SSVP youth actively participated in both events
We report with great joy the success of the youth events held in Portugal recently. We are talking about the International Youth Meeting of the Vincentian Family (IYMVF) held in Felgueiras (North) and the World Youth Day (WYD), organized in the capital Lisbon. The Vincentian youth of the Vincentian Family, especially the young people of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, had an active participation in both activities.
On July 29th and August 1st, 2023, the city of Felgueiras brought together 1,300 young Vincentians from 60 nationalities who took the Vincentian charism to that picturesque city. The theme of the IYMVF was chosen based on the St. Vincent de Paul quote: “I am neither from here nor from there, but from wherever God wants me to be”.
This meeting, which took place at the Felgueiras High School, had as its objectives: a) to live an experience of the universality of the Church and the Vincentian charism; b) to awaken the participants to the Vincentian missionary vocation and mission, and c) to raise awareness of the relevance of the Vincentian charism. The agenda included celebrations, reflections, prayers, catechesis, workshops, recreational and cultural activities as well as fraternization and exchange of experiences.
Three of the catechesis were conducted by members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul: “Youth: activism or mission?” (brother Renato Lima, 16th President General), “Youth: protagonism and challenges of the present times” (brother Willian Alves, International Vice President of Youth, Children and Adolescents) and “Ozanam House” (brothers Manuel Carvas Guedes and Luiz Roque, from the Oporto Central Council).
As well, young people from the International Committee also collaborated in the catechesis, delivering talks in several languages: Boipelo Mathodlana (South Africa), Katheleen Brissete (USA), Josmary Centella (Venezuela), Juliana Abigaelle (Brazil) and Edgardo Fuentes (Honduras).
There were several highlights of the Felgueiras meeting. Among them was the official opening of the event when the young people were welcomed by the international leaders of the Vincentian Family and local government representatives. During the meeting, two Eucharists were celebrated, one of them by Father Tomaz Mavric, Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission, when the young participants experienced a strong moment of spirituality and deepening of faith.
On the last day of the assembly, the young people went on pilgrimage praying the Rosary, participating in a beautiful candlelight procession, in a walk that began at the Felgueiras City Hall and ended at the Shrine of Santa Quiteria. These were moments of great emotion and deep spirituality.
The sadness of leaving the city of Felgueiras was compensated by the joy of arriving in Lisbon. On August 1st, the young Vincentians headed to the Portuguese capital to participate in World Youth Day with Pope Francis. The theme of the event was: “Mary got up and left in haste” (St. Luke 1, 39). An estimated 1.5 million young people were in Lisbon. The last WYD was held in Panama City (Panama) four years ago. The event is a time when young people from all nations come together to celebrate their faith and renew their commitment to belonging to the Catholic Church.
There were several highlights of WYD Lisbon 2023. Among them, we can mention the opening Mass with the Patriarch (Monsignor Manuel Clemente), and the events in the presence of the Pope: the Via Crucis, the vigil and the closing mass. The Pontiff’s speeches were highlighted everywhere he went, especially during his visit to St. Vincent de Paul Parish and the Catholic University. The Holy Father, traveling through the city in his “papa mobile”, was greeted effusively by all who were applauding him in the streets.
Tiredness and the heat in Lisbon did not prevent young people from actively participating in all the activities of World Youth Day. DJ Father Guilherme Peixoto, 49, a diocesan priest, woke up the pilgrims with techno music at Grace’s Camp where everyone was sleeping on August 6th, the last day of the event. The next World Youth Day will be held in 2027 in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Before that, the Vatican announced that it will hold the Youth Jubilee in 2025 as part of the Ordinary Holy Year program, with the theme “Pilgrims of Hope”.
“These were amazing days in Felgueiras and Lisbon. I feel very happy to be able to conclude my service as International Vice-president for Youth by participating in these two important events. Now, back in our countries, we have the commitment to pass on the content and experiences we have lived, so that other young people can enjoy this immense joy. The Pope has made it clear: the Church is open to all God’s children. The Catholic Church needs young people, as well as the poor families who are assisted by our Conferences”, said confrere Willian Alves.
It should also be noted that the Vincentian Family of Portugal was present at the Vocations Fair of World Youth Day, held in Jardim Vasco da Gama, in front of the Jeronimos’ Monastery. Using a stand, the Vincentians handed out leaflets, talked to pilgrims and explained how the branches of the Vincentian Family act in Portugal. Hundreds of people visited this Vincentian stand and wanted to know more about the saint of charity. We are grateful for the collaboration of all the Vincentians who were present on site to give witness to the Vincentian mission.
In addition to Felgueiras and Lisbon, the SSVP youth made a visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima and were able to get to know other Portuguese localities in the Lisbon region. The Council General International thanks the SSVP’s Superior Council of Portugal, the Portuguese Vincentian Family, the Felgueiras 2023 Organizing Committee and Father Pedro Guimarães (CM), Visitor of the Province of Portugal, for the general organization, reception, logistics, zeal and affection that were given to the young people during the meetings.
It is also worth emphasizing that the Council General International, in addition to having made possible the presence of the Territorial Youth Delegates in Felgueiras and Lisbon, sponsored the presence of 12 other young people from 10 countries, winners of the competition held last year on the theme “Charity and High Education”. They had all their expenses paid and were thus able to have the privilege of participating in a WYD with the Pope, a unique moment in their lives. All these young people (delegates and winners of the competition) stayed at the Saint Vincent de Paul High School, a Vincentian school maintained by the Daughters of Charity.
Watch the video: https://fb.watch/mbUTG4IUzK/