LIFE ASCENDING IN SPAIN
In 1979, Juan Antonio Castañeda, a priest from Ciudad Real, who had known Vie Montante in France, created the first group in his parish. But the key date of vida Ascendente's beginning in Spain was 1979, when two ladies from Madrid accompanied by Fr. Vicente Lores, diocesan operator, met Fr. Dierykx, spiritual advisor of Vie Montante, on a day dedicated to the spirituality of the third age, where he gave a lecture on the Movement, which animated them, which was confirmed when they attended, as guests, in Strasbourg, a Congress of Vie Montante (MCR).
The Episcopal Commission of the Secular Apostolate asked them to promote the movement in Spain, and after a period of wide dissemination, in November 1986, the Episcopal Conference recognized the Secular Apostolate Movement of the Retired and Elders, as Public Association of Faithful and approved its statutes.
Gradually, the Movement has established itself in all Spanish dioceses (69), with the support of diocesan bishops and many parish priests, in the parishes from which groups usually meet: weekly (62%), every 15 days (20%) monthly (18%), reaching more than 1,800 groups and 25,000 members, although these numbers have been reduced to 1,550 and 17,500 members respectively.
Groups live the fundamental principles of Vida Ascendente: fraternal friendship, sharing joys and sorrows, satisfactions and difficulties in helping each other. Spirituality, deepening of faith and growth in prayer, formation and adherence to Christ, sharing the teachings and experiences of Sunday readings and pamphlets that are published each year. The Apostolate they do in their families and social relations and in a particular way in the parishes themselves: catechism, liturgy, Caritas,visiting the sick, etc.
In many dioceses, an action is organized to accompany the elders in the Residences, elders who even participate in the groups of life ascending that are created.
Vida Ascendente, as a unique ecclesial movement, participates in these organizations and activities of the Secular Apostolate: Laity Forums, Conferences, Congresses... and organized in, parallel to the Family Congress in Valencia in 2006, a Congress of Elders with significant participation and rich content.
From its beginnings, the movement has felt the concern expressed by Pope John Paul II when he declared in 1982 in Valencia (Spain): " It is necessary that a pastoral care for the elderly develops in the Church, in which the creative role of the latter is emphasized.” and the Pontifical Council for the, Lays published, in 1998, a document,, "The dignity of the elderly and their mission in the Church and in the world",in which he insists on this pastoral care and gives some direction for its development.
To this end, and given its needs and importance, Vida Ascendente worked and proposed it, on various occasions, to the Episcopal Conference, but did not find an echo. Great was our joy, when the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life convened the International Congress of the Pastoral care of the elderly, which was held in Rome from 29 to 31 January with a large number of participants and a great content, and attended by 70 Spanish members of Vida Ascendente, which led the Spanish Episcopal Conference to take into account and with great interest the development of Vida Ascendente.
Spain, too, has contributed material assistance through the visits of many people in Latin America, to the establishment of Vida Ascendente in some of these countries, and is always ready to help them for the good of the Movement and the elderly.
Jose Maria Castaño
Secretary General of Vida Ascendente Spain