Message for the launching of the guidelines for the mission with Youth
Rome 3 June 2023
Dear young people, it is with great joy that I greet all of you. I hope we can meet in person when I visit each of your countries in the coming years. For me this moment is much more than just a virtual meeting. My gratitude to the Commission for all their hard work throughout these years, in which they have produced these documents that I consider extremely important for our shared mission. I am also grateful for the work of all those who have made this meeting possible. I thank all of you for your efforts to participate, some of you with great sacrifice because of the time difference. From one part of the world to the other, and from morning to evening, we are gathered with a shared passion: that Jesus be proclaimed to the poorest and that the young people of our charismatic family play an active role in this mission.
These past few days, I have reflected on what happened in Aix when St. Eugene founded the Congregation of the Youth. In those days, St. Eugene, together with some young people, proclaimed the Good News to other young people. They all discovered that it was essential to create an association to strengthen their missionary action. That is why St. Eugene wrote the statutes expressing his missionary vision: to make young people fully human, Christian, and Saints.
On a day like today, Eugene and the young people met to read those statutes, discuss them, to pray, and to launch the Aix Christian Youth Association. I can only imagine the emotion of that first group of young people as they identified with the proposal that Saint Eugene was making: how much enthusiasm they must have felt to participate joyously as active members of the Association. How much generosity in putting those statutes into practice and how many missionary fruits were born from that first encounter?
Today, you are those young people gathered with St. Eugene and the entire charismatic family he started. You are the young from all parts of the world and you represent many others who may not have been able to be here today. You are gathering from various countries in Africa, America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. We are all children of St. Eugene, brothers and sisters, in this great family that the Holy Spirit gave to his Church, which began with St. Eugene and a group of young people. A great family with diverse charismatic expressions: lay people together with consecrated women and men. I hope that we all have those same feelings as those young people 200 years ago, that same passion, that same enthusiasm.
Today we will officially launch the guidelines for the mission with young people. This document is a tool that will be very useful and which has many resources to help develop our mission. This document is intended to serve everyone, especially young people, so that we can build our identity as missionaries of the poor and as members of a family that has produced so many saints in the Church. It must not be a dead document, it must be made flesh in the life of each one of us. Our own life will help us to make the document dynamic, always at the service of the mission, a living document that allows us to live the joy of the Gospel and the joy of being missionaries.
Even more important is to know that this document expresses the identity of our charism and reflects the missionary dream of St. Eugene and the first young people. Thus, it is also a document that defines communion among us. Communion also with all the generations of young people and Oblates who have felt the call to be missionaries in our charismatic family. How beautiful it is to know that we are treading new paths but following in the footsteps of all those young missionaries who have gone before us! How beautiful it is to think we are opening new paths for others who will come after us! Let us dare to be missionaries with the young! Let us be protagonists of this mission!
Dear young people, I have great confidence in you. I am convinced that you will help us to renew our charismatic family. As you know, young people and Oblates walked together in the first years of our existence. They shared moments of common prayer in the Oblate chapel in Aix; they shared games and moments of reflection. They shared their sorrows and their joys. Above all, they shared their common mission. Today, just like yesterday, you, young people, can help us renew our Christian identity and Oblate mission. I have so much hope in you that I dare to ask you to help with your enthusiasm all of us, Oblates, and the other members of our charismatic family to be missionary saints. I believe that St. Eugene himself, speaking through my words, entrusts this same mission to you: be the leaders in the renewal of our whole family and help us to be the most united missionary family on earth.
How do we do this? It’s all about living the Gospel to be fully human, Christian, and saint. It’s all about stepping out of our comfort zones and reaching out to other young people to show them they can be part of our missionary adventure. It’s all about helping each other respond to God’s will who wants what is good for all and excludes no one from his promise of salvation. It is as simple as allowing the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s dream for each of us. That is the purpose of these documents we place in your hands today. Thank you to each of you for daring to play an active role in this adventure.
Our last General Chapter invited us to be pilgrims of hope in communion. Let us all go together on this pilgrimage where Jesus meets us as he did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus—a missionary pilgrimage to give hope to the poor and the world. Together in communion with the young and the poor, we strive to live the joy of the Gospel. I ask the Lord to give us that same passion St. Eugene demonstrated for Jesus Christ, the Church, Mary, and the poor. May Mary accompany us with her maternal smile in our difficulties. May St. Eugene and all the Blessed Oblates, many of whom died very young, intercede for us and help us to renew the whole missionary family. Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate!