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Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco : Homily at the Sagrada Família

31 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Texts, 30.03

Cari Confratelli nell’Episcopato e nel Sacerdozio
Cari Fratelli e Sorelle nel Signore
Cari Amici

  1. È motivo di grande gioia essere in questa splendida chiesa per celebrare la Santa Eucaristia, sorgente e culmine della vita cristiana. Il Simposio Europeo dei Giovani sull’accompagnamento – che il Consiglio delle Conferenze Episcopali d’Europa (CCEE) ha fortemente voluto – vuole essere un’occasione di fede e di fraternità: di fede per incontrare il Signore, di fraternità per comunicarci le esperienze della vita spirituale, della ricerca vocazionale, e della presenza cristiana negli ambienti di vita. Siete venuti da lontano e qui rappresentate i giovani dell’intero Continente in un’ora della storia che è un cambiamento d’epoca, come ricorda il Santo Padre Francesco. Al Papa esprimiamo il nostro affetto pieno di gratitudine, e assicuriamo la nostra filiale preghiera. Un saluto particolare va all’Arcivescovo di questa Chiesa, che ci accoglie cordialmente, e a S. Eminenza il Cardinale Lorenzo Baldisseri, Segretario Generale del Sinodo. Il nostro Simposio guarda anche al prossimo appuntamento sinodale che – com’è noto – avrà come tema proprio i giovani.
  1. Il Vangelo ascoltato ci mette di fronte a Gesù, Figlio di Dio e Redentore del mondo. Come per la gente di allora, così oggi è necessario guardare a Lui con occhi limpidi, cioè senza pregiudizi o pretese. Questo significa essere disposti a misurare la nostra vita sulla sua parola che è verità e amore, non sulle nostre idee, impulsi, abitudini. Solo così riusciamo a vedere Gesù per quello che è, non per quello che vorremmo che fosse: “voi non avete mai ascoltato la sua voce – dice il Signore – né avete mai visto il suo volto, e la sua parola non rimane in voi; infatti non credete”.

Ci incontriamo così con una prima domanda: desidero veramente vedere il volto di Cristo, così com’è? Il suo è il volto dell’amore di Dio, ma l’amore è così difficile! Siamo fatti per amare ed essere amati, ma è così impegnativo, perché si tratta di lasciare il timone della nostra vita a Lui. Apri, Gesù, i nostri cuori, dà luce ai nostri occhi!

  1. Il Vangelo ci fa fare un secondo passo. Spesso, al fondo della fatica nella vita cristiana sta il desiderio di ricevere “gloria gli uni dagli altri”. Che cosa vuol dire? Vuol dire cercare il consenso altrui, la lode, l’approvazione anche a prezzo della verità: la verità di Gesù, del suo meraviglioso mistero, le sue parole di vita, le esigenze del suo amore. Allora i nostri occhi si velano, e non riescono più a riconoscere il volto bello del Signore: la realtà interiore diventa opaca, si deforma; si adatta il Vangelo alla mentalità mondana, come ricorda Papa Francesco nell’Evangelii Gaudium.

Nasce una seconda domanda: cerco in modo esasperato il consenso degli altri, ho paura del giudizio, della critica, di essere isolato dal gruppo, di essere considerato fuori dal tempo? Sono libero dal pensiero unico dominante? La libertà non è arroganza e credersi migliore, ma sapersi graziato dalla misericordia di Dio, rinnovato ogni giorno dal suo Spirito.

  1. Infine, non possiamo dimenticare che siamo in questa splendida chiesa dedicata alla Sagrada Familia, e che stiamo celebrando la Messa della famiglia. Da questo grembo siamo nati: i nostri genitori non ci hanno scelti, hanno voluto un figlio; Dio, invece, ci ha scelti e ci ha chiamati per nome, ci ha disegnati sul palmo della sua mano. In questo essere conosciuti da sempre, sta la nostra dignità inviolabile, il nostro incomparabile valore, la bellezza della nostra vita in qualunque situazione si trovi. La famiglia è scuola di umanità e di fede, la prima palestra di virtù umane e cristiane, dove impariamo ad amare essendo amati, ad avere fiducia in noi, negli altri, nella vita. Impariamo ad essere liberi, ad averci in mano, ad essere signori di noi stessi. Impariamo ad essere responsabili, sentiamo di poter contare sugli altri e che gli altri contano su di noi. Impariamo la bellezza dei legami e dei limiti che ci salvano dalla presunzione e dall’arroganza, e che ci aprono agli altri per chiedere e offrire ascolto, parola, servizio d’amore. Impariamo la bellezza delle cose quotidiane. Impariamo a guardare verso il Cielo per poter vedere la terra. La famiglia è il riflesso visibile di Dio Comunione, di Dio Trinità: rende presente il suo amore nel mondo.

Si fa avanti una terza domanda: amo la mia famiglia? Sono incantato dal dono ricevuto? Le difficoltà ci sono ovunque, anche l’amore ha le sue fatiche, le sue delusioni; ma io mi sento parte attiva, oppure sono spettatore indifferente? Una famiglia che prega non sarà mai disperata, e nelle prove troverà sempre una via di superamento: prego con i miei genitori?

Cari amici, la Famiglia di Nazaret ci benedica e vi guidi per scoprire la volontà del Signore sulla vostra vita: solo nella sua volontà sarà la vostra gioia. Non abbiate paura: Lui chiede tutto, ma vi dà tutto, e il tutto di Dio è sconfinato! Il piccolo Gesù, la Santa Vergine, San Giuseppe, ci siano compagni di strada. Come ci esorta Sant’Agostino, vogliamo camminare cantando, non perché senza difficoltà e prove, ma perché sappiamo di non essere soli: Cristo è il viandante sempre accanto, e la Chiesa è la nostra casa.

