The first phase of the Fondacio Congress in Latin America ended last Friday, 8 April 2022, in Colombia. It opened with a forum about the future of young people and integral ecology, at the Javeriana University in Bogotá. Then, Chilean and Colombian delegates of Fondacio reviewed the past four years since the last Congress to help define the new orientations for the next mandate.
"This forum is a time of collective thinking about the two challenges that represent young people and integral ecology", introduced Olga Lucia Benavides, head of Fondacio in Colombia. It launched the first phase of the Fondacio Congress in Latin America on Saturday 2 April, at the Javeriana University, in Bogotá.
"Our goal today is to listen to the difficulties of a country and a continent, to feel and understand them. We have to act in response, in order to build a more human and just world.” Students, employees, businessmen and unemployed people took part to the forum. "We managed to bring together people from very different backgrounds. There lies the value of what we are going to build together this morning.”
“Build the future together”
In Raùl Troncoso’s opinion, president of the Institut de formation Fondacio in Latin America (IFF América), "this forum invites us to “raise our gaze” and also look into the depths of our beings. It invites us to expand our personal and collective consciousness, putting aside our habits and biases. Every system, person, family or business experiment a time in their life when they must change their approach and be creative in order to build the future together.”
Before the forum, a virtual preparatory meeting took place on Wednesday 30 March. Diana Bodoya, general director of IFF América, in Chile, shared the results of the discussions on Saturday morning.
Future of youth
Andrea Escobar, executive director of SoyDoy, an association working for food security in Colombia, led a working group of 35 on youth. "It's hard to summarise an hour and a half of anecdotes and life stories", she said, before adding: "Very positive things emerged. We talked about the deep desire young people feel to be respected and at peace. They also shared their fear of failure and of conflict with their families.”
For Andrea Escobar, "they are powerful in their desire to change our world. They want to follow their intuition. They feel the need to believe in themselves. Our duty, as associations, is to understand where they want to go and help them. The new generations want more justice, understanding and support. We must adjust, evolve and listen to them".
Future of planet Earth
At the same time, Santiago Arango, theology teacher at the Javeriana University, led a workshop on integral ecology. "There is an urgent need in changing paradigm, in moving from anthropocentrism to biocentrism. Yes, the human species is different from other species on earth. We have a complex nervous system that allows us to discern, reflect, think... but it does not make us superior!"
"We live together with other species. This living together is crucial to maintain our ecosystem. What is at stake here is not Earth, which is programmed to revolve around the sun for many years to come : it is life on Earth itself.” Santigao Arango added: "This problem concerns all of us. We have to change our habits, especially our way of consuming. We pollute every single day... It is urgent to find a way to reduce pollution.”
Colombia is "the second most biodiverse country in the world. Unfortunately, we don't take this seriously enough," the professor said. "We need more training and education. All of us, Christians, believers, if we realise that what exists on earth is God's creation, then we recognise our duty to protect it. For when someone gives us something with love, we cherish it.”
Word of participants
Listen to the signs of time
After the forum, Chilean and Colombian delegates and several members of the Fondacio Council worked in groups. They reviewed the past four years since the last Congress, which was held in 2018 in the Philippines. This will help define the new orientations for the next mandate, which will start in 2023.
Phase 1 of the Congress in Latin America ended last Friday, 8 April 2022, with two days of immersion in the field for the delegates, with Oasis and YLDC Potosi.
The Congress is the highest governing body of Fondacio. It is held every five years. "It is 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”, emphasizes Yvonne Altorfer, the Fondacio Council member in charge of preparing and animating the Congress.
For the first time, it is taking place in three phases. The first one will be held on the four continents until June. After Lomé and Bogotá, it will take place in Versailles, France, from 24 to 27 May, and in Asia, from 18 to 22 June. 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. There, the main orientations for the years to come and the texts discussed during the synodal process will be reviewed and approved.