06 September 2017
Movements - Communities

Thirty-Five Years Evangelizing Young People

Pope Francis meets three thousand, young and less young members of the Shalom Catholic Community, on the anniversary of its foundation

Abandoning narcissism, getting out of one’s shell, giving oneself and entering into dialogue with the generation of the elderly who know how to convey the wisdom of life—that is the challenging mandate that Pope Francis gave to the young people of the Shalom Catholic Community at the audience on Monday, September 4th, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its foundation.

In response to the questions asked by Juan (from Chile), Justine (from France), and Mateus (from Brazil), the Pope exhorted these young people to “go out and share with others... and to tell others that God is good, that God is waiting for you even in the worst moments of life.” Francis invited the participants to avoid looking in the mirror while escaping the tentacles of narcissism and drugs, “because the mirror is deceiving,” but to keep their feet on the ground and stay rooted in reality.

“Are you aware of the true bonds that you have in your heart, aware of your roots, aware of your love, aware of your projects, aware of your creative abilities, aware that you are poets called to create new and beautiful things in this universe?” To the community’s seniors he gave the task of “passing on the torch, the inheritance, the charisma.”

The Shalom Catholic Community was born in Fortaleza (Brazil), when Moysés de Azevedo responded to the call to evangelize young people by opening a room where they could gather freely not only to eat a sandwich or a pizza but also to talk and seek advice and help. That experience gave rise to the first prayer meetings, to the first missions among the young, and to all the other initiatives that made the community grow. Having developed in different countries around the world, in 2007, the Community was recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity as an international association of faithful.

These days, nearly three thousand young members of the Community are celebrating a convention in Rome, which includes a pilgrimage to some Roman basilicas and to Assisi. In the afternoon of Tuesday, September 5th, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery, celebrated Holy Mass for the participants who were meeting in the Auditorium of the Conciliation. He exhorted the young people to receive Jesus’ authoritative word, which is different from all others, and not to be afraid of following him: “Do not be afraid to take the right direction and to follow the Lord!” “Many of these evangelizers of the future—said the Cardinal—are perhaps present today, here in this Eucharistic celebration.”

The convention, with times of prayer, formation, culture, and art, will continue until Saturday, September 9th, when Moysés will make the conclusions and give to these young people the missionary mandate to evangelize the young.