Félix

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Our brother Félix RAJAONARIVELO

Member of the international team and continental responsible of Africa

Felix has gone with the father after his illness of liver cancer.

He was being treated at a hospital in Bangalore, India, with the help of many Brothers of the fraternity and his family. He returned to Madagascar on 8 may, and on the eve of Pentecost, at 14, 50, in the Carmelo of Amborovy, where we had our meeting the international team in 2014, gave his spirit to God and began the life of the blessed.

Today, 5 June, held his mass of resurrection in the Cathedral of Mahajanga.

I am sad and happy at the same time. This dear brother leaves a void, and also hope. Felix has given a lot to the fraternity and the Church in Madagascar, and his life we must encourage to continue announcing Jesus attended Nazareth-style. He is going to continue to help before the Father with his intercession and indestructible smile.

The international team and all the brothers of the priestly fraternities Iesus Caritas in the world, along with the family Charles de FOUCAULD in Madagascar have the aching heart; Felix will change us sadness in joy, as risen Jesus to your friends.

Thanks, Felix, for everything you have given us. Thank you for your welcome and your Nazareth. You will always be with us.

Aurelio SANZ BAEZA,
brother responsible

5 June 2017

PDF: FÉLIX, engl

Letter of Jean François and Aurelio, Vernon, March 2017

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Dear brothers,

We have worked this week on Fraternity affairs and especially, in relation to those who are at the heart of our concern and who motivate us, that is to say, each one of you. In this little Nazareth that is Vernon, at the home of our brother François MARIN, who has hosted us as if we were his sons, we remember you and thank God that you are our brothers. Many thanks, François, for providing a resting place for the pilgrim and receiving your brothers.

We centred our work on reviewing pending Fraternity issues in a good climate of dialogue, sharing ideas, viewpoints and the concern to resolve outstanding matters and for the immediate future operation of the Fraternity: the questionnaires for the European Assembly this Summer in Poland, and for the World meeting in India in January 2019, the finances of the International Fraternity, the furnishing of a 2016 Fraternity report to be sent to the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican, the new fraternity in Haiti, preparations for the meeting of responsibles and delegates of the Charles de FOUCAULD Family in April in Aachen, echoes of the Centenary of brother Charles, which arrive from different countries, our concerns for the health of Félix, from Madagascar, and the recovery of Suso, from Spain, having undergone surgery, etc.

On Monday, 6th March we shared with the responsibles for the Regions of Île de France and Normandy (Yves de MALLMANN, Joseph JOURJON, Louis YON and Xavier CHAVANE) in an extended time of dialogue and encounter. It was wonderful to be able to meet each other in fraternity, in order to share in common the realities of our fraternities and our concerns. We believe that in Europe we are living through a time of transition which is a real Nazareth with the ageing of our Fraternities. There is a very serious call to live this moment with optimism and with of love for this Nazareth spirituality while we are ever older with few young members joining us. Living simply and at the same time the commitment of a universal brotherhood in an Europe that is very focused on itself, and inward looking, rejecting the stranger, the refugee, full of fears that give rise to an increase of populist politics and reactionary trends. Faced with all this, and in line with Pope Francis, we feel called to give witness to Brother Charles’ message of universal brotherhood and the missionary character of our charism as the Jesus Caritas Fraternity of Priests. Dialogue with Muslims in Europe we believe to be possible, and many expressions of rapprochement are to be found in a great many Christian communities. Prejudices must come down and the temptation to regard others as a threat. For example, in France, a third of working class areas are Muslim. We must learn how to enter into dialogue with this reality.

On Tuesday 7th we had a visit from Jacques GAILLOT, Titular Bishop of Partenia, a member of the Fraternity who came from Paris to share in our work in Jean François’ home. The time we spent together was a great gift from the moment we picked him up at the Vernon train-station until his departure. We could learn from the wisdom of the simple how to be more humanitarian, how to be priests in a difficult world, how to be open to hope and how to live without the securities and comforts of being Westerners. Thank you, Jacques, for coming to spend time with us and for all the testimonies throughout your life of a dedication to the cause of Jesus.

