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Inter-religious meeting of Young People, at Assisi

04/12/2006: Italy

Between the 4th and the 8th November, the Inter-Religious Meeting of Young People took place at Assisi, organised on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace which started on the 27th October 1986. Lucas Pydd Nechi, pastoral animator of the Marist College of Curitiba was the representative of the young Catholics of Brazil. Here is his chronicle.

Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II had the valiant idea of inviting the main leaders of the great religious traditions to a meeting at Assisi, land of Saint Francis, and there they prayed together, each one with his own beliefs, for peace in the world. The importance of this meeting in 1987 was so great that from there arose the call “The spirit of Assisi”, as a representation of the effort of all religions in constructing a more harmonious world.
Now the spirit of Assisi has been felt again, with the presence of one hundred young people from fourteen religions, who shared unique experiences and efforts in the name of peace. Delegated from the Marist college of Santa Maria de Curitiba, I was there with many things to say on the way of building peace and an experience of concrete spirituality, that of Marist Youth Ministry.

We spent the 4th, 5th, 6th and the 7th November at Assisi. I had the opportunity of meeting many young people who are examples of the principal role of young people in the most varied of religious cultures and expressions of the entire world. We shared projects for peace and solidarity, we learnt things about the beautiful life of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare, his first follower; we experienced the spirit of Assisi in the holy places where he was born.

During our whole stay in this beautiful locality, we constructed a message for the young people of the world, founded on what we were sharing. I must highlight the night of cultural presentations, when each country was able to express its culture. I can assure you that I tried to represent Brazil with Michèle, the young girl form Porto Alegre representing in the meeting the Christian Association of Children. We sang and danced, showing that we were not professional or very co-ordinated, but clearly showing that the Brazilians know how to have fun and live without shame of being happy.

Then on the 8th November at Rome came the moment we were all waiting for. Duly dressed in accord with our respective cultures, we left for Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican for the audience with Pope Benedict XVI. In a pleasant morning of prayers, we felt very close to the Holy Father, who blessed our meeting during his talk and with us all the youth of the world. Even without giving it directly into his hands, I was able to pass on to the Pope a letter form our students of Marist Youth Ministry. Undoubtedly it was a unique moment in which at the same time I was able to nourish my faith and try the best way possible to unite all the hearts of the youth of Brazil in this place.

After the meeting I was able to spend some days in the Marist General House in Rome. This house really overflows with Marist charism. Finally, after so many distinct experiences of faith I was able to recognise the importance of having a consolidated Christian and Marist IDENTITY. I return to my country with the challenge that there is much to construct on behalf of peace, but with the certitude that what we live in our pastoral work with the young people of our respective places is something unique and highly precious, principally in what concerns our affectivity and Marist tenderness.

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