Spain : First International Meeting for Young Consecrated Persons
From the 15th to the 19th of September the First World Meeting for Young Consecrated Women and Men, having as theme "Awakening the world: Gospel, Prophecy and Hope", was held in Rome.
Those invited to it comprised all the young religious in formation and those with up to ten years of final vows. There were about 6,000 participants from some 126 countries and over 500 Religious Congregations.
Within that crowd, there were three LSA: Lucía Uceda and Patience Maphashi (temporary-professed in the communities of Seville and Cartagena in Spain) and Charo Martín (a finally-professed sister from the community of Cartagena, Spain). Lucia, Patience and Charo seized the opportunity to visit our sisters in Italy.
On the evening of the 15th of September we began with a prayer vigil in St Peter’s Square, accompanied by hymns from Taizé. It began with a procession of fifty consecrated persons who carried a lighted candle, a symbol of the fifty years that have passed since Vatican II. The next three days were devoted to exploring the core points of the Consecrated Life: Listening to the call, At the heart of Fraternity and Hopes of the world. Those days were divided into three main events, with a different dynamic, and were in different places:
- The morning, devoted to Listening, was spent in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. It was a period for talks dealing with the themes mentioned above with times for questions. We were delighted with the depth and the simplicity of the talks and we verified how our recent Chapters and the intuition of our charism are in harmony with the present time in the Church and the world.
- After the break for the meal, the afternoon was the occasion to return, sharing in language groups that were scattered all over Rome in churches, religious houses etc. The three of us were in different groups and it was a very enriching experience. With very different charisms being brought together in this way we had the positive experience of a fluid and spontaneous dialogue concerning our experience of God, the possibilities and difficulties of intergenerational and intercultural community life, … the mission we are carrying out, the proposals that can be glimpsed etc.
- The evening, in order to Celebrate and Testify, began with the Eucharist bringing together various language groups. Afterwards, there was a choice between different propositions: Paths of Beauty, of Charity, of Adoration, ranging from a guided visit of the Sistine Chapel (which we did of course!) to visiting reception centres for immigrants, social dining halls etc., or remaining in prayer in chapels that had been prepared for that. On the evening of the 18th there was a type of special vigil in which art and testimonies were mingled.
The morning of the 19th was reserved for the dialogue with Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Dicastory for the Consecrated Life and Monsignor José Rodrigueza Carballo, the secretary. Both were present every day, bringing clarity to the questions that were raised in a simple and very fraternal way. The atmosphere was one of great liberty and familiarity. We give thanks to God for this diverse Church, simple and informal.
We concluded with the Eucharist in the basilica of St Peter and ended the night with a vigil at the Coliseum. It was a special moment of being sent, of taking up again the strength of the apostles, recalling those who followed Jesus of Nazareth with their whole life. Yes, it was a foundational experience of the Gospel, of Church and of hope.
A very special time was the audience with Pope Francis. In the vastness of that hall his closeness was incredibly real. What’s more, you can imagine our emotion on hearing, ’live’, that he was recalling the LSA. We were glued to our seats, all keyed up and thanking the Lord for the life of all Little Sisters and especially for our Argentinean sisters, but also for all the Christians who proclaim Jesus Christ with their life in all the neighbourhoods of the world, in daily life, with so many simple gestures of service. We wrote to him thanking him for his words on behalf of a Church for the poor, a servant of encounter.
The talks, the audience and the vigils for prayer and art can be found at giovaniconsacrati.chemin-neuf.fr.
Lucía, Charo, Patience