formation. His admirable faith testimony, without a doubt was a fruit of grace, but also a formative process which attained its objective: the transformation in the one who died and resurrected Christ.
Our meeting took place on Monday, May 13 to Wednesday, May 22, at the Claret Retreat House in Mixco, Guatemala. We Prefects of Formation from 30 Provinces and Delegations participated in the said meeting. Overall, we were 34 including those who have helped us in the translations (Bro. Mario Kevin Armijo, CMF) and in the secretariat (Rev. Luis Enrique Ortiz, CMF of Antillas and Fr. Francis Ofoegbu, CMF of West Nigeria). Three prefects were not able to participate due to visa problems. Due to the appointment as Bishop of Isabela of Fr. Leo Dalmao, former General Prefect of Formation, his organization task on this meeting ceased and made it impossible for him to be with us. However, we were able to contact him online and wished him all the force of the Spirit on his new mission. Father General, Mathew Vattamattam presided the meeting instead. His extensive experience in the field of formation and his actual universal perspective of the Congregation have been a grace.
We experimented the joy and richness, as well as the difficulties, of an intercultural community. In our diversity, we felt very united in the same Claretian missionary vocation. We have expressed these in moments of intense prayers, work, and living together. The “cultural celebrations” by Conferences have helped us to truly feel as one family of brothers in the plurality of language and cultures.
The formation for interculturality precisely became one of the themes that we have discussed during these days, facilitated by Fr. Callistus Joseph. Without a doubt, it is a sign of the times that our universal Congregation is experimenting increasingly in her formation centers and in her communities. We must train for this, both in initial formation and in ongoing formation. It is an invitation that we make to the whole Congregation.
In view of an integral perspective of formation, as a process of transformation in Christ that lasts a lifetime, we have dwelt deeply on other principal issues: accompaniment and spiritual discernment and the prophetic formation (JPIC). Frs. Rodolfo Morales and César Espinoza, CMFF shared to us respectively their lifelong experience in both fields and they have fostered for us a fruitful sharing among ourselves.
We also dedicated a good part of our meeting on the revision of the General Plan of Formation, one of the important objectives of this sexennium. In doing so, we discovered the richness and the firmness of our formation tradition, of which we should feel proud and accountable. Facilitated by Bro. Fernando Kuhn and Fr. José Ramon Sanz, CMFF we have worked on the already elaborated draft, fruit of the grand work of the commission as well as of the General Government itself.
We completed the meeting proposing training in economic issues, specifically the mode in which our formands could avail the online course organized by the General Prefect of Economy. We were able to communicate with Fr. Manuel Tamargo, CMF General Prefect of Economy, through skype and presented the proposal with the necessary information and orientations.
To have the meeting near the Noviciate House of Centroamérica and interact with the novices has been very positive. It is the same with the visit to the Izabal mission and to the Claretian parishes of Santa Maria, Peronia, and San Cristobal; as well as the encounter with the different Lay Claretian groups. We heartfully thank them for their love and hospitality, the richness of their cultural and liturgical expressions, their testimony of apostolic commitment shared mission. All this has helped us a lot to place our meeting in the right perspective: a formation for the mission.
We feel grateful for the fraternal hospitality we received from the Province of Centroamérica, the Community of Mixco, and the staff of the retreat house. Fr. Ismael Montero, CMF, the Provincial Superior, facilitated the initial retreat which helped us much in creating an adequate spiritual ambiance. Fr. Jeremias Lemus, Prefect of Formation of the said Organism, together with Fr. Marcos Garnica, CMF of México, did a magnificent work of coordination and guide.
Lastly, we would like to thank you for the support messages which we have received from the various parts of the Congregation. In particular, the enlightening video message of Aquilino Cardinal Bocos. They express great appreciation for the formative task because missionary witnessing is important in our initial and permanent formation. As a final message of our meeting, we invite you, our dear brothers, to be thankful to the richness of our formative patrimony, to feel co-accountable in maintaining it alive, to take advantage and promote the provincial and congregational initiatives, and above all to support the formation of new vocations that the Lord sends us.
We entrust it to the Spirit of the Risen Lord through the intercession of the Heart of Mary, of our Founder and of our Blessed Martyrs.
Mixco (Guatemala), May 22, 2019.