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Marist Youth 2010

02/07/2010: United States

During Memorial Day weekend (27-30 May), over 250 young people, Lay Marists colleagues and Brothers representing the provinces of Canada, Mexico Occidental, the United States gathered together at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York to take part in the 2010 Marist Youth Gathering. This gathering, which is not only a celebration of our Marist identity and our call to follow in Champagnat’s footsteps but also this gathering serves as an opportunity for both the young people and adults to witness, first-hand, the diversity and richness of our Marist world.

Students selected for this gathering have been identified by the faculty and administration of their schools to be young men and women who not only have leadership potential but also have been identified as servant leaders and agents of change within the school community.

In keeping with the theme of the XXIst General Chapter, the planning committee thought that it would be appropriate to help our young Marist men and women form ‘New Hearts for a New World” as we look to continue to bring to life the mission and vision of Father Champagnat.

As part of the opening ceremonies the young Marists were welcomed and addressed by Brother Ben Consigli, Provincial of the United States. In his opening Brother Ben spoke to the young people saying:
“As young men and women of hope you have been chosen to participate in this gathering because you demonstrate the characteristics which “claim” you as Marist leaders: love of neighbor, service to others, and family spirit. The challenge of creating “new hearts for a new world” and the consequences of doing so will impact on our time together, and hopefully, will impact those you encounter back at your school.
As we begin, I think it is important for us to remember the early followers of Christ, because if we are truly Marist, we are first and foremost followers of Christ. The disciples of Jesus struggled with the question of how they would continue to survive without Jesus being physically present with them. It really is the same question we struggle with today. What can we learn from the earliest Christian community who struggled for meaning after Christ departed from them? In these past weeks of this Easter season, the scriptures have challenged us to have a personal and communal relationship with the Risen Christ and to love one another. As Marists, these are the challenges for us as well. May our time together allow us to dream of a better world where community and love of God and neighbor are paramount, and may we continue to listen in our hearts to what God is calling us to”.

In addition to the words of the Provincial, Brother Emili Turu, Superior General, who was unable to attend but wrote a letter to the young people gathered and encouraged them to be people of hope, compassion and love. Furthermore, Brother Emili commented on the importance of the theme by saying:
“Dear young people, you have in yourselves the power of God, the creativity and the courage to carry on with something that is arousing in your feelings of fullness.
Yes, we need new hearts to face the challenges presented to us by this historic time in which we are privileged to live.
New hearts in our globalized world:

- for living responsibly in the common house that is our Earth, and for which we are all responsible,

- for opening ourselves to internationalism and multiculturalism, discovering the richness there,

- for recognizing new brothers and sisters beyond race, religion and culture,

- for turning this globalization into an opportunity for solidarity in the fight against poverty,

- for committing ourselves to struggle on behalf of those who the most vulnerable in this system: the children who see themselves condemned to being excluded.

- for continuing to proclaim the liberating Gospel of Jesus with all the means the new technologies place at our disposal, but above all with our words and our lives”.

Throughout the course of the weekend students were lead in a variety of presentations. Among the presenters were Brother Michael Flanigan who spoke about Marcellin Champagnat and his mission. Mr. Adam Wouk, Campus Minister from Marist High School in Chicago, spoke about the importance of doing service as in the Marist tradition. Lastly, Brad Farmer and Gene Monterastelli, from Apex Ministries, spoke to the students about of giftedness and the challenge and obligation that we, as Marists, have to use that giftedness in a way that makes a difference within our communities and within our world.

In addition to large group presentations, students chose from a variety of workshops that were offered throughout the course of the weekend. Some of the workshops included: Living and Growing as Young Marists, Developing and Strengthening Our Call to be Servant Leaders, the Gospel According to Hollywood, Prayer through Movement, Walking the labyrinth: A Journey of Faith.

As a way for participants to have some fun and to get to know each other students were broken into small groups for discussions and also for the Champagnat Games.

At the conclusion of the weekend Brother Al Rivera, Director of Marist Youth Ministry for the Province of the United States along with Brothers Steve Milan, Director of Young Adult Ministry and Brother Dominick Pujia, as well as all the adults present, commissioned and blessed the young people and reminded them of their responsibility to be the light of Christ for others. As part of the closing each student was given a small lantern to remind them not only of the experience but more importantly to remind them that Christ is ever present and that they are that light for others. As Matthew 5:16 states: “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father”.

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