On Wednesday 8th we worked in the morning and in the afternoon, we approached Gouville, in order to be with Michel PINCHON, whom we found to be strong and sound. His home is open to numerous visits of the people of the locality or from further afield with whom he shares with generosity his experience and wisdom. We had supper with Jean Louis RATTIER and took part in the meeting of the Bible workshop of his parish in Damville, sharing on his pastoral activity and his day to day work. It is always rewarding to take part in each brother’s Nazareth, both exterior and interior. Nazareth is the lived experience of how we situate ourselves fraternally before all that surrounds us, in an ever-closer union with Jesus.

We highly valued the work of Fernando TAPIA, Jean Michel BORTHEIRIE and Manuel POZO in Almería, Spain, drawing up a basic outline on the Month of Nazareth. This document will be studied for approval at the Bangalore Assembly. Thanks to these brothers for having responded to this request from us in the International Team.

Let us remember that we must make an effort in all regions to support the International fund, especially as the next World Assembly in Bangalore in 2019 has a budget to meet and we need to cover expenses. As an International Team we try to save resources as much as possible. Our thanks to those fraternities who have already generously paid their share.

Our web-site iesuscaritas.org is open to the contributions of all fraternities. We await your articles, news and notices of forthcoming to publish them in our Diary. This is a means of communication that brings us closely together.

Our time of reflection has also taken into account the call to live, as a Fraternity, our ministry as missionaries within the diocesan presbyterate, wherever we are based, be it a parish, a hospital, a prison, or with organisations that help refugees, or people displaced by war or poverty, or in places that care for the needy of our societies, with the call to go to the last, like Charles de FOUCAULD, because it is there that we meet Christ. As Pope Francis reminds us, there is no spiritual life without an open, generous and merciful heart.

Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ…I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security… More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus tirelessly repeats to us: Give them something to eat yourselves” (Mk 6:37). (Evangelli Gaudium, 49)

From Vernon, we wish you a holy Lent and a path to Easter with Jesus and the brothers and sisters as companions on the road.

A big embrace.

Jean François and Aurelio

Vernon, Normandy, France, 10 March, 2017

(Thanks so much, Liam, for translate to English)

PDF: Letter of Jean François and Aurelio, Vernon, March 2017, eng.

WEND BE NE DO, a project born in the fraternities

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WEND BE NE DO was born of a united spirit between Burkina Faso and Spain by means of the Charles de FOUCAULD fraternities. To go to the last, to be with them, to work for them, to place ourselves on the periphery of the comfortable world in which we live day by day, is a challenge which the Tienda Asilo Foundation of San Pedro de Cartagena has taken on seriously since 2005 and, likewise, all the people, organizations, institutions and parishes who have helped and continue to help us to carry on the project that charms, that makes you feel that it is worthwhile working for the people of Burkina Faso and especially for the children, adolescents, youths and adults of WBND in the area of Bam, who are affected by HIV-AIDS. We can see that the project is spreading, that it is growing that the people are getting better, that it is like a big family that leaves nobody out. It is a human space where you don’t feel foreign even if our skin betrays that we are Westerners.

PDF: WBND Report January 2017, eng

THE ISLAND OF LESBOS, A REFUGE OF HOPE. Carlos LLANO

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Carlos LLANO is a sportsman, economist, founder of the NGO Childhood Smile and a volunteer and co-worker with the Foundation Tienda Asilo de San Pedro of Cartagena, Spain, in the WEND BE NE DO project in Burkina Faso. He recently went as a volunteer to the island of Lesbos, in Greece, to work with refugees. We offer his valuable testimony. Thanks, Carlos.

We live at such a pace and so attached to our mundane first world needs that if we could to stand back and take a good look at ourselves, we would feel ourselves revolted. The world has serious problems to solve: it is estimated that there are 300,000 child soldiers and that already in 2016 some 5,000 refugees or migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean, but generally we are more concerned about our petty first world problems than that which may be happening beyond our borders, terrible and all as these events are.

