COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. — Friars from North America and Europe involved in the ministry of initial formation gathered at the Franciscan Retreat Center for a special congress from Aug. 5 to 10. This was one of a series of “continental congresses” mandated by the last general chapter of the Order in 2009 to assess the state of initial formation throughout the Order.
The event was organized by Fr. Vidal Rodriguez, OFM, General Secretary of Formation and Studies; his assistant, Sergiusz Baldyga, OFM; and HNP Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, who serves as coordinator of the secretaries of the formation of the English-speaking Conference. Over the past two years, congresses were held in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Western Europe; the final congress will be for the provinces of Eastern Europe next month.
The purpose of these congresses is to allow formators to assess how their programs are accomplishing the Order’s goals for initial formation. Each province in the English-speaking Conference was asked to send two delegates — its director of post-novitiate formation and either its vocation director or postulant director — so Thomas Conway, OFM, and Ronald Pecci, OFM, represented Holy Name Province. In addition, Jeffery Jordan, OFM,attended the congress, assisting with secretarial work and logistics.
Several speakers presented talks in order to stimulate discussion: Br. William Short, OFM, spoke on formation to the evangelical counsels; Dominic, on Franciscan formation and formation to the priesthood; and James Sabak,OFM, on formation to the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church.
“Participants seemed genuinely pleased about the opportunity to gather and share their experiences with this important ministry,” Dominic said. “I was on pins and needles as to whether this event would actually happen, as the retreat house had to be evacuated due to the wildfires that devastated much of the Colorado Springs area in July, but luckily Mount St. Francis was spared.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the participants took a break from their work to enjoy the Colorado Springs area. “Fr. Robert Bruno, OFM, head chaplain at the Air Force Academy, graciously organized an impressive tour of that beautiful campus for the participants,” said Dominic.
“A group of Dominican postulants was on retreat at the same time the congress was being held, which allowed us to jointly celebrate the feast of St. Dominic on Aug. 8,” he added.
Photos of the event are posted on the Order’s website.