A different time

The summer of the youth for the youth

Events and initiatives on the beach, during traditional festivals, in summer resorts and artistic cities will focus on raising youth awareness of God in a different way, during their summer holidays by European Churches. Follows a presentation of the experience in Italy and France. France: a powerful word. “Surfing and proclaiming the Gospel?” Guillaume Léonardi, 32, says there’s nothing strange about it. “At the beginning the spirit of God glided on water”, said the young man from Paris who combines his passion for surf with the yearning to bear witness to his faith. The evangelization initiative “Surf and pray” was born three years ago. “Evangelizing one’s passions means experiencing God’s presence in our most passionate endeavours”, Léonardi said. He explains that with a friend he contacted the priest of Royan (Charente – Maritime), who received them both. The third edition of the initiative on the beaches of Rayon started off on July 18 in conjunction with some 40 “missionaries”. The diocese of Nanterre promotes the youth to youth evangelization week, which commenced Sunday July 25. Approximately one hundred young Catholics are expected to convene in Damgnan with the auxiliary bishop of Nanterre Msgr. Nicolas Brouwet. It is an “ever-growing movement”; “an increasing number of young Catholics are becoming aware of their responsibility in Gospel proclamation”, explained Fr. Jean Marie Crespin, parish priest of Sainte-Cécile (Boulogne-Billancourt) and chaplain of the site. “If the Church doesn’t have a powerful word to spread in a world marked by the quest for meaning, then what’s her purpose? Today – states Fr. Crespin – Catholics no longer fear the word ‘evangelization'”. In the meantime in the Pays Basque a group of students are ready to experience “the missionary adventure”, encouraged by Msgr. Marc Aillet, bishop of Bayonne – Lescar – Oloron. Famous for their excesses, the feasts of Bayonne, due to open this week, every year attract a large number of young people, offering, states 23-year-old Laetitia de Saizieu, “a favourable terrain for dialogue”. “We cope with lost youth”, she said. “I am impressed by the fact that they wish to talk with us. They are attracted by our presence”. The itinerating festival “Anuncio” will take place at the end of August For the third year running. The event brings together several hundred young people, called to “engage in a spiritual dialogue” with their peers on vacation in tourist sites such as Paris, Lyon, Cannes or Saint-Tropez. At the end of the mission the archbishop Cardinal André Vingt-Trois in Paris will receive the volunteers. Italy: “morning sentinels”. “Discovering and re-discovering the faith through the intensity of the first proclamation, as the apostles did at the time of Jesus”, is the commitment addressed during the five-day “Summer Festival 2010” organized in July in the city of Pescara by the “Morning sentinels”, (the youth evangelisation project of Italian dioceses) in cooperation with the diocesan office for the Pastoral Care of the Young. In these days some 200 young people aged 20-35 gathered on the promenade of Pescara to undertake “an evangelization-awareness process directed to the youth in leisure areas such as beaches and clubs”. A tent 32 meters by 22 installed near the city’s “Acapulco Beach” lido serves as a church from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Also the very young are ready to “rally” holding the Gospel in an unusual environment – albeit familiar to the young generations – nightlife. Following the Lenten Saturday nights experience across the city and in churches of the historic centre where young Catholics drew close to their peers, invited them to prayer and reflection with the initiative “A light in the night”, on July 2-3, on the occasion of the Pink Night, from 0.30 to 5 a.m. the youth groups of the diocese animated the adoration of the St. Mary Help of Christians parish church, at a short distance from the water-line of Marina Centro. The youth welcomed their peers in the tent set up outside and gathered in the streets to propose a moment of prayer in the church where priests were present for confessions and talks. “This idea springs from the wish to bring the message of Mary and Jesus to the youth through the important tool of music”. Fr. Roberto Fiscer, young vice-parish priest of Arenzano (Genoa), thus motivated his first single titled “Io vi amo”, recently released by Hit Record and described as “a Christian-disco hymn”. In fact, the single combines disco rhythm and music with Christian-inspired lyrics and is to be viewed in the framework of the first “Christian disco” of the diocese of Genoa inaugurated this summer by the young priest who previously worked as dj on cruise ships. The disco is open on Wednesday evenings at the San Pietro di Arenzano lido. “Jesus never hesitated in reaching out to others. He certainly would also have called on the youth in discos”, the priest said.

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