WELCOME TO YOUR HOUSE
Madrid, August 12, 2011
In the chapel and sharing prayer. Thus began the reception of 1,390 pilgrims who today arrived in Madrid to participate in the Vincentian Youth Gathering. After traveling with much effort and for many hours and many miles, we have all arrived here. The important question now is: what have we brought in our backpacks?
One of the hundreds of young people who arrived in Madrid explained to us his motive for his presence here: We want to share our faith with the members of the Vincentian Family. We want to take advantage of these days in order to deepen within us the roots of the Vincentian charism and we want to live in community. One of the many Daughters of Charity explained: We need and we want to share our faith in Christ and our faith in the Church.
During the time of the Vincentian Youth Gathering and the celebration of World Youth Day 1,737 young people will gather here in Madrid: 164 volunteers and 1,573 pilgrims. The largest language group is composed of those young women and men who speak Spanish (more than 500 pilgrims and volunteers). They are followed by the English speaking group (350), then the group from Brazil and Portugal (230) and in last place but no less important are those who speak Italian (100)
Sevilla, Buenos Aires, Taiwan or Zambia … the distance is relative and not very important at the present time. All have come here willing to live these days to the fullest and willing to take advantage of all the different activities. The expectations and the hopes enable us to forget the tiredness and the rain that greeted many of the pilgrims. The storm that cast its shadow over Madrid was not able to dampen the spirit that these young people have brought here to Madrid from their native homelands. The time that has been shared with others leads one to the conclusion that it was worth all the effort that was needed to arrive here.
To be and not simply appear to be
August 13, 2011, Madrid
With the words: to be and not simply appear to be the Vincentian Youth Gathering began. During this weekend almost 1,500 members of the Vincentian Family will gather here in Madrid. We began with prayer in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and this time of prayer involved global participation: people from France, Span, Germany, Italy, people from Brazil, Argentina … almost 50 different nationalities were represented … young people whose center is their faith in Christ and whose primary support is participation in the Vincentian charism.
The Father General of the Congregation of the Mission, Gregory Gay, inaugurated the gathering with a presentation in which he exhorted, in a radical manner, the young women and men to serve the poor: Young people should feel an authentic pride to be part of a Family that is so needed in our world. It would be nice if the Vincentian Family were not needed! It would be nice if we disappeared because there was a lack of work! But this will only occur when the poor live with dignity and in the best of cases … when there are no longer any poor people … I ask, are the poor living with dignity? Are there poor people on this earth? If you say “yes” then these poor people need the Good News of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. This, my sisters and brothers, is our mission as a Family. Therefore, to be Vincentian is to embrace an identity that leads us out into the midst of the world.
Warmly greeted by Father General, our community prayer continued with hymns and we began to take up the theme that would be our concern throughout the day: to be and not simply appear to be. Through a “happening” the young men and women discovered that in life we can have two faces and that we must present ourselves as one, whole person, with a personality, with strengths and weaknesses that we must accept. “Do we allow ourselves to be guided by God?” … that was the important question. Surrounded by a large group of mimes with their white hands and white faces, each one of us examined and looked at the face mask that we had just received and that we had to wear throughout the day. The objective: the mask symbolized the different faces that each one of us uses throughout our life.
Therefore, throughout the day we reflected on different realities: are we transparent? Do we act in distinct ways depending on the place where we are and the image we want to present? The challenge is clear: we cannot present a double image and therefore our Vincentian image must also be one.