PCO Chronicles: Days 4 & 5 (16-17/6/2018)

PCO Chronicles, Saturday, 16 June

A new work session began in the best possible way after morning prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist. After breakfast, the friars of the Conference of Africa reported on the diverse and extensive reality in which they live and work. Franciscan provinces that stretch out over eight countries, the complexity in the richness of the diversity of ethnicities, languages ​​and dialects, different socio-political and economic realities … All of these present a face of African Franciscanism so diverse that it captured the attention of all those present in the Assembly. One of the statements that provoked most curiosity and questions was the statement “We must form a solid and suitable character before pretending that those who join us can take on and personalize Franciscan gospel values”. Hard timesmake demands on people, paraphrasing Saint Teresa of Jesus referring to the Franciscan Saint Peter of Alcántara.

After a pause, it was the turn of the “Brazilian” Conference. As with the previous Conference, we were again presented with a vast area, a very diverse and enormous population to care for and a social reality in which social injustice and the maldistribution of wealth are present. A brief but interesting report on “The Amazon Project” followed by questions concluded this session.

After a break, the Assembly had a lengthy period to discuss what was heard from all of the Conferences of the Order – there is never enough time when what we have heard touches everyone so much. We were able to see how, in spite of the diversity within the “universal fraternity” of our Order, there are common denominators in the “challenges” and in the “environmental profile” that can be analysed to help us know where and how to take new paths, or abandon others not so new. These include: secularization, young people that are disoriented and disconnected from social reality, family crisis, decrease in birth rate, crisis of the economy and excessive exploitation of natural assets, destruction of the environment, … The words of Pope Francis from “Laudato Sii” were present throughout the morning. From this exhaustive analysis, the proactive work of the next two weeks can begin with confidence.

After lunch, the rest of the afternoon was set aside for rest, personal reflection and prayer, until 7:00 p.m., when we gathered again for evening prayer, dinner and a time of fraternity and much-needed recreation.

PCO Chronicles, Sunday, 17 June

Sunday, the Lord’s day. A day to celebrate the centrality of His presence among us, supporting us and challenging us each day. Most of the friars working in the CPO were sent out to different parishes of Nairobi to share the celebration of the Eucharist with the people who have welcomed us to their land. When we returned, we all expressed amazement and joy at having participated in a liturgy that was lively, joyful and filled with God’s beauty, expressed by the faithful with unique song and dance.

At 3:00 p.m., a good number of the friars spent a couple of hours visiting a natural giraffe park. An impressive experience to be able to see and even touch such huge and beautiful animals up close. Shortly after 7:00 p.m. we shared dinner and a time of relaxation in front of the television, enjoying the excitement of sport.

More stories at: ofm.org/cpo2018