From May 25 to July 13, 2019, five confreres in initial formation from the U.S. Provinces, participated in a formation event on the theme of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (GPIC). The event was led by Friar Michael LASKY, from the Province of Our Lady of the Angels in the U.S.A. (OLA).
The participating U.S. confreres were Friars Alejandro María “Steven” ARIAS-MOSQUERA (OLA); Ángel Oswaldo GARCÍA RODAS of the Province of St. Joseph of Cupertino in the U.S.A. (SJC); Richard ROME (OLA), Jason WARRER of the Province of St. Bonaventure in the U.S.A. (SB); and Jaime ZARAGOZA of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation in the U.S.A. (OLC). During the first weeks, they visited various settings connected with poverty (migrant centers, prisons, environmental justice centers and development projects) in places where the friars carry out their ministry, namely, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Kentucky and New Mexico in the U.S.A.
The program continued in Bogotá, Colombia, where the participants were fraternally welcomed by Friars Sidifredo de la Cruz CHAPARRO GUALDRÓN, Fabián ARRIETA BOTERO and the community of the Friary of San Antonio de Padua. The participants joined with the temporarily professed friars of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis of Assisi in Colombia (Friars Leonardo RÍOS MADERA, Camilo CALLE RAMÍREZ, David TABARES VÉLEZ and Cristian PEREIRA BLANCO), for a week of studying Latin American Theology, as it relates to the theme: “The Preferential Option for the Poor. Among various formation meetings, the group also attended a conference on “The Integral Ecology of Leonardo BOFF”. While in Bogotá, there was a visit to a number of settings connected with poverty and conflict, to “see”, “judge” and “act” according to the Gospel and the example of Pope Francis.
The group next traveled to the city of Medellín where they visited the novitiate of the Federación América Latina Conventuales (FALC). They joined with the Novice Master, Friar Pedro Pablo BERMÚDEZ and eleven novices from five different Jurisdictions (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Central America and Paraguay) to spend a week living alongside the most vulnerable, devoting themselves to removing trash from the Medellín River, visiting the sick, and engaging in moments of prayer and fraternity.
Finally, the friars moved on to El Salvador, to the Friary of San Antonio de Padua. There, they were welcomed by Friars Erick MARÍN CARBALLO, Javier Ernesto GUERRA and other friars of the community. The participants joined with the temporarily professed friars of the Provincial Custody of Mary Mother of Mercy in Central America (Friars Andrés QUESADA SOTO and José SARMIENTO SARMIENTO). While there, they studied the pastoral letter of the Most Reverend José Luis ESCOBAR ALAS, Archbishop of San Salvador, entitled “I See Violence and Discord in the City”. Then they visited some sites that, today, continue to suffer from the consequences of past wars, poverty, drugs, gangs and racism. At the same time, they discovered many voices of hope among the people, folks who have lived through and overcome armed conflicts.
This was a beautiful experience of Franciscan formation on the subject of GPIC. It helped make the friars more aware of the need to adopt a new lifestyle aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of people; combatting violence; rediscovering the urgent need to live the Gospel fully in the midst of poverty; and building pastoral alternatives that vanquish indifference and make our journey of discipleship more meaningful.
Friar Sidifredo de la Cruz CHAPARRO GUALDRÓN