From our sister Lucile NZIGIRE, in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo
I was overjoyed when I arrived for holiday in my family and heard from the Abbot Chaplain to the young people in my home parish that the 16th Diocesan Youth Days (JDJ) for all 42 parishes in Bukavu Archdiocese would be held from 26 to 30 July in Murhessa. I quickly offered to accompany the young people from my parish and I don’t regret taking part in it at all.
These diocesan days helped me to get closer to young people, to listen to them, to re-discover some of the challenges facing young people in my country and to share my missionary experience with some young people and some religious sisters and priests from our Archdiocese, especially those who didn’t know me at all. I was staying with the Daughters of Mary Sisters, who had given me the opportunity to go on mission in Mauritania.
The main theme of these Youth Days was: “Mary arose and went as quickly as she could…..” (Luke 1:39) and the motto was “Let us love one another”. .
There prevailed a great atmosphere of joy, reunion and fraternity. The young people were very happy to meet, sing, play and dance together. Creative evenings, Bible competitions and other games were also on the programme. Each day there were two themes developed and time to ask questions and even share their concerns. Here are a few of the themes developed:
– The place and role of young people in the forthcoming electoral process in the Congo: accompanying young people so that they don’t allow themselves to be manipulated by sellers of dreams who do nothing but ruin the country.
– Youth entrepreneurship: encouraging young people to work at all levels to get them out of the problems of idleness, alcohol, drugs and other current problems.
– The sacrament of reconciliation: why do young people no longer go to confession?
– The challenges of new technology and its impact on friendships between boys and girls today.
There were more than 5,000 young people, almost all of whom were staying with host families.
On the first day, it was touching to hear some of the parents say “I’ve come to fetch my children”, and even the poorest families who were furthest from the parish were delighted to welcome them. At the end of the Youth Days, the young people really appreciated their stay with the host families, and said, “we had a wonderful experience of brotherhood, love and great generosity, thoughtfulness and hospitality.” Some of the families woke up at 3am to prepare breakfast for the young people who were staying with them. Every day, they left home on foot at 5am and arrived at the parish at 9.30am. Only the midday meal was offered to everyone in the parish after Mass.
As usual, the closing Mass was celebrated by Mgr. Maroy, Archbishop of Bukavu, who in his speech thanked all the families who had welcomed the young people and all the people who for 16 years have been committed to organizing the Youth Days. In a beautiful ceremony, the young people from the parish of Murhessa, who had just organized the 2023 YDC, passed on a large cross and the icon of the Virgin Mary to the young people of Burhale, who will be preparing the 2024 YDC. Throughout the year, this cross and the YDC icon will be passed around all the basic Christian communities in the parish until the next YDC.
This is the 2nd time I’ve taken part in the Diocesan Youth Days in our Archdiocese. These Youth Days help young people on their journey and in their commitment in the Church and society.