From February 21 to June 19, a group of 15 temporary professed brothers, accompanied by 3 formators, are getting ready for perpetual profession in Cochabamba, Bolivia. They come from 9 Administrative Units and 6 different countries.
The following account aims at sharing the beginning of this formation experience leading to the final commitment in our religious consecration.
The corridors at the Youth House, located a few kilometers from Cochabamba (Bolivia), echoed with the voice of the brothers as they arrived on February 19. The warm initial greetings in Portuguese, Spanish and Italian showed there are no borders when fraternity is our language.
The participants are Brothers Diego and Ismael (Santa María de los Andes); João Paulo (Amazonia District); José Augusto, José Rogério, and Paulo Henrique (Brasil Centro Norte); Tiago (Brasil Centro Sul); Antonio and Adán (Central Mexico), Valentín (Western Mexico); Juan Pablo, Hugo, and Yan (Norandina); René (Central America); and Stefano (Mediterránea). Three brothers are with them as leading team: Rodrigo (Central America), Romidio (Rio Grande do Sul) and Anacleto (Brasil Centro Sul). All of them are willing to live a wonderful journey together in this essential land of the Bolivian Andes.
The journey begins
We celebrated the beginning of our journey on the morning of Saturday 21st with a meaningful Eucharist presided over by Father Francisco, enjoying the participation of our brothers from the Interprovincial novitiate community of Santa Maria de los Andes and Cruz del Sur. The readings were very suggestive regarding the process we were beginning. First, a letter of Father Champagnat invited the brothers to come to the Hermitage. Then the proclamation of Psalm 127 reminded us that we should let the Lord build our house. Finally, in Mark’s Gospel Jesus invited his disciples to a lonely place all by themselves to rest for a while (cf. Mc 6:31).
The first steps
Later on, we rushed to the streets of Cochabamba for a full immersion in the music, dance, color, and playfulness of the carnival tradition, which represents an intangible heritage of our Latin American region. It was a perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of the town, stroll through the streets, take some photos, and start weaving ties of friendship and fraternity within the group.
Next to Mary
At 3:00 p.m. on February 22, all of us were ready at the house entrance to set out under a radiant sunshine. Eighteen men got under way, the Little Brothers of Mary, heading to our destination, and discovering this unknown land in an atmosphere of glad conversation, laughter, expectation, and weariness. All of a sudden, we were before the shrine of Our Lady of Urcupiña, a place of pilgrimage surrounded by vegetation and rocks, overlooking the region from a hill as a symbol of divine protection for the faithful. Standing next to the image of Mary, we sang the Salve Regina, placing in her hands the journey we were beginning.
Following the tradition, we broke a rock into pieces; each of us took a small piece and brought it back home, with the promise of returning to the shrine and putting it back in its place when Mary grants us the favor we requested.
On February 23, Brothers Rodrigo, Romidio and Anacleto, the leading team, presented the program of our journey. There was time for questions, comments, and suggestions. Our eyes, ears, and voices were attentive, and somehow we were holding our personal history in our hands, ready to embark on this time of opportunity, and take responsibility for our own process. We appreciated the richness of our diversity, and dreamt about generating fraternity among us.
Trust, transparency, passion and patience will be the key elements we will need to enjoy this day-to-day encounter with Jesus, in order to refine our loving answer to his call, without forgetting that “by being natural we discover the deepest rhythm of life and learn to hope, carrying out what needs to be done every day in a simple and thorough way”.
Until June 19, the program will include workshops, meetings, trips, celebrations, and much fraternal conviviality. “Living this journey heart in hand, to renew the gift of our consecration” is our great desire. We invite you to come along with us!