On Jan. 18, 2024, some young people from various countries from the International Center of the Focolare Movement, accompanied by their leaders, visited the Youth Office of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life to present the upcoming Genfest.

A very enriching meeting was held on January 18 by some young people of various nationalities from the International Center of the Focolare Movement at the Youth Office of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. They were welcomed by Father João Chagas, head of the Office, Gleison De Paula Souza, secretary of the Dicastery, and the whole team.

The objective of this meeting was to present the upcoming Genfest, the world event promoted by the youth of the Focolare Movement, which will be held in July 2024 in Brazil and will also involve other Latin American countries in the first phase.

“During this meeting we had the opportunity to share our most important personal experiences in view of Genfest 2024,” Mariane (Brazil) tells us. Moreover,” she continues, “I perceived that we were in a welcoming environment that reflected the diversity and interculturality that also characterizes us at the International Focolare Center.

“It was my first time attending a meeting at the Vatican,” says Sole, representing the youths of Asia. “Previously I thought the Church was serious and authoritative. Instead, I was struck by this desire to listen to the voices of young people.”

The young people, after introductions and initial moments of exchange, were able to discuss various topics with those present.

“The members of the Office, together with Fr. Chagas, told us about the work done for World Youth Day (WYD) held in 2023 in Lisbon (Portugal),” says Maria José (Venezuela), “and invited us to tell what the experience was like for those of us who were able to participate. Finally, we talked about our work for Genfest in its different phases. What struck me most was feeling the family atmosphere. They expressed their great confidence in the project we are pursuing. We are aware that there are challenges, but this is also a richness that invites us to move forward.”

“Juntos para cuidar” (Together to care) is the theme chosen for the upcoming Genfest, and it was precisely the concept of “togetherness,” of “synodality,” that became a point of great reflection during this meeting. “During this dialogue,” David (Venezuela) recounts, “Secretary Gleison De Paula Souza mentioned the Gospel of Mark (cf. Mk. 10:46-52), in which the blind Bartimaeus is mentioned. He used this biblical passage to talk about synodality, about going to those who are rejected to welcome them and make them feel loved. I had the feeling that God was saying, ‘This is the path we must follow. Moreover, I think that, every day, we can meet people who are inspired by the Holy Spirit and, as a Church, we have to be open to listen to everything that comes from outside as well. This is synodality for me.”

In her experience, however, Masha (Russia) who belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church, synodality is walking together in diversity without fear: “It is going out to meet the other, finding a common language, the one that comes directly from each person’s heart; it is going out to meet a brother or sister of a different denomination, a non-believer, but without effort. Only with the desire to witness and go. There will be no future if we do not make this journey together.”

At the conclusion of this moment, Father João Chagas, head of the Office expressed his joy for this moment of such a participatory and lively exchange, a moment that enriched him personally. We share in the following video some impressions about it and his best wishes for the upcoming Genfest.

Maria Grazia Berretta

Watch the video (activate English subtitles)

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