On November 15 and 17, 2022, the Province of St. Joseph, Spouse of the B.V.M. in Romania conducted its annual ongoing formation event, over two days, for the friars of the Province. The event took place in Roman, Romania.

There was excellent attendance on the part of the friars, along with some apologies from those who, for valid reasons, were unable to attend. The speaker during the event was the psychologist Marina VENCESLAI, who is herself from St. Francis’ beautiful Italian region of Umbria. She spoke on the theme of fraternity. Each day was very intensive and full of content, group discussion, debate, and exchange of views. However, there were also wonderful moments of prayer and fraternity. The Vicar Provincial of the Province of Romania, Friar Ionel-Emilian DUMEA, organized the Mass and prayer program for the event.
The overall goal of the event was to integrate new discoveries of psychology and neuroscience with Christian anthropology. The speaker guided the participants on the assumption that they already had a lot of knowledge and experience of fraternity. Her vast experience in the area of psychological counseling for religious, furnished her with a valuable store of real-life examples that helped the friars better understand and follow her discourse.
Religious fraternity has been defined as an agreement between people who are not brothers, but who live together with a deep feeling of mutual affection and love. By asking pointed questions about relational difficulties, the speaker stimulated the friars to analyze how they build fraternity. She clearly indicated the danger of forming stereotypical opinions about the other friar nearby. In order to really create fraternity, it is necessary to abandon prejudices and truly make room for the other. It is necessary to come out of oneself in order to enter into the other through a process of empathy. This is one of the essential steps for building fraternity.
Another very important step consists in embracing the awareness of oneself, and others, as created beings, with bodies minds and souls. Human beings have many needs that they try to meet in their encounters with others. We need to develop skills that help us tolerate those who are different from us. Without this mindset, the other does not exist except in one’s selfish search for self-confirmation.
In order to grow in fraternity, we need to act responsibly as adults, to avoid dependence and its dynamics of irresponsibility. We must live in relationship as equals, between adults, and make space for the other while tolerating the tension of encountering someone who is different from oneself.
After the lecture, the friars gathered in groups for further discussion. A summary of the group discussions was reported to the assembly, before the speaker started her second lecture. The speaker, having reviewed the summary, was able to provide additional valuable insights.
We offer our thanks to the Lord for the gift of fraternity; to the speaker for the gentle way she conveyed her knowledge and experience; and to the friars for their dutiful participation and discussion.

Friar Lucian HORLESCU