You are currently viewing Phase 1 of the Congress in Europe: let’s rock!

Phase 1 of the Congress in Europe: let’s rock!

About sixty delegates and guests participated in the first phase of the Fondacio Congress in Europe

from Tuesday evening, May 24 to Friday, May 27, 2022, in Versailles. A forum on the theme “Youth, ecology and Fondacio: challenges and perspectives” was held on Wednesday, May 25. Then the delegates reviewed the last four years, with the aim of defining new orientations for the next mandate.

Day 1: the cry of youth

After the Togo and the Colombia, it was France’s turn to host the first phase of the Fondacio Congress, for the European continent, from the evening of Tuesday 24 to Friday 27 May. About sixty European delegates, members of the Council and guests met at the Hermitage, in Versailles.

A forum on youth and ecology was held on Wednesday, May 25. “We have chosen to invite young people and partners to be moved and to listen to what disturbs us,” explains François Prouteau, president of Fondacio.

“We are four years after the last Congress. We have one year left before the new one: the road is not completely finished and we are preparing the future. What are our priorities? In the Philippines, we told ourselves that our goal was to build a more humane, just and fraternal world with the other inhabitants of the earth, human and non-human. This is the meaning of the ecological approach in which we are engaged.

God calls us to stand. It enjoins us to safeguard our common home, to lead a path of transformation and service.”

Time of worship before the launch of the forum, Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

Five external witnesses

Delegates and guests first shared “burning” questions on the theme of ecology and youth. Then four personalities from outside Fondacio took the floor:

  • Sixte Morat, General Delegate of Misericordia. This association develops social and pastoral projects in the outskirts of Santiago, Buenos Aires, Aubervilliers and New York (Bronx).
  • Tanguy Descamps, who collected, in his book
    Let’s switch to a sustainable world
    30 testimonies of young people joyfully committed to the service of the planet.
  • Adrien Louandre, diocesan delegate in charge of integral ecology in Angers, who testified to his double conversion. He challenged, “Realize the strength of Fondacio, whose charism is based on the four pillars of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si: relationship to self, to others, to God and to nature. Live your charism to the fullest!”
  • Pierre Thomas, from the association Le Rocher. This organization works to build a more just and fraternal society in French neighborhoods, focusing on three areas: education, assistance to parents and social and professional integration.
From left to right: Sixte Morat, Tanguy Descamps, Adrien Louandre and Pierre Thomas.

In the evening, Jesuit and author Xavier de Bénazé presented his work on the transition campusIn the east of Paris: “Being coherent is essential to make people want to join us and to contribute to the larger issues of society. To engage in a relationship with oneself, with others, with God, with nature. Finally, to dare to honor the spiritual dimension. The important thing is: put down roots, regardless of your religion! If, for you, rooting is through nature, permaculture, seek, find and root yourself.”

Xavier de Bénazé, Jesuit and author, gave a lecture at the Hermitage on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

Day 2: the cry of Fondacio

On Thursday and Friday, the delegates worked in small groups to update Fondacio’s charism for the next mandate, in 2023. Nicolas Cordier, from the Council, emphasized the need for Fondacio to update its charisma: “The charisma is a gift from God to humanity of His love, of His grace, for the good of the Church and the salvation of the world. From the beginning, Fondacio has been moved by this grasp of the love of Christ. It transforms us and leads us to act in the world.”

The challenge, Nicolas Cordier continues, is to “present Christianity in a way that is appeasing to the modern world, that it can be tasty for our contemporaries. It is also to rethink the announcement of the Good News. To be the leaven in the dough that can widen the circle. We are all co-responsible for the actualization of this charism.”

Four internal indicators

On Thursday morning, four members of Fondacio spoke. Gabrielle Ethève, from the Hermitage, spoke on the theme of youth empowerment in Fondacio.

Then Thierry Lechat, responsible for Fondacio in Grenoble, spoke about homo-sensitivity. He shared his experience of difference within our movement:

By choosing to get married, I hoped to be healed by God. I have started a long journey. Three things marked me: everything that happened around marriage for all. I suffered a lot from it. I also suffered from the position of the Church. Second, the denial of tenure to a young person who had officially come out as gay. Finally, the abuses in the Church. For me it was incomprehensible, I did not live it easily and I was unable to speak about it for fear of being revealed in what I was. Today, sexuality is much less taboo in France. What word of life can Fondacio bring to young people? What is the place of people who are different within Fondacio?

Benoît Vignon, a permanent staff member for ten years, spoke about the realities and experiences of the permanent staff. Finally, Laurence Guérid, in charge of the social pole at the Hermitage, shared her experience in welcoming the poorest.