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Fr. Michel Remery: Accompaniment of young people through beauty

30 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Texts, 30.03

Throughout the ages, the Church has had a special concern for beauty, art, architecture, and liturgy, for these are very powerful ways of accompanying people on their path of faith. The very concept of faith is that it goes beyond the concrete, visible reality of every day. Man has been created with a will, intellect and soul, taught Saint Thomas. All of these need to be addressed if we wish to help people advance in their understanding of God. In this context, the word “understanding” goes beyond the purely intellectual, involving also our more emotive side. Words alone, or intellectual logic alone, or heartwarming experiences alone are not enough to grasp something of the very being of God. On the one hand, God cannot be fully explained and described using our intellect in logical reasoning. He always remains an ineffable mystery to us, for God is always greater, as Saint Anselm reminded us. On the other hand, there are ways in which we can approach the very heart of that mystery. In doing so, we advance on our path of faith towards God.

Beauty, art, architecture, and liturgy, are not just poetry for the illiterate. They are powerful ways in which the presence and essence of God is expressed and experienced, whilst letting him be the ultimately ineffable being he is. In this sense, they are also powerful “tools” for those responsible for the accompaniment of people. This includes young people of today, for although the number of visits to museums and the theatre may be in decline, beauty, art, architecture and even liturgy speak a powerful language that can be understood without much prior explanation. These “tools’ speak on their own: they are there to be experienced and thus help the person to advance on their path with God. This corresponds with an important element of accompaniment, where the person who is accompanying needs to withdraw from time to time, and ‘let the Creator deal directly with the creature’, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola said. Obviously, this does not mean that the one accompanying needs only to walk behind, and respond to what is experienced. There are times where a clear lead is needed. Accompaniment means also spiritual guidance in the sense of helping to see beyond, of walking ahead where necessary. When young people are given just a few key elements to better read and understand beauty, art, architecture, and liturgy, they can better appreciate their deeper message, and let these “tools” help them to draw nearer to the mystery of God.

Liturgy has a bridge function between man and God. Whilst the form of the liturgy is of human making, its essence comes directly from God. For example, the way we celebrate the Eucharist is the product of a development throughout the ages, but the essence of what Jesus told his disciples to do in memory of himself never changed. The liturgy is a precious moment where heaven and earth momentarily come very close, as powerfully expressed in the singing of the Sanctus. The liturgy speaks to all the human senses: for example the hearing of words and music, the smelling of incense and perfumed oil, the sight of beauty and symbols, the touching and kissing of the cross or relics, the taste of bread and wine. The liturgy addresses the entirety of our human being, just as we have been created by God. He knows better than we what we need and what is important in our lives. In the liturgy, art and architecture play their highest role: here the ideas they transpire are funneled towards one single message, the love of God for every human being and his desire that they all will respond positively to his invitation.

In his design for the basilica of the Sagrada Família, the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí intended to create a building that would both bring honour to God in every detail, and at the same time express the grandeur of his loving plan of salvation to all who visited it. In doing so, Gaudì created a monumental structure of evangelization. Being a devout Christian himself, he wished for others to encounter the love of God and he intended his work to contribute to this. So, even today, the tourist looking up at one of the towers of the basilica inadvertently praises God when they read the letters “Sanctus, Sanctus”. The visitor who takes time to contemplate one of the facades, will recognise that the story it tells goes beyond his or her experience on earth. And whoever enters the nave, will be struck by the light, the organic forms, the grandeur, and the natural way in which the eye is led towards the central place in this building, which is the altar space where the liturgy is celebrated. The strongest way in which beauty, art, and architecture come together in this masterwork of Gaudí is when participating in one of the great liturgies celebrated in the basilica. At that moment all comes together: whilst each of the senses is being addressed and helps to recognise the presence of God, the architecture as a whole points in only one direction, that of the love of God himself. In this sense, the basilica of the Sagrada Família is a great example of how beauty, art, architecture, and liturgy can be powerful allies in the accompaniment of young people today on their path with God.

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Evangelisation and good practice in the context of the CCEE Symposium on young people in Barcelona

30 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | News Releases, 30.03

The third session of the Symposium on young people taking place in Barcelona (28-31 March) tackled the theme of Evangelisation and focussed on the sharing of experiences and good practice in the spiritual accompaniment of young people to respond freely to Christ’s call.
Accompanying to evangelise

Cardinal Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, began the session with a reflection entitled ‘Evangelisation and good examples of accompaniment’. In his address he stated that “to accompany is the same as to lead the person into the most profound depths of their own being, to discover the presence of a call to truth, the keystone to achieving freedom, which enables us to go beyond ourselves in order to entrust ourselves completely to a mysterious plan of God which brings meaning and significance to personal existence”. Vocations are not based on the qualities one possesses, in fact, it is the contrary: the correspondence to vocation lies in giving value and support to what is already there. To help to discover the primacy of God in our lives and the power of his grace are the means by which we are able to contribute consciously to guiding our existence.

 

Exhibition of good practice

After the break, in one of the cloisters of the meeting-place, there was an exhibition accompanying initiatives undertaken in Europe by youth movements, religious congregations and dioceses and aimed at encouraging the exchange of proposals and suggestions. This exhibition of good practice was organised according to a dual criteria: to be constructive in the accompaniment of young people and to allow them to be repeated in other socio-cultural contexts in the European environment.

Subsequently, some small group work took place, looking towards the Synod on young people which will take place in Rome in October 2018. Participants in the working groups expressed a series of proposals for the Synod. Lunch enabled the exchange of ideas to continue, since the tables were organised on the basis of sector interests (young people, catechesis, university, vocations and teaching).

 

Sagrada Familia: beauty, art, architecture and liturgy

The afternoon session was held at the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, the city of Barcelona’s great religious work realised by the architect Antonio Gaudí, still unfinished although open for worship since 7 November 2010, the date of its consecration by Benedict XVI. In this context, there was a round table discusssion with the participation of Fr Michel Remery, researcher in the Department of Liturgy and Architecture in the School of Catholic Theology in the University of Tilburg; Armand Puig i Tàrrech, Rector of the University Athenaeum Sant Pacià in Barcelona; and Etsuro Sotoo, sculptor of Gaudí’s work.

In his intervention, Fr Michel Remery spoke about the accompaniment of young people through art and architecture and liturgy. “Beauty”, said Fr Michel Remery, “art and architecture, including liturgy, speak a powerful language which can be understood without the need for further explanations. They speak for themselves: they are there to be experienced, and, therefore, to help people to journey along the path towards God”.

