150 leaders from the world of business and the workplace enthusiastically participated in the VI International Congress of the Community of Schoenstatt Businessmen and Executives, CIEES, held with an online format from Santiago de Chile last November 5 and 6.

Under the motto “Missionaries from the Shrine to the workplace” the two-day meeting was attended by participants from 12 countries and 14 CIEES communities.

“Each community was able to show its fruits, initiatives and apostolates of the last 10 years, which generated a great participation,” said Francisco Contardo, president of CIEES Chile, who assumed the international presidency of the organization.

“We had excellent speakers, who spoke to us about authority, purpose, attachments, with an emphasis on going out from Schoenstatt to the Church and the world, as Father Kentenich asked of us,” said Contardo.

CIEES 2021

The congress was especially dynamic because it included workshops, prepared by the CIEES Formation Department team, led by Paola Gómez, with a dozen facilitators who led the work by groups in several rooms. “It used a modern platform, which allowed us to gather opinions and trends immediately and made it easier to reach conclusions quickly,” commented Paola Gómez.

In his speech, the outgoing president of CIEES International, Carlos Pampliega, summarized the main achievements of the last two years, thanking everyone for the support received from all countries.

ChileAt the congress, which celebrated 10 years of the CIEES, a testimony from Father Rafael Fernández, who founded this organization with a group of lay individuals, was shown and he was thanked for his dedication throughout these years. Recognition was also given to Christian Ketterer, who ceased being executive director after an outstanding career promoting and supporting the formation of communities throughout Latin America.

Schoenstatt International interviewed Francisco Contardo, new president of CIEES International. The following is a transcription of the interview:

What impact can this congress and CIEES itself have on a more just approach to the social aspect in the workplace?

While one might think of a micro approach, this is not the case. The presentations spoke of coherence especially in the treatment of the organization’s collaborators based on Saint Joseph’s example in his year. Thus, numerous examples were developed that challenged us and made us aware of the progress made, but also of our own mistakes, where we must be fairer. In the workshops, many of the participants were already expressing concrete changes and actions for increased justice to be carried out in their organizations.

How does the CIEES spread?

Although not all CIEES members attended, the message has already spread among them, and nowadays there are 290 registered, impacting 5,320 people directly. Therefore, the positive impact is much greater than one might think at first glance. That is why it is so important to continue with this mission, to reach more countries and communities. Schoenstatt and our Church, we can also take them to the workplace!”

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What was the contribution of Father Rafael Fernandez in this encounter?

Father Rafael Fernandez gave us a summary of the history of CIEES, of how it emerged from an encounter in the Shrine of Bellavista, in Chile, and how it was conceived for the workplace in the broad sense. One of the participants in that encounter, Eduardo Jurado, who came from Ecuador, presented the idea of forming a group of Schoenstatt businessmen and executives; and that is where this history began. A year later the first international CIEES congress was held in Guayaquil.

What challenges did Father Rafael raise?

Father Rafael indicated to us that now is the time for the laity to carry the banner of their apostolates to the real world. And he challenged us to also take this mission to the world of communications. There, where he has been a pioneer in spreading Father Kentenich’s pedagogy, he asks us, the laity, to embrace the challenge.

https://cieesinternacional.org/