29 January 2024
29 Jan 2024

IV Latin American and Caribbean Congress of Religious Life

With more than 3,500 religious, the IV Latin American and Caribbean Congress of Religious Life began, organized by the CLAR - Latin American Confederation of Religious.

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At the headquarters of the University of the Salle in Bogotá, they received more than 400 participants from the Americas and, virtually, more than 3,000 people have connected to discern the culture of care based on seven “Cs” of a single option: Care, Creation, Compassion, Community, Contemplation, Communication, and Celebration. Religious Life has been added to this event from the United States and Canada. Sister Carol Zinn, Executive Secretary of the LCWR, Leadership Conference of Women Religious of the United States, expressed her closeness to the religion of Latin America and the Caribbean: “We feel great unity with you, and that makes us very happy at heart. ” She stressed that contemplation for “those of us in Consecrated Life touches our hearts a lot,” which is why when “the Pope speaks about Religious Life, he highlights that there must always be joy, because where there are religious, joy must prevail.” It is the joy of the service of the men and women of Alba, which helps to overcome obstacles during challenges and darkness, “trusting at the foot of the cross, and convinced that the Resurrection will come, life will win.”

Sister Liliana Franco, president of the CLAR – Latin American Confederation of Religious, thanked the more than 3,500 participants for “their physical and virtual presence” as “evidence of their choice for care.”

The joy of the Gospel, especially when “there are structures that suffocate.” Because we do not put people at the center, there is a heavy feeling of failure, which discourages us, and forms that do not shelter us and that take away our freedom and flexibility.

The art of care arises “by recognizing that the other exists and their life is important. The border in which it is possible to be willing to care is where egocentric attitudes end, self-referentiality and petty individualism end. Only there is self-exit and training possible. Every day in that art that overflows and plans.” For Sister Liliana “validates the existence of the other, recognizes his possibilities and shortcomings, shares his journey and his fate, suffers his pain, and celebrates the joy of it, knowing that we are converging in the same story and co-responsible for destiny, makes the natural option care as a way of existing.”

Therefore, consecrated persons have as their horizon the care of human dignity and the common good so that it “inspires, encourages and guides consecration,” which means “facing life with the heart of mercy”. “Compassion cannot be an appendage resulting from sensitivity; it must be the consequence of choices. Of our choice to follow Jesus and work for the Kingdom,” she said.

Teresa, Mexican, of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word since 1994, she has extensive ministerial experience in the area of education. She addressed the topic “Community in its relational dimension, posing the question: “What do we have to attend to enable the art of being? Sisters and brothers?” She has served as a teacher, history professor, and administrator. She has a passion for training leaders for Hispanic ministry in the USA. She served on the General Congregation Leadership Team and was elected Congregational Coordinator in 2014. She served in the US Leadership Conference of Women Religious as president from 2016 to 2019.

Breaking records. Thus, she has described the reality of religious men and women: global warming, social problems, violence, migrations, refuge, and wars. “And if we are honest, we get along asking the question: “Will it be the end of the world?” The Mexican nun says that “doubts assail us.” For this reason, she brought up the image of the Colossus, the work of the Spanish Francisco de Goya, because in this painting “It is humanity that flees in fear.” Incidentally, she cited the Gospel text of Mark 4:40, used by Pope Francis in his Urbi et orbi prayer on March 27, 2020: “Why are you afraid? Not yet. Do you have faith?”

He stated: “As consecrated life, it is important to ask ourselves this question: “What is your history with fear?”, for example, when “migrants arrive at our borders and “how do we offer an architecture of care in the face of this structure of fear?” Recognizing that “some brothers and sisters are afraid of the future,” she insisted that it is appropriate there to “put into practice the art of the culture of care”;

For this reason, “the call to be artisans of care implies losing fear. “The word of God resonates in our times as a command, not a recommendation.”

Teresa Maya said, “One of the most important gifts that we are offering to the synodal process is the decades of collaboration in our apostolates with the laity.”

Teresa Maya’s second intervention. “Contemplation we have “We have to combine it with the search for  meaning.” Thus she began her dissertation: “Caring for the gift received: The vocation, a gift of meaning.” “Consecrated life needs an examination of conscience regarding its spiritual life,” which implies reviewing “our motivations” to test our true beliefs as religious men and women in the face of the current crisis of faith and the decline in vocations.

As Dehonians, we are also invited to review and revisit our oblative union with Jesus, our community life, and our communication style, to be men with compassionate hearts and communicators of the Love of God in today our Humanity.

Manifesto in English.


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