We see them so distant that, since we think we can do so little, we end up doing nothing. The problems of the world are not solved by accepting them with resignation or indifference or by blaming governments. The world’s problems are mine, they’re yours, they are ours. The world changes affected and inspired by our day to day behaviour. If I don’t want to see any more drownings, I must make the firm decision to go and do my tiny bit, that no matter how small it is, it is gigantic compared to inaction or the hundreds of messages that we can post on our social websites.

Lesbos is a small Greek island in the middle of the Aegean Sea very close to the Turkish coast. There are two refugee camps there: Karatepe, which still retains a certain dignity, where there are entire families, mainly of Syrians, but which could even have families from the Dominican Republic. Yes, I repeat, from the Dominican Republic. When you have nothing, you will even risk your life, because you have nothing to lose besides it, and desperation can reach such a level that even life becomes worthless.

In Karatepe each family has its own UNHCR tent, they have blankets, mattresses and the REMAR volunteers assume the task of bringing them two meals daily delivered to the very door. The children play in the tent ‘estate’, and with hope for a better life it seems that not all is lost.

The other refugee camp is Moria. An old prison with capacity for 2,000 people where more than 5,000 are crammed into large field tents which float when it rains and the mud slides down the embankment. The tension is patent and one’s only desire is to get through those high fences full of barbs. Here there are no families, there are lots of young men and some women with young children. Each one with their own nationality, customs, language and culture. Nigerian youths who are fleeing because Boko Haram kills, kidnaps and tortures whoever they wish. Pakistani teenagers who no longer wish to live in a country where Isis comes to a village to slit the throats of all the women and shoot all the men until the village is left without a trace of life. These are true stories that they have recounted to me while I helped for hours carrying out the banality of cutting kilos and kilos of potatoes to allow those thousands of youths, women and children to eat united in desperation seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, seeing that the authorities keep them there forgotten and with the passage of time we remember them less and less in our thoughts. The dehumanization is such that criminal gangs have turned the problem into a profitable business where they charge between 3,000 and 5,000 euros per person for a boat journey without any security, overweight as a result of cramming more and more people without even room to move, where no individual is allowed carry any luggage, as it would take up space that another refugee could pay for, and with a few lifejackets filled with rubbish rather than air, which in case of need and for its lack of buoyancy, will cost another life, adding to the number of 5,000 people who have already drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016. Our disquiet or our indifference remain in the face of this human disaster that seems to be a total impasse. To change the world is in our hands.

Carlos LLANO FERNÁNDEZ

PDF: The Island of Lesbos, a Refuge of Hope, eng

LETTER FROM RUDY, Poland, July 2017

LETTER FROM RUDY, MESSAGE OF THE JESUS CARITAS PRIESTS’ FRATERNITY FROM THE EUROPEAN ASSEMBLY OF RUDY,
Poland, from 12 to 19 July 2017.

“Czes’c” (pronounced “Chech’tch”): by this Polish greeting we come to meet with you, fraternities of Europe, and send you this message, fruit of our work but also of our prayer. Thanks to our caring hosts and to the meetings they organized for us in various parishes, we have come closer to the realities of their country and of their Church and have let the theme of our assembly echo around: “Diocesan priests and missionaries, inspired by the testimony of Charles de Foucauld.

IN THE EUROPEAN CONTEXT OF SECULARIZATION

The gospel of the second day of the assembly, offered by the liturgy, sets the tone of our message: “Behold, I send you as sheep among wolves … be cunning as serpents and innocent as doves … (Mt 10,16)

Each of our countries, at various speeds, observes the phenomenon of secularization: a reduction in church attendance, evolutions of mentioned values, civil laws distancing themselves from the Christian tradition … In a nutshell religion is not popular. Communities and priests are engaged in this movement and must make a decision: accept or refuse it? Compromise or compromise themselves? The status of the priest suffers from this: a modified identity, a diminished social standing, a lesser authority … One can understand why young people are hesitant to embark on such an insecure path and to commit for the long term.

