We had an intense and rich day of work with young people, dealing with the Piarist Synod of Youth and the Calasanz Movement and, in the last session, the reality of the Province of Asia Pacific.
Today’s Eucharist was presided over by Fr. Christian Ehemba, Provincial of West Africa. During the homily, Fr. Pierre Canisius Badji underlined the power of the Word “which builds, comforts and gives life” and shows us the power of Jesus to transform people. “Jesus is close,very close, he enters into a relationship with the poor and the sick, with those who suffer, to be a source of life”, stressed Fr Badji.
In the first session of the morning, Guilherme, a young man from Belo Horizonte, presented the work of the Piarist Youth Synod convened in the last six years. Guilherme stressed the importance of accompaniment and leadership for the promotion of Pious Schools close to young people. “We must change our projects and methods, to allow our Piarist contexts to stop being places of passage and become places of destination”, explained Guilherme.
Roland Márkus, from Hungary, explained from his personal experience the path of the Calasanz Movement in the context of the Order and stressed the need to promote synodality through co-responsibility. “We need to be shepherds instead of managers”, he explained to the Assembly. Among the keys to boost the Calasanz Movement, Roland highlighted the strengthening of volunteering and the deepening of the relationship with God.
The echoes in the assembly reinforced some keys such as the importance of accompaniment, emotional listening: “listening to the heart”. The Chapter Fathers valued the contributions of the young people. “We all have a voice, but not always a microphone, your contribution must serve as a lever of change for the Order”, they stressed in the Assembly and recognised the need to facilitate structures of participation for young people also through open religious communities. Young people have to be a voice, but not echoes of what others say. “We need your commitment, your discourse as the fruit of your reflection”, they shared at the Assembly.
In the afternoon Jorge Ramirez (USA-Puerto Rico), Thomas Placide Mandona (West Africa), Katarzyna Barnás (Poland), and Juan González (Mexico) shared insights about their Piarist identity. Placide explained how “children love us not because of our knowledge, but for our compassion, for being close to them”. Katarzyna stressed the idea of promoting co-responsibility as means for young people to participate, to get involved and to live in the community as a vital reference point. Jorge, currently a deacon in New York, emphasized the need to build “processes’ ‘ beyond punctual and decontextualized projects, for which different attitudes are necessary, such as welcoming, openness to change and ongoing training, among others. Juan, from Mexico, explained in his speech that the Piarist is the one who accompanies “from the earliest childhood, getting involved with transparency” and for this he proposed some clues, claiming the deconstruction of adult-centrism, “so that the child and the young person are also our teachers”.
The last session of the afternoon was devoted to the mission in the Province of Asia Pacific. Fr. Miguel Artola, Provincial, presented the work carried out during the last six years, in which priority has been given to the promotion of vocations with communities in Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.