(Santander, Colombia) – The first Assembly and General Visitation to discuss the restructuring in the Congregation was held in the Province of Bogotá, from 12 to 16 February 2018, in Piedecuesta, Santander.
We were eighty-four in number for the Assembly: a bishop, 57 priests, 5 brothers, 12 novices, five seminarians and 9 aspirants who helped with the logistics but did not attend the meetings. Of the 57 priests, 50 were Colombians, 6 Venezuelans and a Vietnamese (Extra Patriam).
The program was the following, Monday: the message of the General Chapter and the action plan of the Government; Tuesday: Retreat on the theme of the six-year term: “witnesses of the Redeemer, in Solidarity for the Mission in a Wounded World”; Wednesday: decisions of the General Chapter; Thursday: building the future, the apostolic plan and the restructuring; Friday: decisions of the third phase of the General Chapter of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The atmosphere was very fraternal, as the participants pointed out during the assembly and in the evaluation. The presence of Superior General Fr. Michael Brehl and of the General Consultor Fr. Pedro López drew attention to their closeness, the attitude of listening, simplicity and encouragement in the direction of the assembly. Some of the confreres of the Casa Mantilla, from the home for the sick and elderly, some with physical limitations, but with a clearly lucid mind and interested in the subject discussed, were also present for the Assembly. This was a motivation and a testimony for the young generations.
The conferences were very short, no more than 40 minutes, then; there was work in groups with well-formulated questions, followed by plenary sessions. The members of the general government were very attentive to the topics and questions that were raised and discussed; they have noted them in writing in an attitude of openness, aware that the restructuring of the Congregation is not the work of the General Government but of all of us who conform the Redemptorist Community.
Every day the Eucharist was celebrated and there were other moments of prayer. The liturgy was distributed among the regions.
Services rendered, verbalists: Jesús Ortiz and Oscar Martínez; moderators: Alexánder Nieves and Jairo Díaz; Sport: Adrian Ernesto Rojas and Orlando Téllez.
In Piedecuesta there are three neighbouring houses, each of which works independently: the minor seminary of San Alfonso, the novitiate and the house of Mantilla. The three houses were utilized for the Assembly; the members of the same have welcomed all the participants with great care and warmth of fraternity.
Leiner of Jesús Castaño García
Pbro. Redemptorist missionary