“I fed on your cries”

At the end of these testimonies, François Prouteau said: “There is a lot of energy, enthusiasm, joy and gravity too. I retain attitudes. Everything starts from a way of living the Gospel, as a foundation for moving forward. This reality calls us in depth into the synodal process. This gives me great joy. I am concerned that we be concrete.”

Catherine, a participant in the Congress, added: “I leave with a lot of energy and the conviction that Fondacio is on the move, questioning itself. Thank you! I wish you the best and, in that best, I will be!” “The testimonies have touched me a lot,” shared Daniel for his part. “I’ve been feeding off your cries. It continues to set me in motion.”

Day 3: Nicusor’s cry

The program of the third morning of the Congress was shaken by the testimony, or rather the cry of the heart, of Nicusor Golisteanu, head of Fondacio in Romania: “I realized that the realities are not the same for everyone.” Romania shares “about 40% of its borders” with Ukraine. “There was a lot of fighting and bombing 15km from the border and 30km from one of our projects,” said Nicusor, who also realized he might be called upon to fight “because I’m under 40. I’m not prepared for this. People in our community are also wondering, all of them are under 40…”

For a month at the beginning of the war, “it was very difficult,” he continued. “We were wondering if we should go hide in the mountains. We found ourselves with people at our doors who came to beg. They didn’t speak the same language as us, but they were Orthodox, like us. This is the context in which we are since the beginning of the war. That’s why it irritated me that we were not in the “doing”, in the action. Perhaps it will be difficult for us to travel in the future. I don’t want to be left with the regret of not having done anything here.”

News from Fondacio in Romania

“Our community is very active and changes every year,” Nicusor reported. “We don’t have a permanent staff. We are all volunteers. That’s why we have to be very specific. We’ve stopped activities that we’ve been doing for a long time that had no future.”

Currently, Fondacio is carrying
two projects
in Romania :

  • Close to the border with Ukraine and Moldova lies a poor and less developed region, where the rate of domestic violence is high as is the number of abandoned children. “We bought a 6,000-square-meter lot six years ago where we built an activity center.” The latter benefits about 1500 people. It includes: a medical center, a place for abandoned children and a playground.
  • In Romania, there are still small isolated villages in the mountains, not connected to roads, water or electricity. “A journalist from the national television did a report on these villages. We started a project together so that the local people would not leave their villages.” With the help of students from IFF Europe, “we renovated a school, created an activity center and two social economy projects. A report was made for national television about these students and Fondacio.

“We must realize that the world is changing. We can’t wait another five years to finish the projects”, said the head of Fondacio in Romania. For François Prouteau, “we are all invited to let ourselves be challenged, to be closer to our brothers, in a concrete way. Let us be attentive to the impulse that Nicusor’s testimony will provoke in us. We will seek to make present these realities that he evokes.”

News from Fondacio in the UK

Maddy Edwards, head of Fondacio in the UK, tells us about the activities of her (small) community:

In progress

Conclusion: let’s act, let’s switch!

Cécile Villegas, from the Congress organizing team, shared her feelings at the end of the four days at the Hermitage: “It was a very powerful experience. We let the Spirit speak. It was very dense, with a lot of testimonies and listening. The idea was also to hear from people outside of Fondacio about youth. Nicusor’s cry shook us out of our comfort. He transcended us. Nicusor has transported us into his reality. It led us to move. I experienced it as a symbolic stone on the way. This will mark another point in this synodal process, after Africa and Latin America. It also highlights the importance of Phase 1s.”

Vasile Gradjian, from Fondacio in Romania, recalls, “I am delighted with this return to face-to-face, after two years at a distance.” As for Marc Fornari, president of Gad (Groupe d’aide au discernement): “The young people have made themselves heard and have taken their place. It really moved me. We heard from young witnesses who are very committed. There is truly a future for Fondacio in this intergenerational alliance. We must move forward together. Nicusor’s cry really upset me. For me, a new stage must begin today.”

Finally, Yvonne Altorfer, a member of the Council and responsible for the preparation and animation of the Congress, underlines: “After two years of Covid, it was vital to recreate links. That’s why we listened to the Spirit and organized these phases 1.”

4th part in Asia

After Togo, Colombia and France, the4th part of the pre-Congress will take place in August in Asia. A forum on “Movements of Vulnerability, Exploring Livelihoods, Development and Migration in a Bruised Asia”, post-Covid, will be held on Saturday, August 13 and 20, 2022. The delegates will then meet in working groups on August 26, 27 and 28.

To register and attend the two-day forum online, simply scan the code below with your smartphone camera:

“We will then have time to mature all these first phases and move up to the election, in March 2023, during the3rd and final phase of the Congress,” Yvonne says. “It will be held in Togo, where we put the first stones in Phase 1, in February.”

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