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International Marist Youth Meeting



Interview with Br João Carlos do Prado, director of the Secretariat of Mission

17/07/2013: General House
IMYM | 17-21 July 2013

BrJoão Carlos do Prado is Director of the Secretariat of Mission, which animates Marist Youth Ministry (MYM) worldwide. On the threshold of the 3rd International Marist Youth Meeting (IMYM), we spoke with him about the perspectives of the Institute with regard to the youth taking part in the meeting in Rio de Janeiro.


What motivates the Institute to hold an international meeting with representives of youth from all over the  Marist world ?

Our Institute has a strong international identity. We are present in 79 countries on all the continents. If we want to continue to develop our international identity, it is essential that people meet, get to know one another, exchange and share their cultures, dreams, vision of the world and of the Church, and about ways of living the Marist charism today among children and young people. Numerous meetings of brothers and laity have been organised in recent years to promote this dialogue. Young people are part of this process. They are at the centre of our mission. It is very important for the Institute to promote the creation of such spaces as the International Meeting in order to listen to youth and, at the same time, to foster networks of exchange among them around the world.

Is the Marist charism a concrete proposition for the youth of today ?

Yes, on the condition that it contributes to the realisation of their great vocation which is happiness. The discovery and experience of Jesus give us the possibility of a total happiness… Young people can find in the Marist charism elements capable of helping them live their human and Christian vocation in everyday life… With others, the young can follow a path of human and spiritual growth with the Marist charism as a reference point. Marist identity, mission and spirituality are relevant and constitute a great call for the youth of today… Youth can help us rediscover the richness of our charism and the best way to live it in today’s world.

Themessage of the youth gathered at Buitrago (2011) clearly testified to their will to change the structuresof the world : civil, ecclesial and institutional structures. Is that what inspired the choice of the slogan of the Rio meeting (Change) ?

Certainly. The slogan « Change; make the difference ! » is intended as a response to the Meeting of Buitrago. At the same time, it responds to the 21st General Chapter and the WYD to be held in Rio de Janeiro… The motto and the theme of the WYD is : « Go and make disciples of all the nations » (Mt 28 :19). In « change » there is a whole dimension of newness, which commences with the conversion of heart and mind ; and in the WYD, the missionary dimension, of meeting and dialogue…

What are the concrete gestures which show acceptance of the aspirations of young people and the way in which the Institute considers them as taking part ?

There are numerous concrete gestures, and also challenges. On the international level, the holding of the  International Youth Meetings starting with the Marist Festival 2008 in Sydney, is already a very clear sign of the new way of understanding youth around the world. Apart from this meeting, one can mention the organisation and mobilisation of Marist youth at the local, provincial, regional and international levels.

Among the experiences, we can cite Marist Youth Ministry (MYM), etc. The document « Evangelizers in the midst of youth » is a catalyzer of these experiences and an encouragement to continue to move forward where they exist and to take concrete steps where this type of experience is just beginning. These last years, work with vulnerable young people has been greatly intensified. The creation of the Marist International Solidarity Foundation (FMSI), with an office in Geneva, Switzerland, has allowed a new Marist look at children and youth in the perspective of their rights…

The great challenge is to keep on listening to youth and give them their « space of right »…

What are the repercussions of the IMYMfor the MYM in the Provinces ?

The greatest result is the dimension of communion and of international networking on the part of the young people. At the meeting of Rio de Janeiro there will be almost 300 youth from 40 countries. 25 Marist Provinces and Districts will be represented. It is a great opportunity for them to know one another, dialogue, exchange experiences…

The assembly in Rio de Janeiro will contribute to awareness of the international identity of the MYM. The great welcome that the International Marist Youth Meeting receives in all the Provinces and Districts can strengthen the identity of the MYM and foster greater connection at the regional and international level.

What are the challenges which the MYMposes to the Marist Institute today ?

On the international level, I think the great challenge for the Institute today is to offer a process of education in the faith for the MYM groups…

For the Provinces and Districts with most experience and tradition in this field, the challenge is to offer criteria and  indications which can help evaluation of projects in course in a way as to respond better to the context of the world and the Church today. For the Provinces, the challenge is to offer the conditions necessary for the MYM to move forward : persons, physical spaces, resources, etc. It is necessary to agree to a great investment in the formation of leaders of the MYM.

All the same, the greatest challenge is situated at the personal level. What is needed, more and more, are persons passionate for youth, who are not afraid to walk beside them. Persons knowing how to listen to them, dialogue and journey at their side… To take on the MYM means more than a few hours a week or fortnight devoted to young people. It is a choice of life which, even if we are at a distance, makes us always stay with them.

IMYM | 17-21 July 2013

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