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IV Provincial Youth Gathering - El Salvador 2013

 

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Marists, Making a difference!

30/08/2013: El Salvador - Photo gallery

There were many reasons for this gathering. At the Church level we are celebrating the Year of Faith. As Marists we are living the Year of Youth. In Rio de Janeiro we celebrated the International Marist Youth Meeting under the slogan “Change! Make a Difference!” And this was immediately followed by the World Youth Day.

There were no excuses. We had to organize this gathering and we wanted to. The time was right, so we got down to work. A year ago we decided that in late July of 2013 we wanted to celebrate the IV Provincial Youth Gathering, and so we did. Let me tell you how it went.

From July 26 to 28, we held this get-together in our Province of Central America. Our motto: Marists, Making a Difference!

Following tradition, El Salvador hosted the delegations from other countries. It was a big challenge, since there were around 1140 participants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Canada.

The goals we set out from the start were the following:

•          To celebrate with a youthful spirit our sense of provincial identity – a Province with an incredible richness and variety of expressions – through an experience of Marist family and community.

•          To open a space for reflection on our Marist identity, its value and implications, on how to make a difference, and about our dreams for Marist life in the future.

•          To offer a space where we could encounter Jesus, growing in faith and friendship with Him.

•          To connect several events taking place in the Church and the Institute: Year of Faith, Year of Youth, and World Youth Day.

The weeks previous to the gathering were intense and exhausting. We had plenty of things to do: lists, badges, backpacks, snacks, decoration, choreographies, etc. How much work and collaboration from so many people! You could breathe enthusiasm in the air!

On Friday 26, everything was ready at the Liceo Salvadoreño, the Marist school hosting the event, and the delegations started to arrive. The Guatemalans are here! Honduras just arrived! The Nicaraguans are not here yet! Each delegation and each group from El Salvador had a designated classroom to leave their luggage, register, and receive the backpack with all the materials. At about 4:30 p.m. we were all in the gym, a bit nervous, but ready to go. We spent only a few hours together this afternoon, but we filled up with energy. The presenters, the welcome ceremony, the opening choreography, and the initial prayer service certainly introduced us to the sense of the gathering, to the reason why we had come from near and afar. At the end of the evening everyone went home. Many were guests from other countries, and for a few days became part of another family.

On Saturday 27, we focused on the testimony of different people who are trying to make a difference as Marists. The video sent by Brother Emili Turú, our Superior General, motivated the day. Working in groups allowed us to share the experience of solidarity we had all lived before coming to the meeting. This experience was practically the only requirement to participate.

By mid-morning we took the group photo. How many people! What a potential for our centers in the different countries! Will we be actually able to make a difference?

The afternoon was a wonderful time for integration and sharing. Each participant had registered in advance to participate in a recreational activity: sports, board games, karaoke, and film discussion. The three Marist schools located nearby hosted the different events: Liceo Salvadoreño, Escuela San Alfonso, and Colegio Champagnat.

After dinner, we went on reflecting on what it means to be a Marist. A prayer service allowed us to gather “around the same table”, and recall each of our countries where we want to make a difference as young Marists. With a mini-concert and some party time we closed this intense day. We deserved some rest indeed.

On Sunday the 28th we had to draw concrete conclusions from what we had reflected the day before: How can I live out Marist values ​​in my concrete situation?After some personal quiet time, each participant shared the answer to this question with his or her own group, and then the group joined back together in the gym to celebrate the closing Eucharist and missioning ceremony. It was the perfect time to thank God for this opportunity to meet and celebrate our faith, being Marists together.

After a quick lunch, many had to travel and return to their countries in a hurry. It was time to say goodbye. We had made new friends. But most important of all, we found hearts vibrating and yearning in unison: it was the dream of Champagnat!

Thanks to each and everyone who made this meeting possible and contributed to its success. It would have been impossible without everybody’s help!

We ask God for the courage to make a difference wherever we are, next to the people with whom we share our lives. May our Good Mother continue to accompany us on this journey, as we keep on trying to be disciples of Jesus.

_______________

Brother Daniel Martín

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