Within the framework of the World Youth Day and the pilgrimage of several young people from different parts of the world to Panama City, the International Encounter of Young Lasallians was held on Tuesday, January 22 at the De La Salle School, in the El Cangrejo neighborhood. The goal was to come together as a Lasallian family to celebrate fraternity and share the joy of our vocations. This as part of the year of Lasallian vocations.
Around 600 young people participated between companions and volunteers (artists, animators, speakers, panelists, etc.) from different Districts. 100 from México North, 44 from Antilles-México South, 8 from Lasallian Association of Spain and Portugal (ARLEP), 330 from Central America-Panama, 87 from France, 14 from the USA Midwest and 20 from other Districts such as Norandino, Brazil-Chile, Peru – Bolivia and Argentina –Paraguay.
The host of this great event was the District of Central America-Panama. To do this, the District Council created an organizing committee composed of Brothers and lay people. The organization of the meeting lasted approximately two years for which personal and virtual meetings were held. Subsequently, subcommittees were created to encourage different activities. In addition, there was the support of the General Council, the Community of RELAL Regional Animation (CAR), the Brother Visitor and his District Council, the District Pastoral Commission and the District Office of Communications of Central America-Panama; as well as the Institute of the Guadalupanas Sisters of La Salle.
The day before the Encounter, the first pilgrims from different Lasallian Districts were welcomed. Some were of different places of the interior of Panama, coming from other in dioceses the day before.
The International Encounter of Young Lasallians was inaugurated with the words of the hosting Brother Visitor, Alberto Mairena Floripe, F.S.C., Who recalled the words of St. John Paul II: “Young people: commit yourselves humanly and Christianly to things that deserve effort, detachment and generosity”. After the inauguration, there was a of a Panamanian cultural display that included features of the native carnival and the World Youth Day.
In the development of the Meeting, a vocational panel was set off. This counted with different panelists who represented the diversity of Lasallian vocations. The purpose of this moment was to discover the points in common and the distances between vocations. Parallel to this activity, several conversations were held where the young people expressed their concerns, challenges and aspirations.
One of the most awaited moments for the pilgrims was the meeting with the Brother Superior General, Robert Schieler, F.S.C., who invited us to reflect on the words spoken by Mary when she was told that she would give birth to Jesus “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38)”. Inviting us to make our response through simple, practical and concrete actions with the poor. He also explained that a Jubilee Year offers the opportunity to express our commitment to Jesus and his desire that all people experience the fullness of life through our attitudes. It ended by motivating us to think about the difference that one million young Lasallians in the world can make by being more kind and compassionate.
During the second day a variety of vocational testimonies was carried out. This moment was enriched by personal and community experience by Brothers and lay people from different Lasallian Districts. At the end of the day, the Eucharist was lived with Panamanian cultural details that invited to make alive the word of God.
The young Lasallians who participated will be committed to bringing this message of encounter and fraternity to their communities and groups; remembering the words of Pope Francis at the close of the World Youth Day: “You are the “present moment” of God.”