Franciscan Youth Meet Pledges to be Instruments of Peace
Bengaluru/Chennai: The Franciscan Youth Meet (FRAYME) 2020 has taken a pledge to be instruments of peace. “We, the Franciscan youth pledge that we shall be instruments of peace in our families, parishes and the society”, stated a resolution after the Meet. More than 300 youth coming from across different states of India on the occasion took the oath to spread peace among all sections of society. The Youth Meet which was unique in itself was held at St. Sebastian’s Parish, Madhavaram, Chennai, from January 31 to February 2.
The Secretariat for Evangelization and Mission of the OFM Franciscans India ventured a new initiative of bringing together the youth of Franciscan Parishes in India in order to impart the Franciscan values and motivate them to participate actively in the life of the parish, said Fr. John Sekar OFM who is part of the team to take care of the youth.
The youth from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and young Franciscans from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu gathered to experience the Franciscan joy of Brotherhood and Sisterhood and to interact with one another from diverse parishes, Fr Sekar added.
In his keynote address, Fr. Praveen inspired by ‘Christus Vivit’ of Pope Francis, called on the youth to affirm oneself of God’s personal love for each one, to discern and trust in God’s plan for one’s life and to be always ‘online’ with God, never to give up. With those words of motivation and appreciation for the initiative, he declared FRAYME 2020 open.
The event began on January 31 evening with the host youth of St. Sebastian’s Parish leading the procession of the Franciscan San Damiano Cross followed by a veneration. Fr. Praveen D’Souza OFM, Minister Provincial, Fr. Charles Bernard OFM, Vicar Provincial, Fr. Bala Marneni OFM, ministering in St. Philip Catholic Church, USA and Fr. Joy K. Devassy OFM, Franciscan Missions -Waterford along with the representatives of the youth lighted the lamp marking the inauguration of the three-day Franciscan Youth Meet.
About 16 different groups of Franciscan parish youth and young Franciscans introduced themselves to the gathering in a ‘creative’ manner highlighting the activities of their parishes and the culture of the State. Gathered for the Eucharist in the newly constructed St. Sebastian’s Church, the youth participated with dedication singing songs in their own languages. Fr. Charles Bernard, in his homily, presenting the life story of St. Francis urged the youth to pray, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”.
The youth assembled in the Church for ‘Praise and Worship’ in the morning on February 1, sang hymns of praise, prayed the Psalms, read the Scripture and raised the intercessions to God. Dr Dominic, in speaking about the role of youth in the church today, gave a personal testimony about Christ Jesus in his life and how he has been strengthened in his own faith. He invited the FRAYME participants to remain open for the encounter with the Lord and to stand for faith always with courage and strength. Dr Anand, a motivational speaker from Hyderabad animated the FRAYME participants creatively to understand the potential of youthfulness and to channelize their energy in realizing who they are meant to be in the world. Rolling out a roadmap for such a journey, Dr Anand enthused the youth with his words of motivation and encouragement.
FRAYME participants sitting in groups of their own languages shared as to how they could plan their career and how they could contribute to their parishes. The youth were immensely appreciated for their enthusiastic sharing and their sincerity to contribute more towards the development of Parish and especially how they could be instruments of peace in the society by reaching out to the wounded, left-out, needy and poor.
In the footprints of St. Francis of Assisi, the FRAYME participants took out a Peace March of three kilometres with lighted candles, holding placards calling for peace and singing the hymns of being instruments of peace in different languages. The sight of more than three hundred FRAYME youth along with many others walking and singing for peace created the curiosity of the onlookers – many asking the youth the reason behind such a march. This was an opportunity to explain a little about St. Francis and the need for Peace. Later, gathered in the church for adoration, the youth prayed for the world peace and harmony.
Celebrating the Consecrated Life on February 2, Fr Vincent Chinnadurai, the Episcopal Vicar for Religious in the Archdiocese of Chennai expressed happiness for FRAYME 2020 and greeted the participants in the name of the Archbishop. As the diocese itself has declared this year as the year of youth, he said, it was only fitting that the FRAYME 2020 was held in Chennai. Fr. Kasi Rayappa, an Eco-Activist from the diocese of Vellore, spoke to the youth about the increasing need for eco-care, a major concern of St. Francis and the Franciscans worldwide. He appealed to the youth that becoming instruments of peace was not possible without sufficient care and activism towards the environment. Ms Mahalaxmi, a Corporate Leader and Media Professional, spoke to the youth about the advantages and disadvantages of social networking sites, the problem of addiction, time spent for ‘screen space’ and other aspects such as fake news, trolls and abuses. She then called for ‘adaptability quotient’ in order to better deal with the media.
Ms Vinci from the Kanakankalam sharing about her experience said, “I was delighted to meet the fellow-youth from different parishes and get to know them. I have become richer now with new friendships.” Ms Hepshipa from Madurai expressed, “the time of prayer, input sessions and DJ evenings lit up the life to heights in those three days.” Mr Alex who hosted the youth in his house along with many other parishioners of St. Sebastian’s Parish recounted, “the youth staying in my house were not just guests, they were like my children. I did what I was supposed to do for my children, taking good care of them during these three days. As a parishioner, I did my duty.”
Proposing the vote of thanks, Fr. Simon OFM, the host Parish Priest recollected the exuberant joy, energetic presence and spirited atmosphere of the three-day FRAYME 2020 and thanked everyone who made those days possible. Fr. Praveen, in his concluding address, who was present for all the three-day FRAYME 2020, encouraged the youth to put together their efforts, talents and skills to build a renewed Church with vigour for life. He also requested the youth to be instruments of peace starting with their relationships speaking always the language of love. He also announced that FRAYME 2021 will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Ramnagar, Hyderabad. Mr Anthony from Dindigul summing up the programme said, “I learned God, experienced sister/brotherhood and enjoyed sumptuous food.”