Rome (Italy) The online meeting organized by the Youth Ministry Department took place on 30 June 2020 with the Provincial Coordinators of YM and other participants, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and lay people belonging to the Provinces of the Provincial Conference Africa – Madagascar (CIAM).
The meeting entitled “God is doing a new thing” (Cf. Is 43: 19), with the aim of making together a believer’s reading of the experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic with the Educating Communities of the CMA FMA, was coordinated by Sister Runita Borja, General Councilor for Youth Ministry, together with the Sector Collaborators.
The meeting opened with the Common Prayer for Earth and Humanity – proposed by Pope Francis on May 24, 2020 on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Laudato Sì- invoking help to “show creative solidarity in addressing the consequences of this global pandemic” and courage “in embracing the changes aimed at the search for the common good”, in a time in which one experiences “ that we are all interconnected and interdependent”.
Following, listening to the experience of each Province provided the opportunity to share and know how children/adolescents, and young people, parents and educators of the Educating Communities of the realities in which the FMA are present are experiencing time away from educational environments, churches, and places of worship due to the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. In this regard, the Provincial Coordinators of YM, together with FMA and lay people of their respective Provinces, prepared and shared a Presentation, following a thread of common reflection.
Covid-19 is spreading in the African continent and, although the number of infections appears modest compared to other continents, as the participants have expressed, “the virus is already causing a growing hunger pandemic”, resulting in general socio-economic impoverishment and threatening the most vulnerable categories, such as women and people living on a subsistence economy. For many teenagers and young people, especially girls, “the commitment and effort to achieve school and academic goals now seem to be drowning.”
The confinement situation therefore affects the educational mission, spurring pastoral conversion: in their distance from young people, the Educating Communities rediscover the importance of “making themselves close to them” rather than “doing activities” for them. The participants shared gestures and methods implemented to sensitize the population and implement preventive action against the Coronavirus epidemic, often in collaboration with the local Church and civil and governmental Organizations. Some CIAM Provinces also have dispensaries, ambulatories, and clinics that have remained open and functioning at this time, continuing to carry out their social and health service in the area.
In concluding, Sr. Runita cited Circular n° 999 of the FMA Mother General, recalling to faith in,
- “the one true power. The Holy Spirit chooses us as His collaborators. We are invited to deepen our understanding of this call,”
- To experience communion and collaboration that from the Communities spreads to the whole Institute, to the local Churches, to the social-cultural contexts in which we work. “The appeal of Pope Francis for a new Global Educational Pact revives the commitment for and with the young generations, taking seriously the commitment to take care of our Common Home so as to insure the future for the new generations,”
- To seek creative and concrete ways to promote sustainability through a life style according to the Encyclical Laudato sì;
The words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “Pray as though everything depends on God and work as though everything depends on you,” a Hail Mary prayed in the various languages by the participants, and the final greetings closed the online meeting.