On the occasion of the year of Consecrated life called by Pope Francis, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life organised an International Conference for formators. In Rome there was a meeting of 1300 consecrated persons who came from 106 countries of the 5 continents representing 500 charisms. The Congregation invited the diverse cultures to reflect on the fundamentals of the identity of consecrated life in the Church and in the world and of the demands on stages of formation in the contemporary context.
A unique occasion for sharing the riches of our experiences and feeling that, in spite of diminishing numbers of religious, religious life is alive and is a gift for the Church and the world.
The Conference gave us an opportunity to question one another on the challenges which religious life is asked to face in order to offer the young a formation which responds to the world today. To follow these objectives many places were offered:
- The possibility of asking questions to those giving the conference, men and women coming from diverse cultures and with different formations
- Work round a “table”. The participants had been divided according to language into 8/10 groups; I was in “table 54”.
- From the first morning we stayed at the tables assigned and began to get to know our companions with whom we would share during the conference. Each day we found the same people round the same table and this allowed us to develop a friendship of exchanges, experiences, of questions, of joys and of tiredness. “Table 54” Italian language, was composed of individuals from different countries. Italians in the majority (7 out of 10) the others from Chile, Poland, Slovakia (all speaking an excellent Italian). Coming from diverse congregations: friars minor, Salesians, Cenacle, Monastic communities, Eudes, Oratorians, and Auxilliatrices. Although there were differences between us we created a good climate of confidence and listening.
- Workshops: Among the 17 workshops which were proposed I chose to participate in “A formation in communication in the digital era” led by a Salesian Sister and followed by 25. We dedicated an entire afternoon to this work; a lot of time in proportion to the length of the conference, but little time in regard immensity of the topic. This was the time of sharing our reflections and aroused a desire in us to deepen this theme.
In our prayer we prayed for the Christians who were persecuted in various parts of the world. I experienced an especially touching moment when Father Carballo, the secretary of the Congregation, invited those in the assembly who came from the places where there is persecution, to stand, so that we were able to see them. Little by little they began to stand and there were, to my surprise, a large number. A young sister wiped away her tears. We gave them our affection and our prayers, and wrote a press release which has been published in Osservatore Romano, Vatican City 10th April, in which we denounced with the “fragile voice and strong voice of the gospel” the persecution of Christians in various places the world and we gave them our support and prayer.
Saturday morning we had a very good and intense day: 8a.m.
we gathered at the obelisk in St. Peter’s square
to participate in a Eucharistic celebration in the basilica at 9.30
Then audience in Paul VI Hall where Pope Francis
addressed us in a lovely and encouraging talk.
“Consecrated life is beautiful; it is one of the most precious treasures in the Church, rooted in the work of the father who forms the heart of the Son in those who the Spirit has called...” As usual Pope Francis was challenging and we were invited to make a careful discernment among the candidates. He invited us to allow ourselves to be formed by our lives: Initial formation is discernment, and is the first step in a process destined to last throughout life, and the young are to be formed in a humble freedom and enough intelligence to leave to God the Father to train them every day of their lives, in every age, in the mission as in the community, in action as in contemplation. “
The day ended by the reading of the final document of the Conference.
Blessings on you formators
A kind of “identity card of formators“, according to the text of the Beatitudes. In order to give you the taste of this gift we have received, here is the first of the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you who feel poor before the duty of forming Christ in hearts, you who have confidence of the Son and brings to birth these emotions, these affections to sensitise myself; who alights the passion to announce so that we can make visible in our time, the type of life of the Son of God in the Holy Spirit, who reveal Jesus as “the most beautiful child of Man”.
It is the Spirit who arouses the desire to be conformed to Christ in the depth of the heart, who deepens these sentiments of the Son and brings to birth these emotions, these affections to sensitise myself, who alights the passion to announce so that we can make visible in our time, the form of life of the Son of God.
This means that the Gospel is revealed in a new way and the Reign of God is in the midst of us.
We have received the beatitudes as pearls in which are present the sentiments of Christ, to be assimulated in to enable us to be formators in the spirit of the Beatitudes in the style of Jesus.