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Dear Brothers of the Fraternities of America,
A very fraternal greeting from Cordoba, where we have been warmly welcomed by our Argentine brothers, in the House of Spiritual Exercises, Catalina de María. We have met brothers national leaders and delegates from seven countries: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, United States and Quebec-Acadie. We were encouraged by the messages sent by Eric Lozada, International Responsible, Angel Rossi, Archbishop of Cordoba, by Rafael Felipe, bishop emeritus and founder of our fraternity in the Dominican Republic and by the visit of Ricardo Seirutti auxiliary bishop of Cordoba.
Following the line of our World Assembly in Cebu, Philippines (2019) and the Guidelines of Pope Francis, we have focused on the theme of the EVANGELIZING MISSION.
We share missionary experiences carried out by our brothers in the geographical and existential peripheries of our America: people with disabilities, addicts, migrants, indigenous peoples, populations affectedby mining megaprojects, excluded minorities. by different peopleand patients. We also include priests in crisis. The brothers from Brazil shared with us a beautiful experience about it. They arevarious forms of poverty in which we find Christ Crucified and Risen, returning their dignity and hope to those whom our society discards, marginalizes and makes invisible. He has reached the peripheries before us missionaries and is doing His liberating work.
We feel signs and instruments of this Christ “who spent himself doing good” through closeness to the most vulnerable, attentive listening, dialogue, compassion and solitary action. Never alone. Always working with other priests, with religious, deacons, laity and laity and men and women of good will. The pandemic has taught us to network because “we are all in the same boat” as Pope Francis says and we are all brothers and sisters.
Our presence of solidarity, joy, kindness and commitment to human dignity, like that of Br. Charles de Foucauld, is the first step in evangelization. It is “shouting the Gospel with our life,” as he himself told us. We firmly believe in the evangelizing power of personal and community witness. His canonization last May confirms us in this way of proclaiming the Gospel and impels us to share our charism with other priests in different dioceses and countries of America where our Priestly Fraternity is not yet present.
The frequency with which Pope Francis mentions Br. Charles in his official documents, in his speeches and homilies shows us that his witness is a richness and an inspiration for the evangelizing mission of the Church today, in the post-pandemic world wounded by hunger, violence, inequalities. and secularism. We feel the historical responsibility to be more faithful to our charism and to cultivate it more intensely with the means proper to our spirituality: adoration and the Eucharist, the review of life, the day of desert, fraternal life and closeness to the poor.
Our evangelizing and solidary work among the most abandoned and despised wants to be a parable of a fraternal world, a seed of the Kingdom inaugurated by Jesus of Nazareth and a prophetic denunciation of social sin. Our mission, animated by the Holy Spirit, is aimed at forging fraternity in today’s world as Pope Francis teaches us in Fratelli Tutti.
We thank God that in this Assembly we had experience of this fraternity, lived in respectful dialogue, joy and the search for new paths for our evangelizing action. We are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of our fraternities in America, especially the aging of many of them, but we value and want to be inspired by the witness of fidelity of our older brothers. We thank them for the long years they have persevered trying to build “a poor Church and for the poor” as Pope Francis said at the beginning of his pontificate, suffering, many times, incomprehension, marginalization and discredit.
We want to continue strengthening our continental communion through the exchange of missionary experiences, the formation of a Pan American Team to animate our fraternities and the realization of the first Pan-American Month of Nazareth. This will take place in the Dominican Republic, from July 2 to 28, 2023.
Finally, we thank Fernando Tapia of Chile, his service as Continental Responsible for six years and offer our support and our prayer to our new Pan-American Responsible Carlos Roberto dos Santos of the Fraternity of Brazil.
We place our Fraternity under the protection of Mary, Our Lady of the Visitation.
Members of the Third Pan American Assembly
Córdoba, September 23, 2022
On October 3, 2020, the eve of the memory of Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis surprised the world with his Encyclical Letter entitled Fratelli Tutti – All Brothers. In it he called Christians and every person of good will to commit themselves, with an open heart, to a common ideal for which to build bonds of fraternity and social friendship. In his words, Pope Francis reminded us “how important it is to dream together! […] Alone, one runs the risk of having mirages, seeing what does not exist; dreams are built together” (Fratelli Tutti, n.8).
