Turin (Italy). On 20 March 2024, at the Casa della Giovane in Turin, in the Province of Mary Help of Christians (IPI), VIDES organized an evening in fraternity to express closeness and solidarity to those living in a situation of conflict, in particular in the Middle East.

Account of the experience:

“The solidarity dinner was an explosion of fraternity and youth participation, a way to express closeness to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Bethlehem, of Jesus Adolescent Province (MOR), who amid the difficult and suffering stories try to give hope every day in a land that for countless years has not known peace.

The atmosphere of welcome, created with spontaneity by the smiles of the Postulants and the Sisters of Most Holy Mary of Consolation Community, was the key that opened the hearts of the participants, regardless of age, backgrounds, roles. For one evening, everyone left behind their sorrows and worries and tried to immerse themselves in the daily life of those who are forced to live the war, the abuse, the deprivation of freedom.

Meeting around a very long table set with care, inside an unusual ‘restaurant’ – the living room of Via Giulio – to share a dish of pasta and beans for some, rice for others, communicated in silence, the desire to express the motivation for being there, on a spring evening, after a day of commitments and work.

The invitation of the Animator, Sister Celestina Corna, to choose to live this moment of fraternal sharing as a way to reach with thought and affection so many who are suffering in lands not so far from ours, prepared souls to welcome the touching testimonies that arrived from Jerusalem, Cuba, Haiti, that they chose to share, emphasizing not only material needs, but above all, the need not to feel alone and forgotten.

While each of those present let themselves be invaded by the hunger of children, the sorrow of mothers, the sense of helplessness of young people, there came as a gift in direct connection from Bethlehem, Lina, a young student of Educational Sciences. She had lived for some time in the Casa della Giovane, with which she was linked. In presenting herself, she recounted how she spent twenty-one of her twenty-five years in the war, among the missiles that streamed and sailed through her sky, between the walls by which the city is surrounded, amid the explosion of bombs.

Many adults and young people have lost their jobs, an experience that she is also having, not only because tourism is now non-existent, but because they are prevented from moving even from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, where although limited, there are more possibilities.

What struck her most in her allowing her heart to speak, was to emphasize that the only things that stand in a situation in which it seems impossible to believe in peace, are faith and prayer, a firm point of many young people in hers parish group. This was confirmed by the video she shared, where it emerged that the prayer of the Rosary and the Eucharistic celebration are fundamental in order not to lose hope. However, the same video also showed the great suffering of not being able to reach the sacred places to celebrate the Christian holidays. Before greeting us, Lina proposed that we recite together the prayer to “Our Lady who makes the walls fall”, the icon that since 2010 stands on the wall that divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

After these intense moments, Sister Valentina Robazza, on behalf of the FMA Community, proposed two opportunities for sharing, apparently linked to two different but closely connected areas. Colored leaflets were distributed on which each one wrote a prayer intention that was entrusted to another of those present to create unity in communion. At the same time, since faith without works is meaningless, everyone, according to their own possibilities, made a concrete gesture of solidarity to make those who at this moment lack the essentials feel less alone.

The song that followed to invoke peace, led by the Postulants and accompanied by the sound of the guitar, was a strong moment that offered the opportunity to question oneself on the gestures of peace that each chooses to make in everyday life.

At the end of this emotional meeting, Sister Celestina, thanking everyone for their participation, proposed to pray together the Our Father, thus strengthening in the present the desire for fraternity that allows us to overcome the indifference and individualism from which our society is not exempt. And, in order not to drop this desire with the return to a frenetic life, before returning home everyone received a card with the prayer taught by Jesus as a way to remember that we are all children of a Father who asks us to take care of each other”.


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