"It is certain that when charity abides in a soul it takes entire possession of all its powers; charity allows it no rest; it is an ever-growing fire." St. Vincent de Paul
The 2016 Vincentian Youth Days took place on 23rd – 26th July at the Radosna Nowina Centre in Piekary, Liszki, Poland. The gathering, themed "Vincentians Faithful to Mercy: yesterday, today, tomorrow,” saw 1300 young Vincentians from 35 countries coming together in fellowship, sharing, learning, prayer and celebration. At the center of the gathering was Christ and the unifying power and presence of the Holy Spirit among our young people on full display as they sang, danced, prayed, and even cried together despite the barriers of language, heat, and blistered feet. It was a beautiful experience to witness the outpouring of the Spirit in the celebration of the Sacraments, in the teaching of the faith and in sharing and learning with young people from all corners of the planet, who shared with each other their aspirations and the challenges as young Vincentians.
While social justice issues may often seem at odds with the materialistic culture reflected in modern society, this gathering reminded us that as young Vincentians and indeed as young people of faith, we are called to follow the teachings of Christ, exemplified so well by our patrons St. Vincent De Paul and Blessed Frederick Ozanam – to remind the world that “we belong” to each other and that we are called to love and serve our brothers and sisters. This is a call that has been taken up by Vincentians around the world, including the Australian delegation led by Cass Bull, whom we spent time sharing and learning from. Matt Kirkan shared that “the cultural festival has been an absolute highlight, as well as saying ‘The Our Father’ in many languages. It was really beautiful.”
It was truly remarkable how a group of complete strangers with a shared passion can make such an unexpected impact on your life, on your heart, and on how you see the world. Many of the young people gathered there shared this sentiment. Rebecca Pefkos, from the delegation, shared that her highlight was: “The unity and friendship was amazing. The singing in the breaks was really fun and taught us lots about other cultures.”
With the Vincentian gathering coming to a close, Vincentians from around the globe will now continue their spiritual journey during World Youth Day in Krakow. With open eyes, minds, hands and hearts, these young Vincentians from around the world have responded to the call to be a force for social justice as they continue to strive to be the hands and feet of our Lord.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)