(Originally published on omiworld.org)
On April 25, 1813, Eugene de Mazenod began the Christian Youth Association in Aix, to bring youth closer to Christ and to form them in the Christian faith. Our Founder accompanied and cared for this Association, and its members shared the house in Aix when, three years later, in 1816, the first community of the Missionaries of Provence began their great adventure. This Association was so important to the Founder that in the rules written by him, he asked that there be such an Association “in all the houses of the Institute.”
From July 18-22, 2013, we will celebrate in Aparecida (Brazil) the Oblate program in preparation for World Youth Day, 200 years after the Founder created the Youth Association! We believe this to be a blessed coincidence. The Province of Brazil invites us to participate; they are preparing this program with great enthusiasm and energy. For several months, an image of Our Lady of Aparecida graces the meeting room of the General Council. It is the same image that the Provincial of Brazil, Fr. Rubens Pedro CABRAL, sent to all the Oblate Provinces of Latin America and some other regions to accompany our journey to Brazil. Our Mother helps us to follow in the footsteps of Eugene, in his passionate vision for the mission with youth. We too, the members of the Central Government community, would like there to be an enthusiastic mission with youth in every Oblate community. Many Oblate Units have stated that the mission with youth is one of their missionary priorities. So we would like to confirm this as a priority for our whole Congregation.
Since the year 2000, and in an ever more intense manner, the Oblate preparation for World Youth Day has become a big family celebration and also a strong impetus for our mission with youth. In recent years, many Units have seen the start of new missionary initiatives; some found the inspiration to begin something new; others felt the challenge to renew their mission. Little by little, the young people themselves were asking to be part of our mission and family, by showing their enthusiasm for St. Eugene de Mazenod. We have personally witnessed this enthusiasm. It seemed as if Eugene was in their midst, renewing their joy and hope as he did 200 years ago with the youth of Aix.
We want to invite each and every Oblate to direct his steps, in one way or another, to Aparecida 2013. Not everyone can be physically present but we can be there in spirit. We also invite all those who consider themselves to be part of this great family, born of the heart of Eugene de Mazenod. We all have something to contribute. Many youth are making great efforts and great sacrifices to travel to Brazil. Experience itself so far tells us that it is worth it. This same experience tells us that if there is good preparation, participation in the program is very fruitful. And also, when things are prepared in advance, this can solve almost all problems. It is important to get in touch with the Provincial of Brazil, Fr. Rubens Pedro Cabral (
), to begin to prepare and provide for all the details.
In addition, we would like that there to be present in Aparecida at least one Oblate from each of our Units, even if they do not come accompanied by a group of young persons. Father General and other members of his Council who will be present wish to have a meeting for a few hours with all the Oblates present at Aparecida, to seek together new ways for our mission with youth. After the Congregation’s Congress on the Mission with Youth held in Australia in 2008, we believe that the time has arrived to relaunch this mission with renewed vigor. It seems to us that Eugene de Mazenod himself is moving us forward in this initiative and that this could be the best way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Youth Association. WE’LL SEE YOU IN APARECIDA!
In the name of the Central Government Community,
Luis Ignacio ROIS ALONSO, OMI.