On the 50th anniversary of the founding of the parish of san Giovanni Battista [St. John the Baptist] in Sant’Eufemia (Italy), the Lord has blessed this community with the birth of the first VMY group in Calabria.

We are really lucky because we have also complied with the invitation of our Superior General during the jubilee year of the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism, when he invited us to attract new members to the Vincentian Family. In our small parish community this call has been materialized with the birth of a group of pre-adolescents who want to live in simplicity the charism of St. Vincent.

On April 28 and 29, the parish of san Giovanni Battista in Santa Eufemia hosted a group of young people from the Vincentian Marian Youth groups of Naples and Catania, invited to live the weekend with the newly created group of VMY of Lamezia; it was a time to share, to pray and also to have a lot of fun. The meeting began on Saturday afternoon, when the members of the various groups congregated, without paying attention to the age differences between the oldest and the youngest, fascinated by the team work and the interaction. The young people have worked together in a dynamic meeting, analyzing and following the steps that lead to holiness, guided by the words of the exhortation of Pope Francis “Gaudete et Exsultate.” There is nothing more current than sanctity and the youth and adolescents of VMY have understood it very well: we can all be holy, even if the path to holiness is not simple. The steps that lead to holiness are Love (which is the point of departure and arrival), Freedom, Confidence, Listening, Forgiveness, Welcome and Hope that bring us back to Love, an indispensable condition of life. The formation was followed by a time of celebration with games and music, although the true feast was held at the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday 29, in which the children and young people of the new group of VMY Lamezia received the blue handkerchief, stamp of those who has chosen to travel the path of charity, guided by the light of Mary and the actions of St. Vincent de Paul. The national president of VMY, Alessandro Guariniello, delivered the handkerchiefs, shared with enthusiasm with the children at all times during the two days. Not only the children received the handkerchief, but also the animators Valentina, Barbara, Christina and Mariarosa who decided to say yes and collaborate in the creation and construction of this group made of living stones: young people, without whom none of this would be possible.

All this has been possible thanks to the animators of the Catania group, Emilia and Martina, who conveyed to the animators and young people the joy of being part of the group and the experience of their many years in VMY, of which we can only learn to never give as defeated. Thanks to the passionate Sister Imma and the charismatic Father Mario, spiritual advisors who are important for the entire VMY. Thanks also to Fr. Giuseppe Martinelli, parish priest who believed that creating this group in the parish of San Juan Bautista was indispensable, he believed in it and now here he is, JMV Lamezia was born!

April 29, 2018 marks the birth of the Vincentian Marian Youth in Lamezia, the first testimony in all of Calabria. This date is a great starting point for the path of charity and brotherhood perhaps not simple, as is the path to holiness, but certainly less dangerous if shared with other brothers. “Let us strive, therefore, to be sensitive to the suffering and misery of our neighbor.” These words of Saint Vincent invite us to offer our eyes, ears, hands and hearts to our brother, to live a holy and charitable life made of love and concrete actions. Thus, the nascent group of JMV Lamezia, now full of determination and enthusiasm, promises to grow more and more to carry forward the message of St. Vincent: charity is love.

Barbara Milone

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