The RFM 2023 Annual Assembly took place at the Monte Alvernia Retreat House, located in San Salvador, El Salvador, from September 20th to 26th.

The Assembly was attended by members of the Franciscan Network for Migrants (RFM) from the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia and Brazil. In addition to the members of the RFM, collaborating organizations such as Franciscans International, the Quixote Center, FAN (Franciscan Action Network), Protection International and PRAMI (Programme for Assistance to Migrants and Refugees) were also present. These organizations play a fundamental role in promoting and defending the rights of migrants and refugees in the region.

The first day began with a workshop facilitated by expert Joaquín Raymundo from Guatemala, a member of the organization Protection International, which addressed risk analysis and collective security. He guided attendees through different strategies and tools to assess and mitigate the risks faced by organizations and communities, as well as the relevance of documenting human rights violations.

The second day was developed by Margarita Núñez from Mexico on behalf of PRAMI (Program for Attention to Migrants and Refugees) who reaffirmed the theme of documentation as a tool for the defense of human rights, the steps to develop it methodologically from everyday life, these first days marked the beginning of the work articulated by incidence.

On the other days, representatives and members of the different RFM teams shared experiences, best practices, and challenges in working with migrants and refugees in their respective countries.

We also discussed highly relevant issues, such as the protection of the human rights of migrants, the fight against human trafficking, and the promotion of fairer and more inclusive immigration policies. It was valuable to delve deeper into the roots of Franciscan spirituality through the vision of Saint Clare of Assisi and minority in the service of care for people on the move. The participants exchanged ideas, proposed joint actions and strengthened the ties of collaboration between the different organizations and countries represented.

Among the agreements reached was the establishment of regional teams, thus giving rise to the Pan-Amazon Regional team, made up of Panama, Colombia and Brazil, and the CA-3 team, made up of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. These teams allow us to establish new work ties to affirm the development of the teams in the support and service they provide across borders.

We were also honored to participate in the Eucharist for the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees in the Cathedral of San Salvador, in the Crypt of Monseñor Romero. This symbolic place is loaded with meaning for all the faithful due to the figure of Romero and his fight for social justice in El Salvador. We thank Fray Luis Enrique Zaldaña, Provincial Minister of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe of Central America, and Father José Cuevas Preciado, Scalabrinian, for being our spiritual companions in this celebration.

There was a warm atmosphere among the participants, with excellent results from the face-to-face meetings, by listening to each other, sharing food, carrying out dialogues, and having a few hours of recreational and playful experiences, in the evenings and on scheduled outings. Presence enriches and nourishes the Network project.

In summary, the 2023 Annual Assembly was a significant event for its clear focus on defending the rights of migrants and refugees in the region and for the effort to continue expanding collaborative work with new strategies achieved by sharing experiences and the work of the RFM teams, which allowed the development of the assembly to be carried out in a good spirit. To this was added the collective prayers and Eucharists, as in the themes, Francis-Clarian spirituality, which continues to inspire us in commitment as brothers and sisters in accompanying those who are on their journey.

May the Good God, our Father and Mother, and Francis and Clare continue to be present. May the Spirit continue to push and move us towards new challenges, and may the life of Jesus continue to be the way we want to live and be in the world, being disciples in the Francis-Clarian way on the way, to the peripheries of the world.