5 Indian Catholic, Hindu youth take part in Youth Assembly in Rome

By Matters India Reporter

Rome, September 12, 2019: Five Indian youth, among 200 others from 67 countries, are attending the first Focolare Movement’s first international Youth Assembly, taking place at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, Italy, September 10 – 15.

There are four Catholics and one Hindu youth from India. They are Julie Pao, Kumberly Nigrel, Daphne De Souza, Anthony P. Georgy and Laxman Kami.

They are participating to learn from others to build united world in society and contribute during the assembly and back home when they return from there, Marco Cardilli, youth coordinator of Focolare Movement India, told Matters India.

The International youth delegation belongs to different Churches, some followers of different religions, from a wide variety of different cultures across the globe . All have been called together in order to draw up proposals and a shared vision for the next six years, said Anna Lisa Innocenti, organizer.

“There’s a new thirst for something challenging and authentic among young people now. We’re very aware of the issues facing today’s world. And we realise that it’s too difficult to do anything about them on our own. We know how to link up with many other young people who want to be agents of change. And we can work together with the older generations too,” said Nicholas, a 27-year-old Italian and Amanda, 29, from Brazil.

Both are members of the commission who were involved in preparing the Focolare Movement’s first international Youth Assembly.

The idea for this Assembly first emerged in 2017 and has developed since then through numerous pre-Assemblies of youth in various locations around the world.

Many young people had expressed the desire to meet together and talk about issues important to their generation. At the same time, Focolare members older than young ones were asking how they view the Movement and the specific contribution they as young people can make today to become ever more dedicated to the cause of a united world.

“We ourselves identified the main topics to be covered by the Assembly. We’ve researched dynamic engaging methods to enable the young people present to express themselves freely while sharing ‘an experience of God,’” said Innocenti.

Participants come form Youth for a United World, young members of the Parish and Diocesan Movements, Seminarians (known as ‘Gens’) belonging to the Focolare Movement and young religious and consecrated men and women in formation (known as ‘GenRe’). So this is an innovative development for the Focolare – to bring together in the Assembly representatives of all the different youth expressions within the Movement. To facilitate the spirit of collaboration, a preparatory commission was formed in November 2018, comprising 15 people from the different youth wings in various parts of the world, most being aged under 30, with just a few older people too.

What they are discussing the Assembly includes the best way to ascertain the thoughts and desires of young people around the world was through a questionnaire.

In the preparatory Commission the organisers drew up four questions asking young people to describe two characteristics of someone identifying as a young Focolare member; to indicate two strong points and two things they would like to change in the Movement, giving reasons; to reflect on how to ensure the young people’s voice is heard within the Focolare Movement; to identify priorities for the forthcoming six years.

No less than 7,300 responses came in! Organisers felt the weight of responsibility as they collated all this input.

“From reading it all, we were able to produce a resource for the pre-assemblies around the world, which also nominated their own regional representatives. We then incorporated the feedback from these preliminary meetings into a working document for the main Assembly. It presents proposals, pointers and new perspectives on the international Assembly’s four central themes: formation and accompanying; going outwards; the identity of Focolare youth; the role of Focolare youth as protagonists,” said Innocenti.

“Now we’re all ready to be amazed and surprized by our Assembly! It will certainly provide a strong new impetus to go forward towards fulfilling Jesus’ dream: “That all may be one” (John 17:21), as we give our own contribution to the building up of a more united world,” she added.

The Focolare Movement has been in India since 1980 and today has communities and centers in Bangalore, Goa, Darjeeling, New Delhi, which promote activities and meetings for adults, families and young people.

Various social projects are flourishing around the Focolare communities, engaged in child education, improving conditions for women, supporting families in economic difficulties. Particular emphasis is placed on the spread of the values of “universal fraternity” among adolescents, reaching young people of all religions.

The Focolare Movement is an international organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood, founded in 1943 by Chiara Lubich.

India has 1.3 billion people. Its population could soon exceed China’s. It is a rapidly developing country with one of the biggest economies in the world. At the same time, there is tremendous illiteracy, poverty, and malnutrition. Its enormous religious variety includes the 80% Hindu majority and a 2.3% Christian minority. It is understandable that among the Focolare dialogues in a process in this land, the most developed is to promote interreligious dialogue.

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