After the academic session, a tour of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia was organised, ending at 7.30 p.m. with the celebration of Mass, with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and CCEE President, as the main celebrant.
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Information for the media

Media Office: located in the Pere Tarres room in the Seminary.

Briefing. Friday 30 March at 1100, a briefing with Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of CCEE

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Msgr. Rino Fisichella: Evangelisation and good practices of accompaniment

31 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Texts, 30.03

Ci introduciamo con una considerazione del Documento preparatorio per il prossimo Sinodo, che aiuta ad entrare direttamente nel tema che ci è stato affidato: “Varie ricerche mostrano come i giovani sentano il bisogno di figure di riferimento vicine, credibili, coerenti e oneste, oltre che di luoghi e occasioni in cui mettere alla prova la capacità di relazione con gli altri (sia adulti, sia coetanei) e affrontare le dinamiche affettive. Cercano figure in grado di esprimere sintonia e offrire sostegno, incoraggiamento e aiuto a riconoscere i limiti, senza far pesare il giudizio” (I,2). Quasi a voler dare corpo a questo rilievo, il Documento, quando parla delle “figure di riferimento” sostiene che “Il ruolo di adulti degni di fede, con cui entrare in positiva alleanza, è fondamentale in ogni percorso di maturazione umana e di discernimento vocazionale. Servono credenti autorevoli, con una chiara identità umana, una solida appartenenza ecclesiale, una visibile qualità spirituale, una vigorosa passione educativa e una profonda capacità di discernimento” (II,2).

La descrizione fatta possiede delle indicazioni importanti per entrare più direttamente nel tema dell’accompagnamento; soprattutto perché è richiesto che in questa fase “Si tratta di favorire la relazione tra la persona e il Signore, collaborando a rimuovere ciò che la ostacola” (II,4). La prospettiva di questo accompagnamento diventa ancora più impegnativa nel momento in cui la si colloca nell’orizzonte dell’evangelizzazione, che costituisce la missione peculiare della Chiesa e ne determina la sua stessa natura. La Chiesa vive con l’impegno quotidiano dell’evangelizzazione; se non fosse così verrebbe meno nella sua stessa essenza e priverebbe il mondo della parola di amore e speranza che il Vangelo comporta.

Accompagnare, tra l’altro, richiede un’attenzione del tutto particolare alla persona con cui si fa un tratto di strada insieme. Richiede l’ascolto, e quindi il silenzio necessario perché l’ascolto possa cogliere l’intimo e la profondità di chi parla. In questo contesto, è importante possedere la consapevolezza che quando si cammina insieme ci si accompagna reciprocamente e il movimento, pertanto, non è mai a senso unico. Papa Francesco nella Evangelii gaudium ha un’indicazione importante in proposito, quando scrive: “Uscire verso gli altri per giungere alle periferie umane non vuol dire correre verso il mondo senza una direzione e senza senso. Molte volte è meglio rallentare il passo, mettere da parte l’ansietà per guardare negli occhi e ascoltare, o rinunciare alle urgenze per accompagnare chi è rimasto al bordo della strada.” (Eg 46). Insomma, chi accompagna è anche accompagnato dalla persona che accompagna; e non potrebbe essere altrimenti. Il cammino lo si compie insieme, oppure è destinato ad essere inefficace. Accompagnare nel processo di evangelizzazione, inoltre, pone in primo piano la categoria di testimonianza con tutta la sua valenza significativa. Tornano quasi spontanee alla mente le parole di Paolo VI nella Evangelii nuntiandi: “L’uomo contemporaneo ascolta più volentieri i testimoni che i maestri, o se ascolta i maestri lo fa perché sono dei testimoni” (EN 41).

Insomma, accompagnare non è un percorso a senso unico; esso comporta la saggezza di chi sa di avere una responsabilità per condurre una persona verso la libertà. Ciò significa, rendersi partecipe di un movimento dinamico che permette di coniugare la verità del Vangelo con l’esigenza profonda racchiusa nell’intimo di ogni persona. In altre parole, accompagnare equivale a condurre la persona nel più profondo della propria esistenza, per scoprire la presenza di una chiamata alla verità, chiave di volta per realizzare la libertà, che permette di andare oltre noi stessi per affidarsi pienamente a un piano misterioso di Dio che porta senso e significato all’esistenza personale. Alla fine, siamo posti dinanzi alla scoperta di una vocazione vera, genuina, che spalanca gli orizzonti perché permette di scoprire qualcosa che, rinchiusi in se stessi, non si sarebbe mai neppure immaginato di poter realizzare.

Due icone bibliche

Tra i tanti testi con cui il Nuovo Testamento esprime l’esigenza di trovare persone capaci di accompagnare nella strada dell’annuncio del Vangelo, mi soffermo su due in modo particolare. Più di altri, forse, possono aiutare a comprendere uno stile, tra i tanti proposti, con cui siamo chiamati ad accompagnare in modo significativo i giovani oggi. La scelta della Parola di Dio mi è di particolare aiuto nel trattare questa tematica, soprattutto per sfuggire alle necessarie distinzioni che un tema come questo prevede e impone. Penso, più direttamente, alle condizioni ecclesiali, culturali, sociali che determinano la differenza degli approcci, mentre la Parola di Dio consente di avere un orizzonte propositivo che va oltre questi schemi, perché tocca ognuno nel profondo del proprio cuore e si presenta come un’esperienza universale.

  1. Il primo testo ci riporta alla Lettera agli Ebrei. L’autore sacro ha un’espressione lapidaria che soprattutto dinanzi al tema della “nuova evangelizzazione” non dovrebbe mai coglierci impreparati. Egli scrive: “Gesù Cristo è lo stesso ieri, oggi e sempre” (Eb 13,8). L’annuncio del Vangelo non cambia con il passare dei tempi e delle generazioni. E’ sempre lo stesso, come ai primordi della Chiesa. E, tuttavia, l’autore sacro fa precedere a questa espressione un testo estremamente significativo: “Ricordatevi dei vostri capi, i quali vi hanno annunciato la parola di Dio. Considerando attentamente l’esito finale della loro vita, imitatene la fede” (Eb 13,7). Non siamo lontani dall’interpretazione coerente del testo se lo applichiamo a quanti svolgono il ministero dell’accompagnamento. Chi lo compie, di fatto, possiede un’autorevolezza che viene riconosciuta, e per questo è abilitato ad essere accompagnatore.

