Because of how much I enjoyed, appreciated and benefited from the Formation Conference of recent years, I was, at a deep personal level, looking forward to this 2010 conference. Yes! I was looking forward to meeting my fellow religious from the other European Provinces but I was also energized by the theme of the conference and, as I was to be accompanied by two lay members of the Life in the Eucharist movement in the Province – the newest member and the youngest member, respectively – I was looking forward as to how they would experience and react to the conference – the theme, the presentations, the sharing, the community living and the prayer and worship of participants, during the conference.
In truth, I was inspired and reasured by the confrence presentations, I was energized by the group sharing, humbled by the participation and reaction of the lay conference members and I was quite moved by the commmunity atmosphere of the conference. The celebration of the Eucharist, the morning and evening prayer of the Church and the daily hour of adoration during the Conference was quite inspirational. I was filled with the sense of hope and confidence in our future, that was very much in evidence during the conference, and the need for me to have and own the Passion of Eymard, filled me with determination.
Fr. Antonio Pedretti, did a superb job in organizing the conference and, as always, he was unassuming in manner, thorough in his attention to detail and most helpful in responding to the practical issues as they arose. Because of a recent car accident Fr. André Guitton, was unable to attend but Fr Moretti and Fr. Verhoeven were a very worthy substitutes. Fr. Erasto Fernandez delivered a most enlightening presentation on the theme of “The discipleship and apostleship in the New testatment”, which I found challenging, exciting and humbling. Fr. Moretti’s presentation (written by Fr. Guitton) on “Fr. Eymard, disciple and apostle of the Eucharist, in Response to the World of his time”, gave me much food for thought, made me reflect on the reality of our world today and challenged me to explore how Fr. Eymard might respond. Listening to how Fr. Albert Tesniere, and Fr. Charles Michel-Jean, in their time, walked in the footsteps of Fr. Eymard, gave me hope and confidence. Fr. Verhoevn’s presentation on “The World in which we live challenges us”, just highlighted for me, the cold reality of the challenge that confronts me, if I really aspire to be a true Eucharist follower of Eymard. Because of my own interest in the monastic tradition of spiritualityand because of my retreat work with the missionaries of charity I was excited by Fr. Erasto’s on “Suggestions from the Asiastic Culture”. The group sharing was enjoyable, focused and challenging, and, in the English speaking group, having the lay people with congregational members from other cultures participating, gave fresh vibrancy to the discussions. Towards the end of the conference, Fr. Hans van Schijndel, with great clarity and thoroughness, spoke on “The Preparation of the General Chapter”.
In excess of 50 delegates attended the conference.The monastic setting and venue was ideal for the kind of reflecting and pondering that was taking place. The warmth of welcome and hospitality offered was Eymardian in style and approach, and the host community members were gracious, hard working and most helpful. The translator did a superb job in communicating the content of the presentations.
I left the conference with hope, determination and, yes! passion.I came home with new hope for the future. I am determined to explore and promote genuine collaboration with the laity and my passion for Eymard has me reading Fr. Guitton’s excellent book on Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist.