Father Max Eduardo Reyes, CM Province of Ecuador offers this report on the FRATERNAL MEETING OF THE PROVINCE OF ECUADOR

On September 11, the Feast of John Gabriel Perboyre, began, as planned, the fraternal encounter of the missionaries of the Province of Ecuador in the House of Prayer “Sagrados Corazones” in Conocoto, some 12 km from Quito. Fathers Javier Álvarez, Vicar General, and Aarón Gutiérrez, Assistant General, facilitated this encounter. The encounter took place in the context of the celebration of the 400 years of our Charism, which calls us to live according to the identity of our vocation to the Congregation. We spent the time as follows:

We began Monday morning with the reception and organization of the participants. Thanks be to God, all the members of the Province were present except for one or two who were not able to come for some serious reason.

In the afternoon, after a brief presentation of the work and method of the week, Fr. Javier made it clear that this was not a Provincial Assembly, but rather an “Encounter of reflection and of dialogue” in order to arrive at some conclusions focused on the growth of the Province. He declared that these fathers from the General Curia do not come as redeemers. What the team desires is to offer a profound reflection in order to come to commitments, both personal and communal, trying to be positive as opposed to focusing on the problems. A dialogue that is sincere, clear and with a spirit of charity, will be the axis running through the entire encounter trying to seek among us all the will of God. The dialogue assumes that we listen to one another, leaving behind the prejudices.

Tuesday we reflected on the necessity of working by means of projects that assume the new culture of planning and evaluation. “The project of the General Curia” (Fr. Javier Álvarez) and “The Projects: Provincial, of the Community, and Personal” (Fr. Aarón Gutiérrez). It is urgent that we revise our mission in order to establish the means that aid us to live in an effective and efficient manner. A project always looks toward the future, with an attitude of continual renewal, as the Constitutions and Statutes of the Congregation point out. Each one of the projects: provincial, of the community, and personal, has to base itself in the General Project of the CM, which always is rooted in the urgency to respond today to the Charism of St. Vincent. They also have to take into account and apply the Constitutions, Statutes and Provincial Norms. All projects need to be elaborated in prayer, with a profound and sincere reflection and in an attitude of discernment. These projects serve to help us to build our brotherhood as we fulfill our Mission.

The next day, Fr. Aarón facilitated the work with the theme of common life: “Unity and Communion”, “Transparency” and “Accountability”. At the end of the day, we reviewed the “Indispensable Aspects of Life in Common”. Fr. Aarón told us that: “the common life comes from God (The Trinity)”. A true Christian community is the representation of the Trinity. If we lose the common life, the Mission is affected at its very core. For this reason, it is necessary to strengthen our common life, because this common life will help us to grow and to come out of the crisis….The spirit of faith, of hope and of charity need to be the basis of the restoration of the Province….”. We have to have much hope. This will be noted in “new shoots” which will give “a new face” to the Congregation.

Fr. Aarón said that St. Vincent de Paul committed himself to a better service of the poor in both the spiritual and corporal aspects. This commitment must never be absent among us if we want the renewal to maintain its fidelity to the charism. The growth of the community depends on the growth of the persons. In the Common Life, both the communal and the personal aspects are fed by the communion of life in and with Christ. Activism and individualism destroy the life of the community, since they separate us from the common mission. This is the moment to realize that the common life isn ́t about being together, but about being united as brothers in Christ.

On Thursday, Fr. Javier helped us to reflect about the need to “Form Formators”, and about the importance to take up again with new fervor the ministry of vocation promotion. He gave us statistics and examples of what is happening in the diverse provinces of the CM. In the afternoon, we spoke of how to support the “Stages of Initial Formation” with the urgency to learn to think as a Congregation that is international, intercultural and interprovincial. The project of the CM today is to pursue this goal, founding internal seminaries and theologates that are interprovincial.

We dedicated the last morning, Friday, in coming up with elements in order to elaborate a “Plan of growth for the Province of Ecuador” and plan that elaborates “the support of the Assistant overseeing this Province”. We were invited to dream a new Province, with the responsibility and commitment of all. This will be possible if we love our Congregation and if we believe the affirmation of St. Vincent: “Love is inventive to infinity”.

From the perspective of this awareness we need to “Revise the works”, “Revitalize the forms of the mission”, “Reconstruct the ministry of vocation promotion and reconstruct the Formation, both initial and ongoing”; “Commit ourselves more profoundly to the promotion and formation of the lay Vincentians”. We are not to stay at the level giving financial aid but to also struggle in favor of justice and the promotion of the poor.

The persons and local communities have to avoid the attitude of remaining indifferent to the Provincial Institutions. We are called to maintain a “proactive” attitude to help us to move beyond the individualisms and the focus on the local community. If the individuals and the local communities are not in favor of the Institution, they lose and we all lose.

On September 15, the memorial of our Lady of Sorrows, with a solemn Eucharist and much hope for better days, the fraternal encounter ended.

Father Max Eduardo Reyes, CM Province of Ecuador