A un giovane oggi si potrebbe riferire questo stesso invito che viene dall’autore della Lettera: ricordati di chi ti accompagna! Prima di entrare nel merito del testo, è interessante osservare che il termine “capi” ha un significato particolare in questo specifico versetto. In tutta la Lettera, l’autore sacro fa riferimento ai “capi” chiamandoli normalmente “sacerdoti” o “vescovi”; qui, invece, usa il termine “egoumenoi”. Per comprendere il significato di questo termine è necessario tornare al vangelo di Luca dove Gesù, in risposta alla discussione tra i discepoli su chi fosse il “più grande”, dice: “chi tra voi è più grande diventi come il più giovane, e chi governa come colui che serve… io sto in mezzo a voi come colui che serve” (Lc 22,26-27). Il senso fondativo di chi è “capo” è quello di essere al servizio; ogni altra logica porterebbe fuori dall’orizzonte dell’insegnamento di Gesù. Il primo “servizio” che viene svolto da questi “capi”, comunque, è il ministero della Parola: “vi hanno predicato la parola di Dio”. Il servizio dell’accompagnamento, quindi, è in primo luogo quello di portare la persona all’incontro vivo con la Parola di Dio viva nella vita della Chiesa. La predicazione non è un fenomeno statico, ma dinamico. Essa fa riferimento alla parola che permane come espressione dell’interpellare, del provocare, del narrare, del sostenere, del consolare… insomma, la parola per sua stessa natura è dinamica. Anche quando si trasmette la Parola che era “fin dal principio”, essa è ancorata al Logos cioè alla persona del Figlio di Dio che attraversa i tempi e le culture per entrare in relazione personale con chiunque, nessuno escluso.

Il secondo tratto che emerge dal testo è la considerazione circa lo “stile di vita” dei “capi”. Il loro comportamento (anastojh) è coerente con l’annuncio della Parola; non solo per un momento della vita, ma fino alla fine. C’è un’arte dell’accompagnamento che è scolpita nello stile di vita di chi accompagna. L’accompagnatore, quindi, deve essere espressione di vivere all’ombra della Parola di Dio, perché segna la sua esistenza come spazio vivo che crea la forma del discepolato. L’esempio di passare lungo tempo nell’ascolto, nella meditazione, nello studio della parola di Dio non è un esercizio transitorio, ma impegno di vita che modella l’esistenza fino a renderla trasparente nell’azione dell’esistenza quotidiana.

Se quanto detto finora tocca in modo speciale la persona dell’accompagnatore, un altro versetto di questo stesso capitolo della Lettera agli Ebrei, fa emergere in maniera forte lo stile di chi è accompagnato: “Obbedite ai vostri capi e state loro sottomessi, perché essi vegliano su di voi e devono renderne conto, affinché lo facciano con gioia e non lamentandosi. Ciò non sarebbe di vantaggio per voi” (Eb 13,17). Obbedire ed essere sottomessi non è un’azione passiva del giovane che viene accompagnato, ma un esercizio di libertà. All’autorevolezza che accompagna chi guida, corrisponde l’obbedienza di chi si affida. E’ interessante osservare che la stessa espressione viene usata da Luca quando parla di Gesù dodicenne che dopo essersi sottratto per tre giorni a Giuseppe e Maria, tornò a Nazareth e “stava loro sottomesso” (Lc 2,51). L’obbedienza cristiana non trova altro fondamento se non l’obbedienza di Cristo. Il comportamento di Gesù è fatto di ascolto e obbedienza docile e convinta al Padre. Questa è normativa per ogni altra forma di obbedienza che è richiesta nella Chiesa. Gesù non obbedisce alla sua “coscienza” né alle sue “convinzioni”, come facilmente obiettiamo noi oggi. L’obbedienza del Figlio di Dio è frutto dell’amore e sua conseguenza. Non si dimentichi, tuttavia, che per gli scritti neotestamentari l’obbedienza è rivolta alla verità; ciò che si richiede, pertanto, è l’obbedienza al Vangelo che è parola di verità. Non ci si allontana molto, affermando questo, da quanto si è precedentemente detto circa l’incontro con la Parola di Dio. L’obbedienza a chi accompagna è solo una mediazione, perché di fatto è obbedienza alla Parola di Dio e sottomissione alla sua volontà. Non si potrebbe comprendere tutta questa tematica fuori dall’orizzonte dell’amore: “Non c’è assolutamente nulla nella Chiesa –nemmeno il rapporto tra comando e obbedienza- che possa svolgersi fuori dall’amore” (H.U. von Balthasar, “Cristologia e obbedienza ecclesiale”, Saggi IV, 129). L’obbedienza come espressione della responsabilità personale di chi sa rinunciare a qualcosa in vista della libertà, è la condizione della crescita personale nella fede e nella vita del discepolato. Ecco perché chi guida dovrà essere capace di vigilare; cioè di seguire in modo discreto e nel rispetto delle scelte che vengono compiute per essere sempre capace di un accompagnamento frutto dell’amore che educa, più che di un geloso possesso delle proprie convinzioni e della persona che è sempre posta dinanzi a Cristo e a nessun altro.

La preghiera, rimane a questo punto, il richiamo decisivo perché le due persone in gioco possano essere consapevoli del grande dono che viene reciprocamente fatto nell’orizzonte dello Spirito che guida i passi di ambedue.

