On the weekend of December 7-9, 2018, Central American Associates met in Salcaja, Guatemala, for their second retreat.
Traveling from Iowa to the retreat were Franciscan Associate Coordinator Lisa Schmidt and Franciscan Associate Nancy Guthrie. The retreat included seven associates from Guatemala, four associates from Honduras, and two associates from El Salvador, as well as Sisters Pat Farrell, Mary Beth Goldsmith, and Carol Hawkins, who minister in Honduras.
“The second Associates retreat exemplified our shared life or ‘convivencia’ together,” said Nancy Guthrie. “Whether over meals of wonderful typical Guatemalan food offered lovingly from our hosts, jokes, game breaks, or songs sung together, our life together for three short days was rich and full.”
The retreat was patterned after Gathering held in the fall for the Associates in Dubuque, said Lisa. This is to include the Central American Associates on similar practices as their American counterparts.
“The retreat included prayer, reflection and input culminated in expressions of care and support for our varied ministries across Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador,” said Nancy. “As one coming from Iowa, it was special to communicate our connection and desire as North American Associates and Sisters to share the values and charisms of Francis and Clare in our daily lives. I hope more of us from the north will find ways to experience ‘convivencia’ with these special people. I am richer for it.”
For Lisa Schmidt, reuniting with the Central American Associates she met in December 2016 at the first retreat in El Salvador was very special.
“It is such a privilege to be with them again. To be in their space and be welcomed–the hospitality they showed us was amazing,” she said. “They view being Associates as their responsibility to carry out the values of Saints Francis and Clare. And at the retreat they are able to connect with others who have the same values and want to share the charism.”
The retreat is very important to the Central American Associates and they are committed to many hours of travel in order to be together. It took the group from Honduras 19 hours to reach the retreat’s location in Guatemala. But in the end, it was worth the long hours in the car.
“The gathering of Associates was a wonderful experience!” said Sister Mary Beth Goldsmith. “The spirit of Franciscan joy was so apparent through the sharing that occurred, the renewal of friendships and the laughter that could be heard throughout the weekend. I came away from the experience with a deep gratitude for the Franciscan spirit that lives in our Central American Associates!”