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An Interview with our brother Fernando Ayala

We catch up with Fernando Ayala during a busy season of meetings. Fernando, a native of Monterrey, serves— among other things—as the Regional Steward, the key administrative and legal officer in each region. Fernando is also a passionate runner, and (up to now) the fastest runner in the brotherhood, having multiple sub-three hour marathons to his name.

So, not surprisingly, our conversation starts with a chat about his personal trainer, a friend who has helped him tailor his workouts to his personality and level of proficiency and thus helped him reach his ambitious running goals. We are duly impressed with this level of dedication.

Fernando carries a lot of responsibilities.

There is the Regional Steward role, which encompasses such varied tasks as purchasing vehicles, researching burial plots for the brothers and making sure all the brothers and their property are insured. He also leads the household of fourteen brothers, some of whom are in formation or have just recently joined the house. He also looks after the formation of one of the affiliates. He serves in the local Sword of the Spirit community as a coordinator in training, which involves overseeing a university district with ten small groups and their respective leaders.

We ask him whether he travels.

“I am not looking to travel, given how many of my responsibilities are local. So I just do a little!” Upon inquiring what “a little” means, we find out that he is also a Kairos Missionary, meaning the outside person consulting on and helping with youth programs in four communities: in Tampico and Xalapa in Mexico, in Quito, Ecuador, and in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

One of the more interesting responsibilities is leading the region’s Standing in the Gap program. For many years now, Sword of the Spirit communities across the world have been receiving and or sending young people to other communities for a year of service. Monterrey, a well-established community, has a large Gap program.

“On average we have eighteen to twenty ‘Gappers’ who need looking after – anything from visas, insurance to housing, service placements and personal pastoral care.

These young people arrive in September, get placed in areas of service in the community in Monterrey and its outreaches for the first four months. Then they are sent to smaller communities where they literally “stand in the Gap” by filling needs in that group. “And they have barely left for their new places of service,” Fernando explains, “when a new group of Gappers arrives for the second term.” This leads us to ask the somewhat ironic question what Fernando does in his free time. But he doesn’t catch the irony and simply responds: “I have my parents and my sister in community, and I love spending time with them. I also enjoy visiting friends in the community or grabbing a beer with one of the brothers in the house.”

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