As members of the Jesus Caritas Fraternity we are not spared by this secularization, which taints our way of life and our mission; the question is: how to transmit a tradition, a Word in this secularized day? Charles de Foucauld went far away; but today the mission begins at the front door of our neighbour.

The cunning of the serpent and the Innocence of the dove are necessary to carry out the mission and to make one’s way through listening, study and work: “to make a dictionary”. To take into account the actual culture demands time and we do not have not much time.

DIOCESAN PRIESTS IN A MISSIONARY CHURCH

Our exchanges have shown that in most of our countries the development of secularization, consumerism and individualism made evangelisation both difficult and necessary and that many initiatives were appearing to give back its rightful place to the Word of God, to a more fraternal parish life and to the care of the “peripheries”. Recognizing and promoting the role of the laity in evangelization is a necessity.

In some dioceses, the bishops have encouraged the formation of groups whose first task is to promote the training of the baptized by deepening their understanding of the faith and their spiritual life. In the long run, these evangelisation groups will be able to focus on the aim of reaching a larger community, especially those of other faiths, not primarily to convert them but to promote mutual understanding and acceptance, as well as to communicate the joy of the Gospel.

As a result of the lack of priests, priests from Africa and India come to many of our dioceses to work for evangelization. With good support to help them understand the culture that welcomes them, their presence can be a great blessing for the Church, in places where the congregations are already multicultural.

This lack of priests also leads to the regrouping of parishes, which offers the laity the opportunity to take greater responsibilities in the field of evangelization as well as in the various services. But an effort has to be made to better identify the talents of one and all and to know how best to value them.

Many successful paths have been taken with young people in the dioceses, such as the World Youth Day or other initiatives. It is undoubtedly worthwhile to devote energy and time to the formation of young people, helping them to find ways to resist the pressure of consumerism. But this must not make us forget the need to train adults and give them more autonomy.

We are always aware that evangelization does not occur first in our churches but in public places. Examples have been shared of initiatives in shopping malls or other public places, seeking to reach a wider audience. The various interventions of our assembly have developed the conviction that priests need to give a sense of responsibility to the lay faithful in the work of evangelization, to accompany them and to collaborate with them. In the same way, priests and lay people evangelize more effectively when the joy of the Gospel shows through in their own lives.

INSPIRED BY THE TESTIMONY OF BROTHER CHARLES

The evangelical radicalism of Charles de Foucauld, drawn from contemplative prayer and adoration, his choice of poverty and his desire to be like Jesus in Nazareth, put us in front of the “weakness of God ” and lead us to the cast off all pastoral pretensions.

The testimony of Fr. Charles helps us to be priests

– who learn to go back to the Gospel to fill themselves with the spirit of Jesus

– who choose the simple life going as far as poverty to first show the “work” of the grain of wheat fallen to the ground (cf Jn 12:24): the true success of God is revealed in His utter poverty. Hence the invitation to go to “existential peripheries”, to show solidarity with the poor, to get closer to the humble and the crucified in History. Universal brotherhood has its root in obedience to God the Father and to the poor brethren who reveal Jesus to us; the poor is a true “theological place” of the closeness of God and leads to adoration.

– who learn to listen: first to Jesus who speaks to us in the Gospel, in the Eucharist and in the silence of the desert, but also to every man, in order to be evangelized by the encounter of a humanity already marked by the presence of the Spirit. We can be converted in this sense by the icon of the Visitation. Listening to others and their lives requires patience in the reciprocal gift of a human and friendly presence. The time given to listening and to the friendly meeting is an important and precious time to clear the ground before sowing the seed of the Gospel. With such an attitude we can play, now and in the future, a significant role in meeting and having a dialogue with our Muslim brothers, who are present in most of our countries.