  1. Il secondo testo fa riferimento all’apostolo Paolo quando scrive: “Non per farvi vergognare vi scrivo queste cose, ma per ammonirvi, come figli miei carissimi. Potreste infatti avere anche diecimila pedagoghi in Cristo, ma non certo molti padri: sono io che vi ho generato in Cristo Gesù mediante il Vangelo. Vi prego, dunque: diventate miei imitatori! Per questo vi ho mandato Timòteo, che è mio figlio carissimo e fedele nel Signore: egli vi richiamerà alla memoria il mio modo di vivere in Cristo, come insegno dappertutto in ogni Chiesa” (1 Cor 4,14-17). Nel suo dialogo con i cristiani di Corinto, Paolo traccia le linee costitutive dell’evangelizzatore: è un imitatore di Cristo. Una persona al servizio di Cristo perché la comunità possa nascere e crescere. Ciò che i Corinzi fanno di richiamarsi a un apostolo o all’altro non ha senso (cfr 1,12); non ha neppure senso voler rincorrere i carismi per avere più autorità sugli altri (cfr 12-13). Ciò che conta, invece, è assumere su di sé la logica della croce che esula da ogni forma di autoesaltazione per rinviare ognuno al mistero della propria chiamata. La categoria dell’imitazione non è affatto frequente nel Nuovo Testamento; appartiene molto di più alla tradizione greco-romana. Delle sole sei volte in cui il termine “imitatore” si incontra (cfr Ef 5,1; Fil 3,17; 1Ts 2,14; Eb 6,12), cinque sono presenti in Paolo. In questa stessa lettera, egli ripeterà con altrettanta forza: “Diventate miei imitatori, come io lo sono di Cristo” (11,1). Come dire: io, l’apostolo, sono solo una copia di Cristo, il vero prototipo a cui guardare e su cui coniugare tutta l’esistenza è solo Gesù. E, comunque, l’apostolo fa riferimento al suo stile di vita: “il mio modo di vivere”. La cosa non è priva di significato soprattutto per il nostro tema. La vita di fede è appunto una “vita” che è caratterizzata dall’incontro con il Signore, dall’essere attratti dal suo amore e dal divenire giorno dopo giorno suoi discepoli. In questa visione della vita, con ragione potrà dire Paolo in Galati: “non vivo più io, ma Cristo vive in me. E questa vita, che io vivo nel corpo, la vivo nella fede del Figlio di Dio, che mi ha amato e ha consegnato se stesso per me” (Gal 2,20).

Certo, l’esempio di Paolo è sconvolgente. Riprendere tra le mani il suo testamento fa toccare con mano la sua convinzione che nonostante l’esistenza contraddittoria, Dio aveva scelto proprio lui: “Rendo grazie a colui che mi ha reso forte, Cristo Gesù Signore nostro, perché mi ha giudicato degno di fiducia mettendo al suo servizio me, che prima ero un bestemmiatore, un persecutore e un violento. Ma mi è stata usata misericordia, perché agivo per ignoranza, lontano dalla fede, e così la grazia del Signore nostro ha sovrabbondato insieme alla fede e alla carità che è in Cristo Gesù… (egli) è venuto nel mondo per salvare i peccatori, il primo dei quali sono io. Ma appunto per questo ho ottenuto misericordia, perché Cristo Gesù ha voluto in me, per primo, dimostrare tutta quanta la sua magnanimità, e io fossi di esempio a quelli che avrebbero creduto in lui per avere la vita eterna” (1 Tm 1,12-16). Permettere di cogliere la “magnanimità” di Dio, cioè la sua straordinaria generosità nei miei confronti, perché nonostante la mia debolezza e contraddizione ha scelto me per annunciare il suo Vangelo.

L’orizzonte vocazionale, pertanto, rimane come lo sfondo su cui agire per verificare la grandezza di un percorso verso il quale incamminarsi per raggiungere l’obiettivo della conquista. E’ ciò che permette di scoprire che Dio ha bisogno di me. La vocazione, dopotutto, non si fonda previamente sulle qualità che si possiedono; forse, si dovrebbe dire proprio il contrario: la corrispondenza alla vocazione consente di dare valore e sostegno a quanto si è. Aiutare a scoprire il primato di Dio nella nostra vita e la forza della sua grazia diventano lo strumento mediante il quale giungere con consapevolezza a orientare la propria esistenza. Una vocazione, dopotutto, non è mai un’improvvisazione; essa, piuttosto, è la scoperta di un progetto che viene da lontano e del quale, forse, per distrazione non ero ancora consapevole. Dovremmo ripetere con Paolo: “quando Dio, che mi mise a parte (ajorisaV) fin dal seno di mia madre e mi chiamò con la sua grazia” (Gal 1,15). Cogliere la presenza perenne e costante di Dio nella mia vita è il servizio basilare che chi accompagna deve ritenere come sua responsabilità personale. Tu fai parte di un progetto di Dio all’interno del quale scopri la tua dignità personale per la realizzazione della tua esistenza.

Conclusione

Le considerazioni fatte portano di nuovo al Documento preparatorio, che può a buon diritto essere assunto come conclusione: l’annuncio del Vangelo richiede la capacità di farlo entrare nella cultura, veicolo essenziale per comunicare. Esiste una “cultura giovanile” che ha bisogno di essere evangelizzata (cfr. III,1), attraverso l’entusiasmo di quanti sono chiamati a far emergere nel cuore dei giovani il desiderio dell’incontro con Gesù Cristo e la forza dell’amore che trasforma.

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Accompaniment and the one who accompanies – today’s focus at the CCEE Symposium on young people in Barcelona

