On July 16-20, 2018, a meeting for formators was held for eighteen friars who diirect initial formation. The meeting took place at the Senhor de Bonfim friary and post-novitiate house in Santo André, part of the Province of St. Francis in Brazil (São Paulo). These formators work in the postulancy houses and novitiates of various Jurisdictions within the Federación América Latina Conventuales (FALC). They include Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay and Bolivia.
The FALC common formation project was founded in Medellín, in 2011, in coordination with the General Secretariat for Formation and the FALC Presidency Council. The formators met, mindful of the intentions of the founding Superiors, to gain a deeper, theoretical-reflective and experiential understanding of formation and thus enhance their mission as guides in the formation process.
The meeting aimed at understanding what essential elements were considered indispensable for formation. In other words, what were the “non-negotiable” elements of human and Franciscan formation, which must be present in any common novitiate proposal. These elements should also provide guidelines for a more qualified postulancy, thus helping one to continue on in the formation processes in the FALC Jurisdictions
Experts in psychology and spirituality further developed these themes, making the friars more aware of the human component. This is something formators are intimately aware of as they deal with the private and personal issues of the young people whom God has called. These youth are the sacred clay that formators must care for, responsibly and with compassion.
In addition, the coordinating team of the meeting presented a well-made synthesis of one of the common Franciscan formation processes, with ideals designed and planned by all and for all, and that are bearing fruit in the formation field for the common novitiates in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. It has taken years of effort, but it is giving formation in the FALC a more Latin American aspect.
The meeting took place in a fraternal and joyful atmosphere, with time for prayer, Mass, meals and discussions. At the end of the day, the friars got to learn more about the life of the Jurisdictions through photos and audiovisual material.
In conclusion, the friars confirmed that improving formation is everyone’s commitment in the FALC, walking together and supporting each other with enthusiasm and responsibility in taking up the work of formation in each Jurisdiction.
Finally, the friars visited the Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida, asking for Mary’s intercession for the Conventual Franciscan family in Latin America.
We thank each of the Jurisdictions for their responsible and fraternal participation in this meeting. We especially thank the friars of the Province of São Paulo for their hospitality. Through their many small details, they made us feel at home from the beginning. Finally we would also like to thank the coordinating team of the meeting, the Secretary General for Formation and the FALC Presidency Council, for their great and demanding work at the service of the Order.
Friar Franklin Antonio DURÁN ZAMBRANO