– who undertake to live a priestly fraternity as a providential place to discover the will of God (revision of life) and to help them live a discreet apostolate, stripped of all external means, trusting entirely in Jesus; and to welcome the last place, the one Jesus would have chosen.

FACED WITH THE RARITY OF VOCATIONS

In the majority of our European countries, the decline in the number of candidates to the priesthood is very important. The general context of secularization explains it, as well as a culture of immediacy: freedom without commitment, autonomy without responsibility, lack of silence. We notice, however, that many young people show great acts of generosity.

Our response to encouraging the welcomed acceptance of the call of God is through the testimony of our own life as a priest: what place does it give to silence, to the desert? Does it know how to keep in touch with the young to listen and accompany them?

Communities that truly live from the presence of the Risen Lord are the best ground for vocations and the example of the Blessed Charles de Foucauld, whose life was fruitful in the long term, is an encouragement.

CALLS FOR A SIMPLE LIFE

The encyclical of Pope Francis Laudato si needs to be implemented. Faced with the temptation to consume and accumulate, an education to learn to share remains to be done. To show solidarity, you must be sober! For us priests, it is a question of leading a life not poor, but simple, which will make us accessible to all. Laudato si invites us to a “happy sobriety” and encourages the good actions: recycling; sorting; saving water, energy and raw materials; favouring public transport; investing in fair trade … But the encyclical seeks most of all to promote “integral ecology”, which gives priority to the interests of the “common house”. In this sense, the current crisis of caring for refugees challenges us and cannot leave us inactive.

Our European Assembly also had the responsibility to elect a new Responsible for 6 years: Kuno KOHN, from Hamburg, Germany, was elected and accepted the assignment. We want to thank him, as well as John McEVOY (of Ireland) who held this responsibility for the past 6 years. Our next Assembly, in 2020, will be held in England.

PDF: LETTER FROM RUDY, Poland, July 2017, eng

Letter from Camarillo, Come and See

COME AND SEE
LETTER FROM CAMARILLO
ASSEMBLY OF THE JESUS CARITAS FRATERNITY OF PRIESTS IN UNITED STATES

Above all, always see Jesus in every person, and consequently treat each one not only as an equal and as a brother or sister, but also with great humility, respect and selfless generosity.

— Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Dear Brothers,

We are 18 priests and a Bishop who gathered at St. John Seminary in Camarillo, CA from July 17th to the 21ST for the triannual Assembly of the Jesus Caritas Fraternity of Priests USA. We came from all areas of our country and were delighted to welcome Fr. Fernando Tapia, from Santiago, Chile, who servers as our Pan American Responsible.* We were also blessed to have the wisdom of six former National Responsibles at this assembly including Bishop Don Hanchon who now serves as our liaison to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.

This Assembly marked our fiftieth anniversary as an independent Region of the Jesus Caritas International Fraternity of Priests. Fr. Dan Danielson was elected the first National Responsible of Jesus Caritas USA in 1967. It was his efforts that lead to the creation of hundreds of fraternities throughout the United States. He has dedicated his life to the service of his brother priests.

Dan was a member of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry and helped write the Bishops’ document, “The Spiritual Renewal of the American Priesthood.” He also co-founded the National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy. His own local fraternity has been meeting for over 50 years. Dan’s passion for encouraging fraternity among priests also inspired him to lead 100 priests’ retreats over his lifetime.

For all these reasons it was a joy for us at the Assembly to celebrate Fr. Dan Danielson as the inaugural recipient of the Universal Brother Award. This Award is presented by the Jesus Caritas Fraternity USA at its annual gathering to a Diocesan priest who exemplifies the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and has discovered through his message a way of living the Gospel more fully to the ends of the earth, in fraternal sharing with his brother priests, in caring for the least among us, and in silent adoration of our Eucharistic Lord.

We came to the Assembly still feeling the void left by the recent deaths of two of our former National Responsibles, Fr. Mike Smith and Msgr. Howie Calkins. Both men were humble and holy priests who through their gentle humor taught us all to live with joy. So, we prayed in thanksgiving for all our brothers in fraternity who have gone on to Glory. How good it was to be in fraternity with them!

