Organized by the Catholic Church’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, the meeting coincided with the publication of the “Instrumentum laboris” of the next Synod of Catholic Bishops in October, which is dedicated to youth. This thought-provoking document includes the input of young people from around the world..
Kevin Farrell, the Dicastery’s Cardinal Prefect introduced the meeting. Msgr Carlos Simón Vázquez, delegate for the Family and Life section presented the latest developments concerning the IX World Meeting of Families which will be celebrated in Dublin from 21 to 26 August. Fr Alexandre Awi Mello, the Dicastery’s Secretary reported on the preparations for next October’s Synod of Bishops. Giovanna Guerrieri Nalin, of the Youth Office spoke about the next World Youth Day, scheduled to be held in Panama in January 2019. In the afternoon, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, presented the aims, the expectations, and the prospects of the upcoming Synod.
The contribution of the Focolare Movement
The Focolare Movement was among the participants, represented by a young person from Salvador, Nelson Vanegas and Focolare President Maria Voce, who reflected on how “apostolic initiatives directed towards young people in the areas of announcing the faith and of vocation, can be rooted in the characteristic experience born from the charism of unity”. Back in the 1960s young people turned to Chiara as she called for a new type of revolution, inspired by Gospel love (“Youth of the world unite!”). This has led to the development of new ways and centres of formation and witness, shaped together with the young people themselves. These cover areas such as the gift that the young and older can be for one another, the link between life and thought, the living out of fraternity to respond to the challenges and problems of today’s world.
Nelson had participated in the presynodal meeting in March. He presented the Focolare’s youth-focused activity. “In annual summer schools of formation for young people, we cover theological and moral formation. This involves a style of accompanying the young which is in tune with Pope Francis’ suggestions. Schools of vocational discernment offer a real pathway for young people aged between 23 and 30 years, a crucial age, to face up to making definitive choices for their personal life plan”.
There are also opportunities for young people to experience the link between life and study. He explained how “the University Institute of Sophia, based in Loppiano (near Florence, Italy), aims to enable the interaction of areas of knowledge through an academic project centred on the experience of a studying community. Research, ideas and life are shared not only between students from different countries and backgrounds, but also between students and academics”. Other opportunities for youth formation are offered in national and international congresses and “schools” for the Gen (the young generations of the Focolare Movement).
Finally, Nelson announced the Genfest. “It is a formative experience, based on a widespread ongoing commitment to inclusion, welcoming and listening to others, which leads to true dialogue and to the construction of deep relationships. A Genfest is above all a profound spiritual experience, through which in past years, many young people have heard or reheard the call of God, to live for something great, to fulfill the last prayer and dream of Jesus”. The next Genfest is almost here: in Manila, the Philippines, 6-8 July, with the title “Beyond all borders”.