29 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | News Releases

The Symposium on young people which is being held from 28-31 March in Barcelona, organised by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), and by the Archdiocese of Barcelona, met for its second day on 29 March 2017. The focus was on accompaniment (the morning session) and the one who accompanies (the afternoon session).
The experience of being accompanied
The CCEE Vice-President, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, presided at the celebration of Lauds at the start of the day at 9.00 a.m.
Immediately afterwards, at 9.30 a.m., the first session began, with the title: Young people and accompaniment. The first speaker was Jona Draçini (Albania), a Muslim convert to Christianity, who said, inter alia, “I am sure that Jesus Christ has embraced every human heart, those who have lived in the past, those alive today and all the others who will live in the future”. Mate Szaplonczay (Hungary), a Greek-Catholic rite seminarian, underlined the “importance of listening. Young people want to be heard and asked for their opinions”, and so they need good examples and support “in the creation of parish groups and small communities”. There were also interventions from Carlota Cumella (Spain), a member of a parish group; and Simon Janssen (Holland), from the Emmanuel Community, who highlighted how “friendship helped me to understand that even if I was the only Catholic in my institution, I was not alone: there were many friends with whom I knew we were living the same things”. These four young people, from the perspective of the different European contexts to which they belonged, offered their reflections on accompaniment starting from their own experiences of being accompanied.
Subsequently, there was a round table discusssion on personal accompaniment, an accompaniment which must continue for the whole of life. The session was chaired by Mgr Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg. In his introduction, he said that “this is the mission which the Church shares with Christ: to help people save themselves. As bishop, as priest and as layperson, I must work for the salvation of the people I meet and with the people God brings me to meet”. Participating in the subsequent discusssion were experts from each of the areas involved in the Symposium: Agnė Pinigienė (catechesis), Ernesto Diaco (school), Šimo Maršić (university), Paul Metzlaf (young people) and Christopher Jamison (vocations).
The morning session ended with the celebration of Mass, at which we prayed in particular for vocations. For this reason, the main celebrant at the Mass was Mgr Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como and President of the CCEE Commission for vocations. During the celebration, vocation testimonies were given by a female religious and a seminary student.

The one who accompanies

What is needed for good accompaniment? How can we be open and respectful of human freedom whilst also leading and guiding? Responding to these questions in the first part of the afternoon session was Sr Lola Arrieta, of the Carmelite Sisters of Charity and member of the Ruaj’s équipe. In her intervention, she emphasised that “young people are not looking for accompaniment, but when you go to meet them, they accept our accompaniment and are surprised by it: ‘I didn’t know you could share’… If they really find witnesses in us, sooner or later we will succeed in being in dialogue with them (…) “Emmaus is today the paradigm of the Church going to the margins”, she concluded.
At the end of this session, three videos were shown which recounted respectively the experience of some parents from England, the testimony of the trainer of the Portuguese football team, Fernando Santos, and that of a scout leader in Romania.
The day’s work ended with the meeting of language groups, an opportunity for sharing experiences and seeking together new paths to tackle accompaniment.
Prayer Vigil

Wednesday will end with a Prayer Vigil in the parish of Santa Ana, scheduled to begin at 7.45 p.m. For this we will be joined by young people from Barcelona, who are the organisers of this celebration.

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Information for the media

Media Office: is located in the Pere Tarres room in the Seminary.

Briefing: Thursday 30 March with representatives of ecclesial movements as Communion and Liberation, Focolare Movement, Salesians of Saint Bosco and Emmanuel.

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Witness – Young Greek-Catholic Seminarian

29 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Texts, 29.03

Good morning! My name is Mate Szaplonczay. I am a Greek Catholic seminarist from Hungary. This is my last year in the seminary, so I am in the beautiful situation of being still accompanied and of having to be ready for accompanying others at the same time. I consider the accompaniment to be very important in general and in my personal life as well.

I am sure that my balanced relationship with God, and my vocation are thanks to the Holy Spirit, to God’s mercy, and to the people who accompanied me during my whole journey. I would like to talk briefly about my good experiences and thoughts about accompaniment.

I will try to organize them in some points.

  1. The first is the importance of listening. Young people desire to be listened and to be asked about their opinions. They can be very creative and they have some really good suggestions. Here I would like to say thanks to CCEE for their kindly invitation, I am glad to be here with the other young speakers to share our experiences with you. I think CCEE did a good work, since I am convinced that, when we are talking about accompaniment of the youth we should invite them to the discussion. I am sure that the session of “Good practices” tomorrow morning will be also a great open-space for us to learn from each other.
  1. So, my second point is about the good examples. When we talk about accompanying young people, we should keep in mind, that examples are always more important than any words. I will never forget what people said about Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop of Genève: “If the bishop is so good, how good can be the God”. He was a living example of God’s love. For the youth I think not the words what are counting but the acts and things behind them.
  1. Support

Sometimes it seems to be not efficient to accompany a young person without the support of their relationships. Most of the cases in the contemporary Europe the family background doesn’t help youth to find the true meaning of their lives. It might be because there are more and more wounded families, or, for example in the post-soviet countries like Albania or Hungary a whole generation grew up without religion. Since not all the schools are religious, we have to create good parish groups and communities, where they can find precious friends, with whom they can support each other to a better way. I’d like to notice here, that the disciples of Emmaus were two of them, and I suppose they supported each other.

  1. Go where they are

Don Bosco said: “Consider important what they think to be important, and then they will consider important what you think to be important.”

It is very rare that a young person goes to the church or to a religious communion by his own. We have to go among them. We have to go out, we have to go and bring the message of Jesus to others – as Pope Francis said explaining that the Good News is meant to be shared, not stored away. I would like to tell a good example to you. There is an initiation in Hungary called Central Point (Közös Pont). This is an ecumenical mission of the Catholic Church in cooperation with the Lutheran and Calvinist Churches, which is about pre-evangelization on the bigger music festivals. There are at least eighty-hundred thousand young people on these festivals, and we created a space where they can come in anytime, and where they are listened. When I first participated in this mission I was surprised how many of them came in to talk. Most of the incomers were atheist or indifferent, and we had a lot good experiences. Some of them came back in the following years, there were some who told that they were looking for this tent directly. There I was able to feel what pre-evangelization means.

  1. Common Work

My personal experience is that work can bring people closer to each other. I am happy to see all the initiatives which involve volunteers. I and other young people tend to say that we are exhausted and overloaded. But don’t believe us! We have a lot of power and fuel inside, we are just lazy sometimes. But if we discover our stores, we will admit that these opportunities are important and precious, because all the youth can have a common goal to achieve, and the team-work can make them feel that they are connected, and that they have responsibilities for each other. I have a good example of my area in this topic: the Camp Saint Damien. The story of it goes back to the 90’s, when several seminarists decided to pray for disabled people together every day of the year. A few years later they organized a camp for 20 disabled children, and by now we have more than 200 disabled participants each summer with the help of more than 400 volunteers, who are not only take part in the Camp on the summer, but during the whole year there are weekly praying occasions for the participants.

  1. Personal care

Each young person is unique and all of them need a special care. They can feel if it doesn’t come from your heart. A good human relation is necessary for the accompaniment. Let me cite Don Bosco again: “Young people must not only be loved; but they must know they are loved”.

