This morning saw the conclusion of the Symposium in Barcelona on accompanying young people, organised...0
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.
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.
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.