Three years later, the Italy region of the Sanctus Paulus Province has once again held its traditional ‘4×4’ meeting from 21 to 25 November in Trieste. Precisely from this gateway city of the former kingdom of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where this project was inaugurated from 14 to 17 November 2005. The ‘4×4’ encounters were programmed by the assembly of the CMF Italian Delegation and had the objective of facilitating dialogue, listening, knowledge, fraternity and unity among the Claretians working in the four regions of Italy (Trieste/Slovenia, Altamura, Rome and Milan). The acronym ‘4×4’ has a clear meaning: 4 days during which the Claretians work in the different communities of the 4 regions of Italy.
Unfortunately, this first meeting, after the pandemic, not all the regions were able to attend. For reasons of illness and old age there was no representation in the presence of the community of Altamura, but they were able to participate for some moments in telematic format, for the first time in this encounter.
The encounter of Trieste had different objectives, one of them being: to begin the dialogue of revision and projection of the Claretian communities in the framework of the new province after its first Chapter.
A remarkable fact has been the insertion of the four new young Claretian brothers sent to the communities of Rome Parioli and Segrate: Jennar, Anaclet, Anuj and Juan José. All of them have spoken of their vocational paths, of their experience of culturisation and the clashes in the Claretian communities of Italy. They emphasised their “desire to collaborate in the mission of the congregation in Sanctus Paulus without forgetting their original cultures”. They have also explained the desire to inculturate and work in Europe; with the knowledge, the willingness to welcome and the integration on the part of the European brothers.
Another objective, which has been worked on between 22 and 23 November, has been to deepen the knowledge of the platform with Claretian presence in Trieste and Slovenia, with a view to the revision of the missionary positions within the framework of the province and in the ecclesial context of the synodal journey. Two external witnesses have been invited for this purpose: a priest of the diocese of Trieste, Consultor of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches and Secretary of the commission for social pastoral of the Council of the European Bishops’ Conferences, Fr. Luis Okulik, and the abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of Praglia, Fr.
Luis Okulik, a native of Argentina, helped to understand the social, cultural, political and religious characteristics of the city of Trieste. He also spoke about the challenges for the Catholic mission in this gateway city between Italy and Northern and Eastern Europe. A city that demands open-mindedness in the dialogue between the various religions and cultures that are living together amidst mutual respect and scars of past wounds.
The other guest, Stefano Visintin, shared a reflection on “community as Church” drawing inspiration from the first community in the Acts of the Apostles, the teachings of the fathers and founders of monastic communities such as Saints Benedict, Pachomius, Basil, Augustine, Cassian, Bernard and Baldwin of Ford. According to these holy fathers, communities, as an ecclesial reality, should focus on Liturgy, the Word of God and the spiritual growth of the members of the community.
Besides the external guests, all Claretians have shared their dreams. In this context, the oldest Claretian, Giovanni Falchi, 96 years old, ex-economist of the Italian province and who has been living in Trieste for more than 25 years, told the history of the foundation of the community of Trieste and helped to understand the problems experienced in relation to economy and formation. Finally, he recalled the cities, towns, communities and Claretians who have marked the life of the congregation in Italy.
For his part, the provincial of the delegation and the last provincial delegate of Italy, Franco Incampo, in the framework of the theme ‘the dream of life of the Claretians of the region of Italy’, explained some elements of the historical journey, the challenges, resources and organisation. Incampo began with the then Province of the Delegation of Italy until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. He also included the crises after Vatican II and their consequences on the life, formation of missionaries and missions.
Massimo Proscia, the Italian Delegate Administrator, illustrated the economic data of the region of Italy after the transfer of the economic assets of the former Delegation of Italy to the current Province of Sanctus Paulus. Proscia called for the collaboration of all the communities in order to move forward.
On 24 November, the provincial Juan Martin and the prefect of spirituality and formation, Màxim Muñoz, joined the ‘4×4’ meeting. Juan Martin and Màxim presented the chapter document, and offered a moment in which they worked on the different points of the five dreams and projects of the congregation in the province of Sanctus Paulus. The provincial and the prefect invited the participants to take on these dreams and projects in order to strengthen fraternal relations and learn to work together as a community. Gustavo Pez, Benjitu and the secretary Josep Codina, all members of the Provincial Government, participated telematically. Benjitu encouraged the Claretians to promote the participation of young people in the next World Youth Day in Lisbon 2023.
In the afternoon, the Eucharist was celebrated with the population of Trieste and afterwards Father Cupini presented the Calendar 2023 ‘Insieme/Ubunto’, on the dreams of the congregation.
On the last day of the meeting, 25th November, Juan Martin and Maxim Muñoz, together with Father Incampo, explained the conclusions of the four days. Afterwards, they gave appointments for the next spiritual exercises in January.
The ‘4×4’ meeting concluded with a Eucharist presided over by the Provincial Superior. After lunch, the two members of the Provincial Government went to Slovenia accompanied by Branko Cestnik to visit the community of that Balkan country. They visited the mission of Frankolovo where Father Cestnik works as a parish priest, writer and preacher of missions and retreats.
The next ‘4×4’ meeting will be held from 17 to 21 April in the Altamura region.