The Barnabites and young people after Covid

To the Barnabite brothers.

The 125th anniversary of the canonization of St. Antonio Maria Zaccaria, thanks to the teaching of some of our illustrious fathers, introduced us to the living heart of our Founder to learn how to become witnesses of Christ here and now, not in the 16th century!

Together with a cultural and spiritual preparation we have tried to reach you in order to reflect on young people, because they are our future. Unfortunately, very few of you have given answers: too busy or too disinterested in thinking about your own pastoral service to young people? Maybe afraid of thinking, praying and proposing at the same time?

The service for young people should still be the way to characterize our being Barnabite priests, and yet there is a lack of shared reflection that must make us think.

The Covid pandemic has touched all of our realities as it had never happened in the past: we must look together for answers and new paths as never before, because we cannot simply start from where we stopped.

Certainly it is not possible to find new answers and paths in just two years, but they can be searched, investigated, proposed. Also because, as you highlighted in your replies, Covid has actually caused damages: fear, isolation, little trust in adults, greater use of smartphones, relationship fatigue. The almost complete recovery of daily activities has left many … at home and others – especially teenagers – with a bitter taste in their mouth. In Europe, in addition, the situation of the war in Ukraine is continuing this drama.

With regard to the denunciation of the Archbishop of Milan, Mario Del Pini: “Young people no longer perceive the Church as an interlocutor for their questions, the Church experiences this as a defeat: we have lost a bet.”; but also to the hope of the Archbishop of Hong Kong, Stephen Chow: “There is a need for a vision. And there is a need to understand the present and the context. Don’t look at the walls, look at the future. »: We cannot act alone.

Starting from these assumptions: defeat and vision, we want to try to let ourselves be moved by the Zaccharian vigor of the beginning which, despite the short life of the Founder, was not in vain: moving with continuity on the path that the vocation of each of us is called to live. The confreres who responded highlighted the need of young people to be listened to, to be taken with attention and seriousness; I wonder: how do we listen to young people? From the Philippines to Brazil, everyone is asking to enhance a renewed missionary style.

This new missionary style is recognized as typical of our charism, but it must be thought and rethought and prayed together, with a synodal spirit and method that becomes a life testimony, especially because our forces have decreased.

Perhaps we should think more about the two words: defeat and vision, and in this we should be helped by the defeats and visions of our Antonio Maria and his first collaborators. This is also the line indicated by the recent Synod of Youth, which is not archived.

Thanks to Fathers Giovanni Giovenzana from Eupilio, Giorgio Viganò from Cremona, Giuseppe di Nardo from Bari, Michael Sandalo from Silangan, Junior Cavalcante from Belem, Ferdinand Mushagalusa from Moucron and Carlo Giove from Naples, Pascal Balumebaciza Pilipili from Buenos Aires.

p. Fabien M. Muvuny,

p. Giannicola M. Simone, Youth Ministry Office of the Barnabite Fathers. May 27, 2022