Leaders from the Salvatorian administrative units of North and South America have gathered at the Nueva Aurora retreat house in the outskirts of Medellin, Colombia for their first ever Continental Leadership Meeting. They are joined by the members of the Generalate. The retreat house located in Sabaneta, is the scene of deep reflection and significant dialogue among the 24 participants over the course of eight intensive days. They are being aided by simultaneous translation primarily in Spanish and English along with Portuguese as needed.
Called to be Apostles in a Changing World
Salvatorian Continental Leadership Meeting
AMERICAS (Medellin, Colombia) – August/2014
General Objective: To promote the reflection and discussion in a concrete way on Salvatorian Identity, Mission and Formation in the respective continental contexts, in order to help the local leadership develop ideas and point them in the direction to achieve concrete decisions as well as to reflect on other issues raised during the XVIII General Chapter 2012.
Today on the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary, Fr. Milton led the participants in a morning of recollection reflecting on the role of St. John the Baptist as a model of Salvatorian identity. In particular a Salvatorian, like the Baptist, is a witness, a “voice of one crying in the desert,” who points to Jesus the Galilean as the “Lamb of God.” In other words, “…our identity [is] to make known in all situations, on all occasions that, in Jesus Christ, God came to save everyone without excluding anyone.” In the afternoon sessions, Fr. Agustín Van Baelen, related this notion to the Founder’s call and the expansion of the Salvatorian Mission throughout the world.
The participants gathered in Colombia spent the day considering the issues related to financing the Salvatorian mission, particularly in the expansion units and the need for restructuring. In terms of the latter, the unit superiors of Brazil, Colombia, United States, and Venezuela gave a brief statement about how they see restructuring and the participants engaged in a lively discussion as to what this may imply in terms of governance, international cooperation, and exchange of personnel. The participants expressed strongly the need for attention to the structures related to initial formation specifically.
The participants at the Continental Meeting of the Americas enjoyed a relaxing day today. After celebrating the Eucharist and having a good breakfast, they went by bus to the colonial city of Santa Fe de Antioquia, founded in the 1500s and former capital of the Department of Antioquia. There they enjoyed swimming and a poolside lunch before touring the historical center of the city and then returning to Sabaneta in the late afternoon.
The Continental Meeting for the Americas reached the halfway point today as the participants engaged the topic of Salvatorian Formation. After an introduction to the processes of the day by Fr. Raúl Gómez, the participants worked in groups to identify the outlines of what a unified initial formation program would look like in the Americas.
This day was filled with a variety of topics from ongoing formation to working with lay professionals to the Salvatorian Family and to information on the Veneration and Beatification of the Founder. Presenters included Fr. Raúl Gómez, Dr. Arnout Mertens, Fr. Thomas Malal and Fr. Milton Zonta, respectively. The participants were also pleased to have as guests, members of the Lay Salvatorians and Salvatorian Sisters from the Medellin area who joined them for the last session of the day. The day ended with Adoration and a festive supper as the Salvatorian Family.
The participants in the Continental Meeting dealt with the topic of vocations today. They focused in particular on the vocation of the religious Brother and affirmed that this vocation is essential to what it means to be a Salvatorian. In addition, the participants provided input on a potential foundation in Peru and a potential joint initial formation program in the Americas.
On this feast day of St. Agustine, the Continental Meeting of the Americas ended with information from Fr. Chris Kowalczyk on the new website, new SDS email system, and the World Youth Day plans being finalized by our Polish confreres. Fr. Agustin Van Baelen also encouraged them to develop materials and events for the Salvatorain Missionary Year in 2015 and to share them with the other units by means of the SDS website. Furthermore, we were honored to have Bp. Tulio Duque SDS, emeritus bishop of Pereira, as the presider at the closing Eucharist. At the lunch following this Fr. Milton presented the Sisters and staff of the Nueva Aurora Retreat house with a gift in gratitude for their warm welcome and enthusiastic service to us. The evaluation of the meeting by the participants was by and large very positive.