Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Accompanying the youth

Sunday afternoon I went to the village of El Limon. the youth there were hosting a meeting with the youth of another village, Yaruconte.

El Limon youth
Things started late, which is not a surprise. A bus with 40 young people from Yaruconte arrived more than an hour late. Transportation foul-ups.

Yaruconte youth arriving
 The hosting group – about 30 young people – awaited them in the church. The church was full since many parents, adults, and little children had come out to see what was happening.

They began with some animated singing. But I sense that they weren’t sure what to do – so I proceeded to lead a few ice breakers. I also had the young people from El Limon write what they’d like to discuss in their group.

When the group from Yaruconte arrived, they were greeted in the small church – which was already full.

A panorama of the youth from both communities
There was a lot of singing and the El Limon group put on two dramas. And there was more singing.

The rich man and Lazarus

 A young guy from Yaruconte had the young people introduce themselves and then led the final prayer – a 20 minute prayer. A bit long for me.

Then there was a small snack – baleadas and ticucos.

It was great to see so much energy and to see young people who are trying to take their faith seriously.

It is our hope in the parish that young people will form base communities of young people. Based on what we learn from the young people and their concerns, we’ll try to develop some material to help.

I do have a few concerns.

I hope that the young people are allowed to develop their own leadership and to run their own groups.

I also hope that they are not satisfied with mere enthusiasm or charismatic leaders or animated singing. I hope they can deepen their faith so that it becomes a part of their daily lives.

Before I left I spoke with one of the coordinators of the Yaruconte group, a 23 year old guy. He asked me a question that another young person had briefly asked me beforehand: Is it okay if we do folkloric dances?

Yes, I said, because that is part of recovering and preserving your culture, your inheritance. Indeed, the preservation of culture is a real concern of the Latin American Catholic church.

It seems that they had prepared some dances as well as some dramas but someone in El Limon had told them that they shouldn’t do them in the church where they were meeting.

I don’t know if this was because the meeting was in the church or because there were some people in El Limon who are opposed to dancing of any sort and see it as sinful – this is not uncommon among some Catholics here.

But that won’t stop the young people.

I will be continuing to help them. In fact, this Saturday I’ll be going to San Agustin to help with their youth on the theme of trust.

My real hope, though, is to have a day and a half workshop with four leaders from each village where the youth are organizing themselves – to develop leaders who will work with their peers. That can be quite a challenge, but it’s worth it.

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