From December 12-22, 2022, the Provincial Custodies of St. Francis of Assisi in Colombia and Our Lady of Coromoto in Venezuela conducted a joint formation meeting for post-novices. The event took place at the San José de Cupertino Friary and Formation House in Palmira, Venezuela.
Those attending the meeting included the Custodial Vicar and Head of Initial Formation in Venezuela, Friar Carlos R. ORTÍZ ROJAS; the Vice-Rector of post-novices, Friar Alexander HERNÁNDEZ BLANCO; the post-novices of the Custody of Colombia: Friars Javier A. SOGAMOSO VAQUIRO, David VELÁZQUEZ and Cristian DE LA CRUZ; and the post-novices of the Custody of Venezuela: Friars Gabriel J. GARCÍA GONZÁLEZ, Williams G. SUÁREZ PAREDES, José Darío ROJAS ARAQUE, Cristian D. TERÁN GAMBOA and Deiby J. MEDINA GUERRERO. The formation sessions during the meeting were focused on the whole person (intention, attitudes and gestures) being conformed to the Lord Jesus, in the style of St. Francis. (cf. Const. 129, §3). The topics covered during the formation meeting included the approach to other spiritualties and the crosscutting nature of our own Franciscan spirituality; the history, Rule and recent activities of our confreres in the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS); the importance of guiding Franciscan Youth (YouFra); the Christmas at Greccio; being a follower of Francis according to the Franciscan Sources and the celebrations of the Franciscan Centenary, in particular the history of the Earlier Rule, a topic taught online by Friars Elio ROJAS, Marcos A. QUESADA NAVARRO, and by Friar Luis Alirio MOLINA MÁRQUEZ who was personally present. Some confreres from the OFS in Palmyra also participated.
In addition to the formation activities, there was fraternal time for the friars to share their respective cultures and discuss the Conventual Franciscan experience in their countries. Overall, this formation event took place in fraternal and family-like atmosphere. The participants prayed the Liturgy of the Hours together, celebrated Mass, provided service during the liturgies, and organized hymns to be sung that everyone knew, so as to facilitate participation. The friars also went on some outings to see some beautiful places in Venezuela, namely, the seminaries near the formation house in Palmira, the Bum Bum River in Barinas, the Victoria and Mucubají Lakes, the monument to “ La Loca Luz Caraballo” [The Madwoman Luz Caraballo] in Mérida, the historic stone chapel of Nuestra Señora de Coromoto, the city center of Mérida (the seminary, the Plaza de las Heroínas, the cathedral and the seat of the state government) and some of the friaries of the Custody.
The goal during every moment of this productive formation meeting was to nurture the friars’ spirit of humility, simplicity, obedience and charity, to call the friars to be submissive to divine grace, to encourage them to generously cooperate and be open with their formators and the fraternity, so they might grow in the awareness of their Conventual Franciscan identity and mature in it.
Friar Carlos R. ORTÍZ ROJAS / Editorial Staff