The love of God, as manifest in the human heart, gives birth to an idea, an attitude, a life change.
We are gathered here at the 2nd Latin American Congress of Spiritan Missionary Youth (JEM) in Governador Valadares city in Minas Gerais, from the 23rd to the 27th of January 2013, with the theme: “Awaken and Liberate” and the slogan: “Youth, eager to live the liberating mission indicated by Christ”.
We are delegates from Spiritan communities coming from various locations: Cabo Frio/Rio de Janeiro; Mangalot and Planalto/São Paulo; Brasilia/DF; Contagem and Governador Valadares/MG; also present are Spiritan missionaries and Spiritan students from various countries: Brazil, Holland, Ireland, Haiti, Portugal, Cape Verde, Paraguay and Germany. We were able to count on the strong support of the Governador Valadares Lay Spiritan Associates, who welcomed us warmly and with others helped in the organisation of the congress.
We bring with us the enthusiasm, experiences and expectations of the Spiritan charism that we live in our parishes. We are thirsty in our search to broaden the knowledge that will help us deepen our understanding of our reality, because this will help us to journey with greater missionary passion.
Blessed hour, in January 2010, during the last UCAL (Union of Latin American Circumscriptions) general meeting of the Spiritan Family, when youth was chosen as a priority, thus lighting the flame of JEM – Youth Movement of the congregation of the Holy Spirit, under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Latin America. Since then, we have journeyed side by side, attempting to draw closer to the spirituality and charism of the founders, Claude Poullart des Places and Francis Libermann.
Many growing pains have been met in parishes since the beginning of JEM and were looked at during the congress, such as a lack of: welcome by pastoral groups, perseverance of the youth, support and encouragement, among others. These difficulties have not discouraged us nor made us give up, because we know that they are normal, given that this is a new project and we don’t yet know it’s true identity. We believe that, amidst the thorns, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to be true fighters in the defence of solidarity and charity, persevering in faith, committed to our neighbours and believing that youth can construct a missionary work and be strengthened by its continuity.
We are in a process of growth, the maturing of ideas and motivation to engage in works that are ever more important for our communities and society. In this perspective, activities in spirituality undertaken in this 2nd Congress; prayer times, Eucharistic celebrations, a vigil; as well formation for our work, the exchange of experiences between groups and the discovery of gifts and talents during workshops (theatre, music, dance, bodily expression and mission), have been moments that have awakened strong emotions, especially because we perceive that evangelization can be done in innumerable ways, using the different gifts given to us by God.
This is important, since as Young Missionaries we must, motivated our faith, first look at the social and cultural context in which we live, using our creativity in the struggle to change the principle problems that are present in the social and religious questions of our day.
We saw that in post-modern culture a person is more individualistic and has difficulties in assuming long term commitments. Also, young people today find themselves in a social context marked by violence, poverty, marginalization and discredited, giving rise to different fears (unemployment and early death, among others); this context demands effective government and missionary action, and poses for us significant challenges. We cannot forget that in these days youth live in an era of great technological advances, being constantly connected to the internet, which can also be used as an instrument to strengthen mission.
So, inspired by the Holy Spirit, by the faithful example of Mary and the lived experience of our founders, we feel that we cannot just have a personal experience of God and remain at peace within our own little world. We are called, as JEM, to go out and meet people proclaiming the Gospel in a creative form, continuing in the steps of Jesus Christ.
This desire and enthusiasm was strengthened by the personal testimonies of brother Mariano Espinoza Sala, who works in the refugee camps of Tanzania; by the lay Spiritan Ana Paula da Silva, member of the Spiritan team in Boliva; by the missionary experience of Spiritan student Mario Cabral among the Pokot, Kenya; by Fr. Hugo Ventura, in the movement Youth without Frontiers, in Portugal; by missionaries Sister Francisca Duarte Tavares and Fr. Aurélian Judicael Ngouambéké in Brazil. Noteworthy is the love and dedication of these missionaries for the people among whom they engage in their work of evangelization, being themselves evangelized through their shared and lived experiences.
So we the members of JEM leave the 2nd Congress animated and ready to respond to the call of God, committing ourselves in a permanent way to missionary work, without letting this flame go out. For this we need the support of all the Spiritan family, consecrated members and Lay Spiritan Associates, so that together we can fight in defence of human rights, for justice, for love and peace, with one heart and one soul.
The delegates at the 2nd Congress.