Visit to the Missionary Fraternity in Requena
The Definitor General Br. Nestor Inacio Schwerz and the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Francis Solano Mauro Vallejo, both made a fraternal visit to the Missionary Fraternity of the Amazon Project (cf. Mandate 24) in Requena from June 27-30, 2012. It took an hour by plane from Lima to Iquitos, then another hour and forty minutes by bus from Iquitos to Nauta where they took a speedboat along the Ucayali River for three hours until they reached Requena. The Missionary Fraternity, made up of Brothers of six different countries of Latin America, live in one of the grounds of the Vicarate in the small town of Requena, which has between 25,000-30,000 inhabitants. It is still a small town with virtually no cars, but with lots of movement and noise.
Those who are part of the Missionary Fraternity are Eugenio Ortiz (Argentinian, Guardian), Br. Ademir Battistuz and Br. Atilio Francisco (Brazilians), Br. Chanchari Edel (Peruvian, Treasurer), Br. Bernardo González (Mexican), and Br. Vincente Patricio Guerra (Ecuadorian). The visit included being part of the everyday community life, organized in three stages: 1) meeting with the fraternity during which the memory of their five month-long presence in this reality was recalled; 2) personal dialogue with each of the members of the Fraternity and the Bishop of the Vicariate; and 3) meeting with all the Friars of Requena. As they shared the memories of five months since the missionary fraternity was established, it was found that there was a process of building the missionary fraternity and small experiences of inclusion in the reality of the Vicariate and the Amazon’s broader context.
There are varieties of gifts, expectations, and motivations among the Brothers of the fraternity. In these past five months, they sought to strengthen the bonds of fraternal life and the proposal to take upon themselves, as a fraternity, a mission in both the vicariate of Requena and the Amazon and witness to fraternal life and the values of the Franciscan charism. Yet, they realized that this was not an easy task, for the tendency is to enter the logic of responding to many needs. When personally dialoguing with each Brother, the diversity of reasons and expectations became even clearer. Each brother is willing to contribute to this Missionary Project of the Order, though keeping in mind their gifts and personal limitations. Bishop Brother John also expressed his willingness to accept this Project of the Order and collaborate in the best way possible.
Some aspects were clearer in this five months process while others remain open. When planning the next steps, the following elements became clear: the fraternity is challenged to continue to consolidate the fraternal life with the diversity of its components; programming missionary experiences in the different realities of the Vicariate for a longer period of time; increase dialogue between the missionary fraternity and the Bishop of the Vicariate and other missionaries; building projects in the area of the Amazon from local initiatives; sharing of experiences at the level of the Order to sensitize the Friars and motivate the arrival of other missionaries in view of a more significant presence in the Pan-Amazonia; and gradually build a network of solidarity and collaboration at the level of the Franciscan Family, the laity, and other institutes and organizations.