And praying for an ever increasing number of deceased brothers underscored for us that by far, the most striking trend facing our fraternities is that we are aging and dying off. This of course is reflective of a general trend in the American priesthood. In 1990, there were a little over 34,000 diocesan priests in the U.S.; in 2014 the number had dwindled down to 16,462 active diocesan priests. In 2014, 3,448 out of our 17,337 parishes were without a resident priest. This can all be somewhat discouraging. It is a trend that is bringing ever increasing stress and isolation to the Diocesan priesthood.

In preparing our answers to the Questionnaire for the International Assembly in Bangalore,

India, we also reflected upon the challenges that we face with the complex political and economic realities of our day. Both in our civil and faith communities we are a divided people. The Church remains the largest provider of services and outreach to the poor and yet we talk less and less prophetically about social justice issues. We experience great polarity not only in our politics but also in our faith communities. There is growing economic disparity. The poor fear they will be left without health care and the “stranger” in our midst fears at any moment he will be deported. There is an ever increasing secularization of our culture that affects our ministry every day. And yet, as priests, we seldom talk about these challenges; much less bring them to our prayer.

How do we respond to all of this? Do we “circle the wagons” and simply concern ourselves with “walking each other home” until the last priest in our dwindling fraternities “turns out the lights.” Our do we realize that we still have “a little blood left in our veins” and continue to reach out to our brother priests, especially our younger brothers who face such tremendous challenges, to share with them the fraternal spirituality that has enriched our lives and ministry? We have a gift to share and moving forward from this assembly we realize that we need to tell our story and invite our brother priests to come and see.

Our spirituality finds its roots in the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld who many judge to have lived a very odd life as a missionary diocesan priest in the Sahara Desert where he was eventually shot to death on December 1, 1916. While his life may seem “distant” to the experience of most Diocesan priests today, the priests of the fraternities have found that the elements of his spiritual life (a life rooted in the gospel, Eucharistic adoration and contemplative prayer, simplicity of life and love for the poor, an openness to all and fraternity with our brother priests) offer a wonderful foundation for our priesthood. We commit ourselves to a life rich in prayer as we search for the face of God in life and the people we meet every day.

As Fernando Tapia reminded us in his meditations during the Assembly ours is an Incarnation Spirituality. “God did not simply wave his magic wand over our humanity and retreat to heaven.” ** Jesus immersed himself in our humanity. In the spirit of Blessed Charles our Fraternity tries to follow Jesus, the Nazorean. It was in his daily life at Nazareth that Jesus was schooled in the ways of the Kingdom. Thus in the Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis reminds us that “an evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in the people. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.” (EG 24).

We in the Jesus Caritas Fraternity USA are not ready to “turn out the lights”. As with most movements in the Church, there may come the day when our time as past. But we still have a gift to share. By acclamation we reconfirmed Fr. Jerry “Hap” Ragan as our National Responsible. We recommit ourselves to sharing the gift of Fraternity with our Bishops and with our seminarians. We recommit ourselves to helping our brothers who are already in Fraternity to come to a deeper understanding of our spirituality and we invite our brother priests and bishops who are searching for a great spiritual support system to “Come and See” the priestly fraternity that has so enriched our lives.

Fraternally in Christ,

 

+ Don Hanchon Fernando Tapia Mark Mertes
Jerry “Hap” Ragan Dan Danielson Tom McCormick
Don Dunn Greg Pawloski Bob Amundsen
Ron Belisle Joe Greeley John Jacquel
Dick Rossman Chuck Roland Sammy Taylor
Will Connor Alejandro Trejo Estrada John Murray
Norman Supancheck

*The first three Jesus Caritas Fraternities were organized in France in 1952. They adopted the French concept of leadership and so used the term Responsible to designate the leader.

** J. Metz in Poverty of Spirit

PDF: Letter from Camarillo, Come and See, USA Fraternity JC Assembly 2017