Two hundred young people from 67 countries representing all the various youth expressions of the Movement worldwide are gathering together for the first time in Rome: young people belonging to different Churches, some followers of different religions, from a wide variety of different cultures. All have been called together in order to draw up proposals and a shared vision for the next six years.
“There’s a new thirst for something challenging and authentic among young people now. We’re very aware of the issues facing today’s world. And we realise that it’s too difficult to do anything about them on our own. We know how to link up with many other young people who want to be agents of change. And we can work together with the older generations too”. So speaks Nicholas, a 27-year-old Italian and Amanda, 29, from Brazil. Both are members of the commission preparing the Focolare Movement’s first international Youth Assembly, taking place at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, Italy, 10th to 15th September 2019. The idea for this Assembly first emerged in 2017 and has developed since then through numerous pre-Assemblies of youth in various locations around the world.
Why this Youth Assembly?
“It’s because we feel that ‘we are’ the Focolare Movement. It’s part of us. Many young people had expressed the desire to meet together and talk about issues important to our generation. At the same time, Focolare members older than us were asking how we view the Movement and the specific contribution we as young people can make today to become ever more dedicated to the cause of a united world. We ourselves identified the main topics to be covered by the Assembly. We’ve researched dynamic engaging methods to enable the young people present to express themselves freely while sharing “an experience of God”.
Who’s taking part?
There will be 200 young people, representing all continents (67 countries): Youth for a United World, young members of the Parish and Diocesan Movements, Seminarians (known as ‘Gens’) belonging to the Focolare Movement and young religious and consecrated men and women in formation (known as ‘GenRe’). So this is an innovative development for the Focolare – to bring together in this Assembly representatives of all the different youth expressions within the Movement. To facilitate the spirit of collaboration, a preparatory commission was formed in November 2018, comprising 15 people from the different youth wings in various parts of the world, most being aged under 30, with just a few older people too.
What will be discussed in the Assembly?
We thought the best way to ascertain the thoughts and desires of our young people around the world was through a questionnaire. In the preparatory Commission we drew up 4 questions asking young people to describe two characteristics of someone identifying as a young Focolare member; to indicate 2 strong points and 2 things they would like to change in the Movement, giving reasons; to reflect on how to ensure the young people’s voice is heard within the Focolare Movement; to identify priorities for the forthcoming six years. No less than 7,300 responses came in! We felt the weight of responsibility as we collated all this input. From reading it all, we were able to produce a resource for the pre-assemblies around the world, which also nominated their own regional representatives. We then incorporated the feedback from these preliminary meetings into a working document for the main Assembly. It presents proposals, pointers and new perspectives on the international Assembly’s four central themes: formation and accompanying; going outwards; the identity of Focolare youth; the role of Focolare youth as protagonists.
Now we’re all ready to be amazed and surprized by our Assembly! It will certainly provide a strong new impetus to go forward towards fulfilling Jesus’ dream: “That all may be one” (John 17:21), as we give our own contribution to the building up of a more united world.
Anna Lisa Innocenti