June 24-28, 2019, Vocational House, Bogotá
The topic was: The SSS religious witness inspired by the “Gift of Self” as the principal element and “motor” of the vocation apostolate.
We were 27 participants in that meeting of Ongoing Formation: 21 young religious from the three Provinces – Our Lady of Guadalupe (9), Saint John XXIII (10) and Our Lady of Africa (2); CLAS members (Marcelo, Wilson, Chepe and Camilo) and also Fr Fiorenzo Salvi and Fr José Antonio Rivera.
- To promote a space of Permanent Formation for young religious.
- To follow up the 2017 General Chapter, especially the “mystique” of the “Gift of Self” as an element that identifies our Eucharistic spirituality.
- To understand that personal witnessing is primordial in the invitation to follow Jesus.
- To make the Vocational Apostolate more dynamic in our Provinces.
- To associate to this dynamic the Eymardian Family (Lay Blessed Sacrament people).
- The paradigm of Andrew’s and Simon’s vocation (Jn 1:35-42), reinterpreted from the personal and communitarian experience from profession (Day of retreat – Fr Fiorenzo).
- “The gift of self” as a fundamental element in the Eymardian Spirituality (Fr Fiorenzo).
- The Vocational Apostolate according to the formation plan of the Congregation and the CLAS (Fr Wilson). The problem of Paedophilia (Fr Marcelo).
- Ecclesial life: The Synod of Youth and Vocations. The World Youth Day (Brothers Wilmer and Alessandro).
- The situation of the Vocational Apostolate in the Congregation and its experiences (witnesses, meetings, materials, use of social network and internet). Sharing and Searching.
I will like to share with you what we felt at the end of this meeting, presenting some notes written by the participants in their evaluation.
The meeting is not only talks. Prayer and sharing at the table, this is also meeting.
Many of the participants pointed out the environment of fraternity and joy of the meeting, using different words – communion, fraternal bonds, friendship, living together, joy – which were used frequently. “A meeting that plants hope and encourages”.
“I desire to commit myself more to our Founder’s journey.
Fr Fiorenzo’s input, both during the retreat and in the formation about the “Gift of Self,” was meaningful for people’s hearts. “It was an occasion to assess my commitment, my being and my way of acting.” “I understand more now the Gift of Self in relationship to the Eucharist.” “It helped me to reanimate my own vocation.” “It helped me at a religious and human level.” “It was a vocational renewal.”
The need for dialogue with youth.
“It was good to meet the youth and to share with them.” “Not only to involve the youth but for us to be involved with them.” “The joy and the availability of the youth.”
Concern about the future of the Congregation.
I take home:
- “The necessity of knowing in a better way the document ‘Follow Me’”
- “The responsibility to pursue a follow-up to the conclusions of this meeting”
- “The desire to accompany the vocations of those who are called in a better way”
- “A new project for the Vocational Apostolate”
- “Desire to work for this project”
A well-prepared meeting.
“Clear and precise contents.”. “Important topics, particularly regarding sexual abuse.” “Everything fine: house, food, timing.” “Interesting and concrete topics.”
- A more dynamic animation.
- Three days will be enough … it was tiring at the end.
- The need for more witnesses.
- A setting that will be more silent and will offer the possibility for complete participation of everyone.
- These meetings could be held more often, every 2-3 years (many people suggested this).
It is not easy to give an account of everything lived during these five days. I hope the participants will agree with me in this synthesis.
As for me, I will like to thank all the participants for their availability for the services of the liturgy, table, and writing of the diary, but above all, for their inner availability to live these occasions. A special thanks to the hosts of the Vocational House, Anyel and Chepe.
It was an exceptional meeting and it will surely live in everyone’s memory. Now we have to see some fruits of it.
Father Camilo Gagnon, sss
SSS Latin American Conference