The international site of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul post the following information on their participation in World Youth Day.
The Vincentian Youth Meetings started at night on the 18th July. A thousand members representing 22 countries throughout the world gathered in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, before going onto Rio for the World Youth Days.
Those present were welcomed by Sister Rizomar Figueiredo, the meeting coordinator. Father Alexandre Franco Nahass – Spiritual Adviser of the National Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul proposed some time for spiritual reflection. Representatives from the 22 countries were invited up on stage under the shape of a giant cross (symbol of the WYD) where they received a pair of sandals (a symbol of the pilgrim’s day).
To get together, to share and to reflect together
Vincentian meetings enable young people to share their experiences, to discover new ways of action or gain new insights. Catechesis scheduled during the weekend invite the attendants to reflect together on issues close to their faith. In order to facilitate the exchanges, members were divided into 3 linguistic groups: English, Portuguese and Spanish. One of the catechesis, led by Dr Michael Thio, focussed on new forms of poverty. Our President General started by explaining that the new poverty is a worldwide phenomenon: 80 % of the population lives on less than $10 per day. In richer countries, new poverty may take on various forms such as social exclusion, loneliness, addiction. He also called to mind the action of the SSVP in 149 countries, particularly through systemic change such as a new way of working “with the charity network that embraces the world”. Other topics of discussion were addressed such as “the common commitment: let’s go to the poor”. The Portuguese group led a workshop starting from the quote: “Whoever has a dream is still young”.
Another catechesis addressed the topic of “Charity as an evangelistic force”, led by Marileide Barros (AIC), Yasmine Cajuste (JMV) and by Father José Luis de Fina.
Frederic Ozanam, intercessor of the WYD
The main founder of the SSVP has been, more than ever, at the heart of reflection, prayer and the workshops for young Vincentians. Designated as the intercessor of the World Youth Days (which began just after the meeting), his memory was also discussed at the Saturday morning prayer. His now famous wish to “embrace the world in a network of charity” was symbolized by a huge net under which all attendants were gathered together, uniting them in a moment of joy and emotion.
Events and visits
The programme of meetings also included events around sport or music including dance shows. The attendants also had the opportunity to visit various works of charity in Belo Horizonte. The President General took part in two visits: to a retirement home run by the Council of Contagem; and Saint Joseph House, a refuge for the homeless. Whilst the Youth were getting ready to go to Rio Janeiro for the WYD, Michael Thio gave a lecture on the action of the SSVP around the globe, before continuing on his trip around South America.