Oct 26, 2022
Join our Latin American Associate Leadership Team as they reflect together on the call to live as sisters and brothers across the Americas. Working as a team, they foster conditions for living in the spirit of Saint Francis, weaving unity in diversity—this is Good News!
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/pcnNdwxhONU
From Arlen, Veronica and Camilo’s interview:
Arlen shares: “Our main function is always to be aware of the community, and of each associate that belongs to the community. In Nicaragua we are 2 groups: one is in Managua and another is in San Diego. Although there is a long distance between these two locations, we try to always be aware of the realities of each associate, their spiritual and material needs. … We contribute in creating spaces for communication and formation in the Franciscan charism and spirituality. I think that is the richness of our functions.”
Camilo states: “It is interesting to be part of this Team, knowing that, unlike Arlen and Vero, at this moment from Colombia I am the only one in the association relationship. It has been an opportunity to meet and learn about faith and culture in the three Americas: North America, Central America, and South America. That is beautiful. We have to think about the language, about the appropriate words according to each country, in order to meet and share.”
Veronica notes: “The Franciscan charism is expressed through people who serve in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in ecclesial parishes in different places, in ministries of the Word and the Eucharist, etc. And, day by day, I see that Franciscan spirituality also has an impact in our families, to which we all belong. In this way I have seen how the community continues to grow.”
Veronica: “A year ago, was when we officially started putting our ideas together -Arlen, Camilo, Verónica- to see how to serve the Spanish-speaking associates. A dynamic of deep reflection was generated among the 3 of us. … In addition to promoting Franciscan values in Zoom teachings and circles, we put them into practice frequently. … We think about who will be in that meeting, when and what time suits better for them. And so, thinking of that specific group, we have connected. The value of Minority has been one of the bases that move our community meetings. Then we are always evaluating as a team: what is it that God did and what can we improve? We live an experience of community life where we get to know each other and discern the next call for service.”
Camilo: “I have learned to work more as a team by being part of this team. For example, something as simple as understanding that situations can arise when planning a meeting, when we can or cannot connect, and that we can overcome it together. We have learned that preparing for the unforeseen is wonderful. For example, if we cannot meet together, we can meet asynchronously through chat; it does not obstruct the work and we have achieved a very rich experience. In addition to the minority that Vero mentioned, I have learned in practice to live the simplicity that characterizes Franciscan spirituality and its great power, to think of simple exercises that can include many and foster beautiful and powerful reflections.”
Arlen: “Franciscanism is a way of life; when it takes root in your heart it is already very difficult to turn back or get out of the way because it is so valuable, it has so much wealth. I think that in the community we see each other as a family, I see another associate as a brother, as a sister, as a mother, as an uncle... because that trust is being formed, it is being strengthened day by day. I believe that when Franciscan values strengthen the community, then the community expands as well. Saint Francis said, we try to lead by example, with what we do for others and the way in which we live. This calls other people who are around us, because we have this lifestyle and they are always curious, asking who the associates are and what do they do, what is the path to become an associate? I think that this is where the Franciscan values lie.”
Camilo: “There are two things that resonate with me when considering our call: the first is in the short term and has to do with embodying or concretizing the Franciscan values in our daily life. Always in our meetings … we ask ourselves and it always moves us: today concretely, how does conversion, minority, become a reality, how do poverty, contemplation and joy become a reality, where I am? I think this is a question that we must constantly ask ourselves. I believe that Franciscan spirituality challenges us to always ask ourselves that question as a community, too, and with all the people among whom we share.
The second call that I see also has to do with our being together; it is to continue connecting beyond the borders that our countries draw, the borders drawn by languages, and even our religions. It is incredible the diversity among us and the enormous efforts that the sisters and associates are making to connect, learning to use zoom and various other technological means, learning how to communicate when some speak Spanish and others speak English, experimenting with how to build that bridge¡ That has made us connect and share courageously.”
Veronica: “Our Franciscan community is no longer located just in Minnesota. Its GLOBAL character is a feature of its own. We are very different people, from different generations, who live in different contexts. But the interesting thing is that we respond to a powerful call: to live against the current of the societies we inhabit and bring hope there, where there is despair, we live in simplicity, dispossession, forgiveness, unity in the midst of those very strong voices that tell us to “consume more”, where there is war, division. I think that Franciscan Spirituality, as a lifestyle, becomes a reality with the simple examples that we learn from our brothers and sisters: we learn to live with detachment, with solidarity, in the midst of God's creation that calls us to be ONE.”
Camilo: “I believe that our world often lacks joy, the ability to smile day by day and … feel loved, recognizing ourselves loved in our day to day. I think that particularly from what I have experienced in this relationship and the relationships that have been woven, it has been that ability to smile, that ability to live with joy, but it also depends on feeling deeply loved and how beautiful that these experiences that we are weaving can be shared and communicated to other people, in other contexts, and that they can feel that goodness and that power of the good news of love, of the joy that Saint Francis has taught us and that is the love of that God who loves us so much and so much he wants the good for all. I believe that we are weaving paths for other people, beyond whether they want to be linked as associates or not, they can share it. That is the beauty, sharing this charism.”
For a full transcript, please include episode number and email: email@example.com.
Franciscan Associates: There are many forms of Associates, Cojourners, Companions, Affiliates who are in intentional relationships with religious communities and congregations. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, MN who sponsor this podcast, have Associate and Sister relationships that span the Americas, speaking English and Spanish. Here is a brief introduction: https://www.fslf.org/pages/franciscan-associates
Saint Francis hearing the call to rebuild the church: to read the story, see Legend of the Three Companions 5:13: The Legend of the Three Companions: FA:ED, vol. 2, p. 76 (franciscantradition.org)
Engaging Franciscan Spirituality, “Involucrándonos con la Sabiduría Franciscana”: a program for growth in Franciscan life. This program is in transition with staff transitions at the Franciscan Programs Ministry. It has equipped four cohorts of men and women to strengthen their spiritual journeys in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare.