Madrid, Spain. On July 2, 2022, Forge-25 came to an end. The participants arrived at this milestone with a good feeling. They have completed two and a half months fully dedicated to getting to know the charism of the Congregation a little better, praying for a longer period of time, going on pilgrimage to holy places, reflecting together on fundamental aspects of the Claretian vocation, sharing experiences and celebrating in faith and fraternity all that they have seen and heard.

Was it worth it? Perhaps it is too early to say. By their fruits, you will know them… or not, if the light is hidden under the bushel of forgetfulness or neglect. Missionary life does not usually run through amazing mutations, but through very slow transformations that test patience and hope. One is left with the certainty of knowing that one will reap what one has sown. And, although God may allow an exception to that rule, He often adjusts to one’s individual processes and to the greater or lesser personal collaboration.

If there is any distinctive sign of this Forge-25, as expressed by the Claretians themselves, it has been the degree of fraternity lived among them, even though they are only a temporary community. Precisely one of the most marked deficiencies in the Congregation has been its achievement (modest, eh?) of this already almost concluded experience of renewal. They acknowledge this without any kind of smugness. And to what has this been due? Possibly for having put interest and dedication to giving an appreciative approach to the conversational dynamics that have run through all its activities from beginning to end.

We return once again to our communities of origin, with the desire and longing to be able to recount what we have experienced and, more than anything else, to witness it with our humble and visible example. We thank those who have collaborated to make this experience possible, although we have not been able to avoid the COVID, nor the complicated procedures of visas and permits. The gratitude is great and directed to many: To the General Government, especially the Prefecture of Spirituality and Community Life; to the various Governments of the Organisms represented here; to the local communities committed to substituting for their members in time of Forge; to all the people who have been involved in logistics, various services and operation; to those who have welcomed and served us; to those who have repeatedly manifested their prayers and support. We thank God that our brother Daniel Monje arrived in time to be physically present at his father’s Easter. And, above all, thanks be given to God our Father now and forever for all that he continues to give us, whether we realize it or not. And to Mary, Immaculate Heart that protects and sustains us.

Juan Carlos Martos cmf