Testimony of Fr. Fernando, Potugal – GA2010
VMY – THIRD GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ROOTED IN CHRIST, SOWERS OF HOPE
In the month of August 2010, according to meteorologists, it was one of the hottest months of the past few years. It was also one of the “hottest” for the members of the Vincentian Marian Youth of Portugal in its 26 years history, because from the August 1 to the 6, in the Spiritual Retreat House of Turcifal, of the Lisbon Patriarch, the III General Assembly took place, convoked under the theme “Rooted in Christ, sowers of hope” young adults from the whole world met. We had representatives from 38 countries, with 157 participants, 58 had the right to vote, plus translators and volunteers. Almost all the delegations had two young adults, an adviser and the national adviser. Let me make a special reference to the Cuban delegation, which had major difficulties, and were represented, with one young adult and a Daughter of Charity. It was with great joy that we state, with the exception of Oceania, all continents were represented.
After all the formalities were done: verification of the quorum, the election of the commissions, the presentation and the approval of the Assembly directory; we continued with the general presentation, given by the President and the Council, concerning the first reports of the status of the Association around the world.
We saw, as I sure many of your reading this already guessed, that the Vincentian Marian Youth Association, has grown a lot over the last few years, overall in Latin America the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. In Africa there are signs of growth and the same is happening in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, is truly alive, even though they can escape the difficulties imposed by the cultural and religious context they live in. In the southern European countries, we can say they are suffering from a common reality: there is a diminishing number of youth inscribed and who participate in the activities of the association. It is evident that VMY life is much more than numbers statistics can give us. This is what we perceived, in the work carried out by the language groups. As we shared in the passageways, in our reflections in our spare time, were we felt that the Vincentian Spirit felt alive in a close manner as the day passed by.
On the second day, Fr. Ramzi CM, from Lebanon, gave a conference titled “Like Mary, rooted in Christ”. He started with the gospel text of the Wedding at Canaa, and challenged us towards a new Mariology. We told us that consecrate ourselves to Mary, is accept her as our mother, so that she can accompany us on our pilgrimage of faith; it is to ask her to help us to be active in our poverty and to let us be loved, to maintain a passive attitude in the activity and to do what He tells us to do. “Jesus shows us that the emptiness that the death of a loved one leaves or that a difficulty can leave can only be compensated by an eternal love.” Our sins and suffering are the meeting place with him. And Mary is the “meeting place”, she organizes that meeting between Jesus and ourselves. She takes each of us from the world and presents us to her son. She does not take our prayers, intentions, needs; she takes us, because she knows that the grace which we truly need is to meet with Jesus.
We started our third day with a Eucharist, which left its indelible mark upon us all because of dynamic and linguistic diversity. This was one of the greatest aspects. Back in the auditorium we heard the talk titled “Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac rooted in Christ”, given by Sister María Ángeles Infante DC in which she explained how Saint Vincent and Saint Louise lived their being rooted in Christ and their relationship with Christ; after this, by language groups, we reflected and talked about how to bring young adults to God.
On the fifth day, we met with someone who is very dear to VMY, Eva Villar, an old member of VMY and a member of MISEVI (Vincentian Lay Missionaries), who came to share a talk title “Vincentians rooted in Christ”. She told us that it would not be talk, but a testimony of a group of convictions: 1) To be a Christian is to opt for the poor, and this makes us Vincentians; 2) It is necessary to be truly of Jesus Christ to opt for the poor; 3) Each one of us must discover their mission in this world. 4) We have to be happy with the election made… It was a strong moment because of the strength of the testimony.
One of the most anticipated moments in this type of Assemblies is the election of its President and the International Council. Father Gregory led us in the afternoon to a moment of reflection and discernment, so that we may be guided by the Holy Spirit, opening up to its presence, and discovers the will of God. Yasmine Cajuste from VMY of Haiti was reelected. The next afternoon the rest of the Council was elected. We were able to carry out one of the recommendations made about the International Council, so that there may a geographical distribution of the Councilors, one for each continent.
We finalized the Third general Assembly, like it had to happen, at the Sanctuary of Fatima at the feet of Mary.
In the name of the VMY, I would like to thank the Congregation of the Mission and overall the Daughters of Charity, for their logistical help in the realization of this Assembly.
The final document states that the young adults have finalized the Third General Assembly with a fist full of seeds to sow hope in any place. With the grace of God and the efforts made by our hands, we hope that the seeds made grow strongly and be deeply rooted in Christ, throughout the next five years. The moment is now!
Fr. Fernando, CM