Read the full document in PDF: MISSION IN FRATELLI TUTTI. Willians Roque de BRITO eng
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” Lk 5,4
His canonisation in Rome on 15 May this year was a great experience for all who were privileged to witness this event. Again and again, it was said that for the spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld the canonisation is a great gift. But much more, his life and spiritual journey and his charism is a great gift – not only for the Spiritual Family, but for the whole Church. The gift of his charism has not been changed or increased by the canonisation but has been brought into the light and has been officially recognised by the Church.
We are convinced that belonging to our fraternity with its special characteristics can support the priestly ministry very well and form it in a valuable way. Some of us would perhaps no longer be priests if they had not met brothers of the priestly Fraternity Jesus Caritas.
SHARING OUR GIFT
From this conviction we want to take a new impetus to make our priestly Fraternity known, especially in places and countries where there are no fraternities.
We want to offer our Priestly Fraternity as a way of living our ministry accompanied by brothers, to remain in living contact with the Holy Scriptures as one of our most important sources for
spiritual growing, to develop the contemplative dimension of our lives through adoration and desert-days and finally not to lose closeness and service to the poor in a simple lifestyle.
Therefore, dear Brothers, we ask you to reflect intensely, alone and in community, on the possibilities you see for spreading the seed of the charism of our priestly Fraternity. Are there regions in our own country, are there neighbouring countries, where we could offer the charism of our priestly Fraternity?
IN COMMUNION WITH OUR SPIRITUAL FAMILY
At the origin of the formation of our priestly Fraternity were the Little Sisters and the Little Brothers. Their way of living the Gospel, which was so new at that time, fascinated many priests
very much. These priests did not want to become religious, but to remain in the ministry as diocesan priests, but they wanted to live something of the CdF charism. This is how the priestly Fraternity came into being in France in the 1950s, first called “Unio sacerdotalis”, later Jesus Caritas.
This observation of the origins can be significant for us today. For in order to have a starting point for the spread of the priestly Fraternity, the environment of the Little Sisters and Little Brothers is still one of the best milieus today. For “new plantings” it is therefore certainly a good advice to put out feelers in this direction.
In Rome, at the meeting of those responsible for the various branches of the Spiritual Family, we noticed something else: In many countries there are branches of the spiritual family, especially lay communities, but no fraternities of priests. Probably a point of contact could be found there to make our Fraternity known and invite some priests to participate in it and introducing them to “the spiritual means” we have.
HOW TO PROCEED?
Three aspects seem important to us:
1. the preparation phase:
Here the first question is: Do I, do we really have the conviction that it is good if someone gets to know the priestly Fraternity and joins it? Where this conviction is lacking, there is probably no reason to start with an initiative to spread the priestly Fraternity.
This conviction must be shared by some priests, because a “mission project” is not a matter for one person, but always for a small group.
Another important stage in the preparation is the search for contacts and points of contact. This is probably one of the most difficult tasks, to find a group of priests who are willing to commit
themselves to a few days with CdF. Finally, the preparation should also include prayer for a good outcome. We are convinced that especially older priests from our midst will be happy to take on this ministry.
2 The implementation phase
The most suitable way seems to us to organise a “WEEK WITH SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD”. In this week there should be two focal points: a) Presentation of the biography of CdF b)
Presentation of the priestly Fraternity with its means of spiritual growing .These days should be embedded in an atmosphere of prayer, fraternity, joy and service.
3. the follow-up phase
Just as every newly seeded plant needs care and nurture, so it is with a newly founded Fraternity. It needs accompaniment to be able to stand on its own feet. For this, integration into the national and continental level is important, but above all contact and exchange with experienced priests. The concrete form of this “mentoring” will be very different and depends on the respective circumstances and persons. It seems important to us to plan some form of accompaniment right from the beginning.
Dear brothers, we know that all attempts in this direction are not easy. But we think it is important and it seems to us that now is a good time to do it. So we urge you to talk about this and carry out some initiatives.
We especially ask the continental and national responsible brothers to make this letter a priority concern in your next assembly.
We also ask that you inform us of any steps you take in this direction. Perhaps we have ways to support you.
We wish you courage and confidence in your important ministry.
the international team
Eric, Honoré, Fernando, Tony and Matthias
Priestly Fraternity Retreat
Iesus Caritas of Spain
Galapagar, Madrid, August 2022
I What does the Directory say?
«It is, above all, in the Review of Life where fraternity exercises its function as a rule of life. There is much talk of Review of Life, but indicating different realities: different exchanges, Gospel studies, review of apostolic life. For us, in fraternity, the Review of Life is an act of common faith, in which we share events, concerns, hopes and disappointments, a common reading of life to discover in it the Lord’s calls (…)
The Life Review is, first of all, a contemplative look at the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And at the same time, it is the means of a permanent conversion that must also reach the best of each one, to be always available to the calls of the Lord, precisely there where they were not expected, where we had not seen or heard him until now. The Life Review helps us to discover the Lord who is always greater, always different and even disconcerting for us.
There is a unity of process between the Review of Life and the other means of the Fraternity. The Review of Life is preferably prepared in the desert, always in prayer and, if possible, in writing. It is better not to do it than to improvise it. It presupposes a climate of prayer, listening to the Word of God, attention to one another. There is no need to fear moments of silence. We must have the courage to question each other, delicately, but frankly, without fear of tensions and possible confrontations. False friendship is the death of true life reviews and therefore of fraternity.
Carrying out a Life Review implies a commitment from each one to carry out the calls received together. Each one must feel responsible and supportive of the others.
An authentic Life Review can introduce us to the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection at work in us. And, sometimes, it will lead us to the sacrament of reconciliation».
II To understand RL as a school of listening, discernment and fraternity
Along with adoration, it is the strong point of the Retreat.
Its objective is to help us have a contemplative vision of life, of reality. See life through the eyes of God.
It is not a mere fraternal or group meeting technique. Try to educate a contemplative heart.
It is, therefore, neither confession nor spiritual direction. no tool to understand or interpret.
1. A way to search for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, speaking with our brothers so that, based on the search, they can help us find the will of God. It is not asking for advice, but discerning together. The RL is prepared in adoration and silence
2. A way of reading the Gospel in the lives of men, and a way of reading the Gospel in the Church. Read in the facts, and in a group, the motions of the Spirit.
3. An encounter with Jesus today, a Jesus who lives in the realities of the world and men of today.
4. A question about my way of being and living, through what others live.
5. A fraternal participation in the life of the brothers.
How do you prepare?
He prepares himself in adoration and silence. A time of silence in which facts of life and adoration are mixed.
III Fraternal life and RL
In the Fraternity, the RL must also be to share the way in which the rereading of life brings us back to the intuitions of Charles de Foucauld and of the Fraternity: adoration, Gospel, concern for the poor, and being brothers, like Jesus.
* Its theological foundation is the biblical experience that the Lord is sharing with his people and those who form his own history, making the history of each one a history of salvation. That contemplative gaze will help us learn to see the double face of every situation. There is a first aspect that we see, and in the background a touch of God.
* In addition to being the material we look at contemplatively, it is the means of a permanent conversion. Whenever we go to RL, we go in an attitude of conversion, ready to see what part of us has to change, that of others, to help them read the way.
* Living RL together is living an enormous experience of God through the situations that we are presenting in RL: we are seeing God’s providence and his friendship.
* This is why it will sometimes provoke a thanksgiving. Others, a request for forgiveness, or a request for help to carry out what we see.
* Words are as important as silences. No hurry. There are interesting silences, of one or the group, to respect, to internalize, to ask for help, to let what we hear sink in. We must respect the rhythm that serious communication requires of us.