The 6th edition of the Fondacio Congress has opened in mid-January. For the first time, it will take place in three phases. The first one will begin at the end of February with continental meetings held until June, to reflect on the future challenges. The election of the President will take place in March 2023, before a meeting in Africa in May 2023.
What is the Congress ?
The Congress is held every five years. It is the highest governing body of Fondacio. It defines the orientations for the years to come and oversees the election of the association's leaders. “It is something that concerns us all”, says Yvonne Altorfer, the Fondacio Council member in charge of preparing and animating the Congress. The Fondacio Council is made up of a dozen members with representatives from all continents. They have a 5-year mandate.
The last Congress took place in the Philippines in 2018. It anchored Fondacio's purpose and vocation to work for a more human, fair and ecological world. Two years later, this newfound enthusiasm collided with the Covid-19 health crisis, limiting actions and meetings. The digital transformation prompted the association to reinvent itself. The Fondacio Council integrated these new practices.
What is the Congress about ?
The Congress will take place in three phases. The first one will be held on the four continents, from February to June 2022. Lomé, Togo, will be the start of the phase 1, from 26 February to 1March. Then, in Bogota, Colombia, from 2 to 6 April; in Versailles, France, from 24 to 27 May; and in Asia from 18 to 22 June.
During this first phase, several meetings (live and online) will take place on each continent to launch the synodal process - 'synodal' meaning 'walking together'. "The Congress is a collaborative process", says Yvonne Altorfer. "It is also a spiritual journey, of listening to the signs of time and to the Holy Spirit. It is a moment of unity and a time to ratify fundamental reference texts.”
Then, the second phase, that of the election of the President, will take place from October 2022 to March 2023. The third, all the delegates will meet in May 2023, in Africa.
4 themes for reflection
Four major themes for reflection are identified:
- How to proclaim the Good News today and be bearers of hope?
- How to remain audible and credible among young people?
- How can we better respond to the challenges of integral ecology : ecological transition and social justice?
- How can we be an international movement that develops leaders for the future ?
4 forums in four continents
These themes will be discussed during forums organised on each continent:
- 26 and 27 February in Togo: "Social entrepreneurship and professional integration of young people". Present in 10 countries in Africa, Fondacio has been working the fields of education and agricultural entrepreneurship for many years, with a lot of impact.
- On 2 and 3 April in Colombia: "Engaging young people in integral ecology and social justice". Two thirds of Latin Americans are poor and/or live in difficult situations. They suffer from political problems and social injustice. The aim is to work together to build a more human and just world.
- 24 May in France: “Laudato Si”. 70 to 80 people from Romania, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom are expected in Versailles to discuss three main themes together : integral ecology, ecumenism and young people.
- 18-19 June in Asia: "Social Justice for young people". In Asia, Fondacio is present in 4 countries (Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam) but has a network of young people in 17 countries. Fondacio sees that young people receive a good education so that they lead the way in implementing social justice in their countries.
A college of 100 delegates
The work of discernment will be carried out by a college of one hundred delegates. The leaders (of countries, continents or projects) are participants by right. They represent half of the college. The other half is made up of people chosen by the countries, according to their commitment and desire to contribute to the global leadership of Fondacio. They must be appointed before the launching of the first phase.
The next mandate
The list of persons available to be elected President of Fondacio, to succeed François Prouteau, will be known in October 2022. The principle is as follows: each country must send three names out of a list of 43 eligible persons to the GAD (the Discernment Helping Group). The GAD will accompany the discernment of 5 to 9 persons from that list. In October, the list of the persons available to be elected will be presented. The election will then take place on 4 and 5 March 2023, online.
Live meeting of Fondacio in Africa
The Congress to launch the new mandate will be held in Africa from 29 April to 7 May 2023. It should be a live meeting, with access to key moments online. François Prouteau will open the Congress. The college of delegates will validate the orientations and texts discussed during the synodal process. A review of the outgoing mandate will be held before aproving the main orientations of Fondacio for the years to come. After a ratification vote, François Prouteau will pass the responsibility on to the new Council.
“How will our charism respond to the challenges of today's world?”
François Prouteau says :
“Many of us have had the experience of a Congress. I hope that for many of us it is also new. It is new for all of us anyway, because even if we have been to one before, every Congress is new. So we are all here to welcome the newness.
Welcoming the newness is first of all, in a Congress, welcoming the Holy Spirit, who is always new. The Holy Spirit always speaks to us in a unique world context: the signs of times. What are they today? How will our charism respond to the challenges of today's world? To the challenges of today's societies?
We know that there is a lot of hope today, and at the same time there are many, many crises. Many politicians, many religious figures or men and women of culture are anxious about the state of the world today.
The New Year's period has been a testimony to that. I received greeting cards that said "Courage!", "Courage Fondacio for this new year! Courage for this new congress, to respond together, with others, to the challenges of the world.
Yes, crises exist, but we all have the same desire to build a desirable world.
So we are going to be, in relation to this congress, full of hope. The Hope that our Christian faith, our spiritual life, gives us to build a more human, more just, more ecological and more fraternal world.
The second challenge of a Congress is to review the past years, to take a look at the orientations to ensure that Fondacio is always renewed, in the freshness of its charism. And this involves the election of a President and a Council and also a renewal of our way of leading Fondacio, with work on the leadership and governance of Fondacio.
Finally, we are going to work specifically on themes for this Congress. The aim is to refresh our charism, to respond to the challenges of today's world and to continue to build Fondacio together. The Fondacio charism is not just confined to a few, it is in the whole community and a Congress is always a special occasion to show that the charism is among us, it is given to each one of us, to build and move forward.”