Conclusion

An other quotation which – I think – summarizes very well the meaning of accompanying young people:

“For you I study, for you I work, for you I live and for you I am willing to give my life.” (Don Bosco)

At the end of my speech, I’d like to quote the sentence of the disciples of Emmaus:

“Were not our hearts burning within us, while he talked with us?”

May the Holy Spirit help us to get the heart of the youth burning within them!

Thank You for listening!

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Witness – Young Student from the Netherlands

29 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Texts, 29.03

My name is Simon Janssen, I am 21 years old and I am from the Netherlands.

I would like to share with you my experiences and my vision on accompaniment of the youth in the Catholic Church, and in specific in the Netherlands. I would like to do that in three points. Firstly, I would like to tell you about the situation of the Church in the Netherlands. Next, I would like to share about my life with Christ and the Church so far and I would like to close with my vision and recommendation on accompaniment of the Youth.

  1. The situation of the church in the Netherlands.

I’d like to start with some numbers. In 1975, 38% of the Netherlands was Catholic,

these days, 23% of the Dutch citizens calls themselves Catholic, but less than 1% of the Dutch citizens visits the Church weekly[1]. When I sit in Church and look around, I see mostly grey hair, or no hair at all. Parishes are being merged and the Catholic youth day is, for now, not being organised because of lack of income(and interest).

Nevertheless, some great activities are organised by several different communities and organisations. Such as the teen summer and winter camp of the charismatic renewal, the eastern trilogy and others

  1. My experiences in the Dutch Catholic church.

I was born and raised in a catholic family. Evening prayer, going to masses on Sundays and attending catholic summer camps was normal. In my young days, I knew two things; 1. masses were boring; especially until I did my first communion; it was the one hour being punished even though I did nothing wrong. However, after my first communion it was more easy for I was helping the priest on the altar and I could walk around during masses. The second thing I knew was that my catholic parents weren’t crazy. So even though I was not doing much with it I knew there was a God and it was not weird to believe in him.

As I became 13, i went to a Teen summer camp organised by the Catholic Charismatic renewal. It was my first encounter with non-pipe organ Christian music, but also my first encounter with personal prayer. People shared what God had done in their lives and for the first time I was invited to make a personal decision to be open to God. During adoration I told Jesus in a very simple prayer; Lord, I want to walk with you, show me what is good. In response God gave me so much happiness in my heart that I knew that it was good.

Although my own parish didn’t organise much in the church, from this day on I started to attend and organise all sorts of catholic activities. Every summer I went to the same camp, and in December I went to the winter version of it. For my parents were in the Emmanuel Community I also attended monthly weekends, and later I started organising them. Every of these activities helped me in four ways: Building catholic friendships by doing crazy stuff (like walking in the forest form 23.00 to 03.00 and getting lost), getting input on several subjects, especially the controversial subject like ethics and theology of the body. Also, the couple that was responsible was interested in everyone and very open. This way I felt really welcome the way I am. And last but not least: The sacraments and prayer time. We had praise, adoration, Priere du freres, possibility to confess and daily masses.

These four things were very important to me.

  1. The friendships helped me to realise that although, I was the only catholic in high school, I was not alone. These open warm friendships helped me to be myself and I could really rely on my friends, for I knew that we were living the same things. It even got me and my friends to start a catholic praise band.
  2. input: At the Camps, or the weekends, we had input about different subjects. This information helped me to understand my own faith, but also to defend it when it was attacked, for example in school.
  3. At every weekend or camp, there were people that were not especially responsible for something. They were only there to talk. Whenever you had questions; about faith, about sex, about life or about friendships, they were open for a conversation, and these conversations were confidential. This helped me so much to understand things in my own life. How to implement my faith in daily life
  4. Prayer and the sacraments: it learnt me to pray when i was at home, it gave me great joy to praise together or to celebrate mass together and it gave me so much grace.

After this high school, I attended a gap-year program with the Emmanuel community: the Emmanuel school of mission. The most important thing for me is that I was invited to share my faith, in the streets, in classrooms and with other events. To completely strange people I shared how God touched me, and that made it easier for me to share the same to people that are standing nearer to me.

Now, I’m studying in Nijmegen, which has a very good catholic student group, and I am a member of the Emmanuel community. This is a commitment members retake every year. This brings me to my last point: inviting and inviting for commitment. I was welcomed in the Emmanuel Community, and after several events, I was asked to commit and to help out in the community.

So now I have a household; a prayer and sharing group in the community, and I have accompaniment. A one hour talk with someone from the community(also laity). This person helps you to realise where you are standing in your faith and relationship with Christ, but does not give you advice. He (for males) can be seen as a mirror.

I like points; so here is my 6 point recommendation for accompaniment of the youth.

  1. we need strong examples; we need to see our parents, accompinateurs, priests, brothers and sisters loving God and we need them to be enthusiastic about Jesus. It shows us that, although the world tells us differently, we are not crazy.
  2. We need friendships: people around us that we can rely on, talk to, share our difficulties with and just to have fun. For me when I was sixteen, this helped me to not get drunk with my friends from school, but spend the weekend learning to play praise songs together and sharing about my faith.
  3. We need Input: we need information about our faith, about how we can explain catholic teaching and so much more. As I said, this helped me to defend and explain my faith, but as I understood more, It helped me in growing in faith.
  4. We need to talk: We need to share our difficulties with persons with experience in life and in faith. As it may be a lot of questions when we are young, later; it becomes a mirror where it can help us to see where we are standing and how our relationship with God is doing.
  5. We need prayer and the sacraments. We need to learn to pray, to learn to make time to pray and we need the grace given by God in the sacraments; especially in mass and in in the sacrament of reconciliation.
  6. we need to be invited to go to activities that help us grow in faith, and if we are invited, we need to be invited to commit. We live in a society where commitment is rare, because the youth thinks that commitment makes you less free; instead they need to be invited to give themselves in the parish, in communities or at activities to see that commitment gives you so much more.

So i’ll repeat the six points:

Examples, friendships, input, talking, prayer and sacraments and we need to be invited, and be invited to commit.

