Meeting of the Animation Offices of Spain and Portugal (CONFRES)

Portugal December 4-5, 2023

06 December 2023

From December 4 to 5, 2023, in the fraternity of Montariol, situated in the city of Braga, Portugal, a meeting of the offices of animation from the four Provinces that make up the (CONFRES) Conference took place. It was organized by the Secretary General for Missions & Evangelization, the Secretary General for Formation & Studies, and the animators of the JPIC offices, in collaboration with the President of the Conference of Spain and Portugal, Br. Joaquín Zurera, and the responsible Definitor General, Br. Cesare Vaiani. 

After breakfast and morning prayer on day one, Br. Joaquín thanked the fraternity for welcoming the brothers of the General Curia. Br. Francisco Gómez, Secretary for Missions & Evangelization, presented the goal of the meeting, namely, to listen to one another as a way to foster collaboration among the different animation offices of the Provinces and the Conference.

Br. Daniel Rodríguez Blanco, JPIC General Director, spoke about the importance of collaborative work which is done among these groups of the Order. He presented the state of the “Franciscan Net” of the Americas and the Mediterranean, discussed programs of integral ecology, and shared about the important activities coming up in the next few years.

Afterwards, Br. Darko Tepert, Secretary General for Formation & Studies, shared his goals for the upcoming six years, including plans that will unfold alongside the Franciscan centennial celebrations. He also made the brothers aware of the Lay Brother Congress scheduled to take place in 2025 and the gathering of the simply Professed European Brothers in 2024.

Br. Francisco Gómez concluded the session explaining how the Ratio evangelizationis will be elaborated upon to include “New Forms” of presence and evangelization, both in Europe and Latin America. He also took the opportunity to speak about the challenges that Franciscan parishes and sanctuaries have with regard to evangelization. He made reference to an online course for Evangelization in Europe, offered last November, which included the three branches of the First Order.  

In the afternoon, the Secretary General for Missions & Evangelization, the Secretary General for Formation & Studies, and the animators of the JPIC offices from the three Spanish Provinces and the Portuguese Province shared the activities they’ve been involved in. They spoke about the challenges and opportunities that arise in their ministry.

Br. Joaquín and Br. Cesare ended the meeting with a summary of what they saw during the day. They also emphasized the importance of this conference to work in collaboration with the Conference of Italy & Albany (COMPI).

At 7pm, Br. Fernando Mota, Provincial Minister of the Portuguese Province, presided at Eucharist, during which time he thanked God and the brothers for the precious work that took place that day.

The second day of the conference began with Eucharist and Morning Prayer presided over by Br. Gonçalo Figueredo, Secretary for Formation & Studies of Portugal. The morning continued with conversation done in small groups, formed to determine concrete steps of collaboration among the animators that need to take place. After that session, proposals for the Conference of Provincial Ministers were agreed upon. 

The gathering concluded with words of gratitude and a hearty lunch.

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