Sister Gelsomina Rodas, of Bogotá, Colombia, shares some echoes of the 50th anniversary of the Ecclesial Congress in Medellín: Prophecy, Communion, and Participation.
Organized by the Latin American Episcopal Conference, the Conference of Religious of Latin America and the Caribbean, and Caritas Latin America, the Congress was held in Medellin, Colombia, from the 24th to 26th August 2018. It brought together some 450 participants, religious, laity, bishops, priests, seminarians, and deacons.
Three Daughters of Jesus participated in open dialogue and reflection groups, each with a different theme. Deysi Nohemí Ordóñez chose ecology, Teresa Kervinio opted for the Word of God while I chose Consecrated Life. In the light of the keynote speeches and the discussions in the 22 “learning communities”, we discerned the signs of the times for a “Church that goes out”.
Throughout the Congress, the method of “See, Judge, Act” was followed and animated by Father José María Arnaiz, SM, (See) Sr. Maria Teresa Maya (Judge) and Father Alberto Luna Pastore, S.J. (Act). I share with you some of the fruits of the presentations and of the learning community in which I participated.
Some of the dreams expressed
- Emphasize the missionary ardour of consecrated life and unite the strength and wealth of our charisms in order to respond to the cries of the poor of today.
- Revitalize consecrated life and respond prophetically to the cries of the poor.
- Seek ways to live communion and inter-congregationality.
See: see and hear the cries of our contemporaries
“Go,” “listen,”, “come down” (Ex 3: 7-8): God sees the affliction, hears the cries and comes down to set his people free. We see and hear the reality of today’s exciting and challenging times in the form of cries.
- We “looked gratefully at the past” remembering the Church event in Medellín in 1968.
- we saw the post-conciliar fruits of these 50 years and lived intensely how it is still present.
- We “embraced the future with hope”.
In recent times we have seen the presence of congregational charisms in lay people who share with communities of consecrated life and speak of their ideals, their spirit, and their mission.
Judge: a renewing, evangelizing and missionary regard
Sister Maria Teresa Maya, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) of the U.S.A shared with us: “The censuses of consecrated life locate us in the cities, and not necessarily on the margins, let alone in the mountains or in the jungle. God save us from a destiny without “Wifi”. I dare to think that we can continue to say that we are not only less in number, but that we are less dispersed throughout the margins / borders to which we have been called “.
We see that, as consecrated persons, we live a witness of communion from the point of view of our fragility and vulnerability. It is time to appreciate that God is at work among us. It is time to “judge” with the eyes of God, to see what is being done and what form of evangelical life is emerging among us.
The present moment calls us to recreate a consecrated life that is smaller, less institutional and without frontiers. Consecrated life has no frontiers.
Act: the paths of life, truth, and freedom
Consecrated life is invited to:
- To promote a Trinitarian and Christocentric spirituality, to live our following of Jesus with joy and passion.
- To recover the mysticism and prophecy of our charisms and to humanize the processes of formation and leadership.
- To promote a missionary exodus and a culture of encounter.
- To recognize the pre-eminence of the poor by personally and communally examining our lifestyles, relationships and apostolic presence in the Church and in society.
- To seek new ways of experiencing simplicity and minority by way of an affective and effective closeness to the poor.
- To encourage an authentic ecological conversion by promoting a more sober and simpler lifestyle, thus giving a new and prophetic expression of religious poverty in a predatory consumer society.
- To reconfigure our structures and give new meaning to the vows, accompanying the processes of mourning, loss, pruning, and reduction, offering spiritual resources, and encouraging spaces for the sharing of experiences between congregations.
All of this so that restructuring may be a real transition towards structures that are open to new perspectives, a professional culture, an authentic living out of our charisms, a circularity and evangelical fraternity in the service of mission.
We feel in communion
During the closing Eucharist of the Congress, we were very present to the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan peoples. As a Latin American Church, as religious, we cannot remain indifferent to the sufferings and cries of these people.
“Medellín 1968 channeled the kairos of the Second Vatican Council for Latin America and the Caribbean ; it continues to be present and urgent, and its 50th anniversary may once again be a new ” Pentecost “for the Church and the religious life of the continent, insofar as it becomes a point of departure for the realization of the dynamism that it triggers: the sense of the poor, of small ecclesial communities, of the centrality of the Word of God.
It is Paul’s motto that inspires us to continue on this path by way of these commitments :
“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” (Ph 3:16)
Sr Gelsomina Rodas, Provincial