If you have any questions, I’ll be very happy to answer them.

Thank you very much.

[1] Kaski Radboud University

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The Symposium on accompanying young people begins in Barcelona

28 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | News Releases

From this afternoon Barcelona has become the centre of the Symposium organised by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference (CEE), and by the Archdiocese of Barcelona, to reflect on, discuss and examine in depth the theme of accompanying young people.

The meeting, which will last unitl Friday 31 March, brings together 275 experts in the pastoral care of young people, schools and universities, and vocational and catechetical work, from the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe. They are accompanied by 32 bishops, four of whom are Cardinals.

“He walked by their side (Luke 24:15). Accompanying young people to respond freely to Christ’s call” is the overall theme of the Symposium. It will be devloped through three areas of work: the person being accompanied (examined on Tuesday), accompaniment and the one who accompanies (which will be the focus of work on Wednesday). Thursday will see an exchange of experiences of good practice in the area of accompaniment and a visit to the “Sagrada Familia”.

Opening session

The opening session was held in the Aula Magna of Barcelona’s seminary, with interventions from Cardinals Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and Vice-president of CCEE; from Cardinal Cañizares, Archbishop of Valencia and Vice-president of CEEE; and from the Archbishop of Barcelona, ​​Mgr Omella.

Mgr Omella welcomed all the participants to Barcelona, “this open and cosmopolitan city”, for a meeting which proposes the idea of accompanying: “It is a real challenge. To accompany means, in a certain sense, being ‘educators’ in the most profound sense of the word educere: to be capable of helping those whom we accompany to get the best out of themselves”.
Immediately afterwards a message from the CCEE President, Cardinal Bagnasco, was read. He shared with participants some reflections which Pope Francis gave in his audience with Heads of State last week: “Walking together is possible and better. It is also essential in an ever more globalised world where to divide us means losing the way. … This is true for all the components of the continent and of the European Union, naturally beginning with the young people who are the future of life”.

Pope Francis sent a greeting addressed to the Archbishop of Barcelona, Msgr. Ornella, in which he encourages participants “to lead a reflection on the challenges of evangelization and on the accompaniment of young people so that, through dialogue and encounter, and how living members of the family of Christ, young people are convinced bearers of the joy of the Gospel in all areas”.

Cardinal Nichols said primarily that Europe is not just the European Union. The CCEE includes all countries of the continent and it is worth to remember, perhaps especially to the majority of young Europeans, that the experience of living in Europe is not easy, it’s not comfortable, it is not stable for those who come to Europe from the East.

For his part, Cardinal Cañizares highlighted how in the Church “we are driven to accompany young people to the encounter with Christ who is walking with them even if they do not know it or do not perceive it, and shares their journey”. At the same time, he said that “young people have, at heart, a great ideal, an irrespressible longing: that life may be something great and good, which does not delude”.

Accompaniment today in Europe

After the opening session, we listened to the first intervention, entrusted to Mgr Jedraszewski, Archbishop of Krakow, and President of CCEE’s Catechesis, School and University Commission, with a presentation entitled: Jesus on the way to Emmaus – accompaniment in Europe today.

Immediately afterwards, a group of young people from the Archdiocese of Barcelona gave a multimedia presentation on the challenges, problems, hopes and joys of young people today in Europe.

The day ended with the celebration of Mass and Vespers presided over by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.

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Information for the media

New location. From Wednesday, the Media Office will be located in the “Pere Tarres” room in the Seminary (the room adjacent to the one used today).

Briefing. Wednesday 29 March.

A meeting is scheduled for 1300 between journalists and Raquel Pérez, responsible for the organisation of the event on behalf of the Spanish Bishops’ Conferences and director of the Conference’s Secretariat for Universities. Dr Pérez will also be present at the briefing.

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Life Teen

20 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Best Practices

Life teen is a methodology of catechesis for teenagers in parishes that comes from USA, based in sessions of 4 parts (Life nights). 5 years ago arrived to Spain and now is in more than 30 spanish parishes and in different European parishes. Life Teen offers a methodology, trainings and a lot of resources. Their charisma is the inculturation in the teenage culture to lead teens close to Christ, and they really do it very well. All the Spanish parishes that are using it are really excited with the results and the changes they are experienced.

Jordi Massegú is the responsible for Spain, and during 11-12 march the European Life teen conference has been done in the Seminar in Barcelona with 200 participants. We think it’s a good and powerful tool to know and. USA is not Europe, but their teenagers are not so different than ours. And if in something the Catholic American Church is good is working on youth.

Information
Youth Delegation of Barcelona | CE Spain
http://www.lifeteen.es/
Contact Person during the Symposium:Jordi Massegú | Responsible Life Teen Spain
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Missão País (Mission Country)

20 March 2017 |by CCEE Media Office | 0 Comments | Best Practices

In recent years, a number of university student movements have emerged which, while independent, are monitored by Catholic movements and organized into Catholic Student Groups (NEC: Núcleos de Estudantes Católicos) within the universities themselves. This phenomenon is most visible in the city of Lisbon, which in 5 years between 2011 and 2016 saw the increase of groups from 5 to 16. It was a way that Catholic university students themselves found to keep alive their Christian identity in academic space. From this they promote various actions, formal or informal, such as prayer times, Eucharistic celebrations, tertulias, social intervention actions, pilgrimages, among others.

These university movements come from an initiative that has involved hundreds of university students: the Missão País. This action comes from the initiative of the Apostolic movement of Schoenstatt and proposes to university students, at national level, missionary actions within the country. They began in 2003 with only 1 mission consisting of 20 young university missionaries, and in 2015 there are already 1,800 missionaries organized in 35 missions carried out at the national level. Since 2003, 154 missions have been carried out. These actions are, above all, the formation of Christian identity. Volunteer action is one of its aspects, but these missions go far beyond volunteering, they appear as an opportunity to educate young university students, future leaders of society, to Christian principles and their intervention in society.

Information
National Pastoral Service of Higher Education | CE Portugal
http://www.conferenciaepiscopal.pt/v1/
Contact Person during the Symposium:Eduardo Duque | Assistant of the National Pastoral Service of Higher Education
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