Report on the Eurolink Meeting by Ann Sieuw, Flanders and Member of the Euroteam
Slovenia, 22 – 25 October 2015
We met at Sveth Duh, a small village in the north of Slovenia. The place had a promising name for our meeting: Holy Spirit! We also loved the name of the house, Hisa Kruha, the ‘House of Bread’, a very homely Convent of the Ursuline Sisters, as our wish was to try and set up a ‘nourishing’ experience where the participants could find food for thought and for sharing their desire to feel part of the one apostolic body of CLC. Our warm thanks to Sr. Irena and the Sisters for their kind hospitality and care. Thinking back to the European Assembly in Regensburg, we felt we wanted to organise a meeting on Youth. The Assembly identified this as the first priority for the Euro Team to address. In order not to talk about young people but to listen to them and learn from their experiences and needs, many Euro Links came to the meeting with a young person from their community or a young adult involved in youth programmes.
The idea proved fruitful, with quite a few young people taking active part in the presentation of good practices, in group work and common sharing, all very friendly and cooperative! Sixteen countries were present with 12 young people, and then: members of CLC Slovenia, Denis Dobbelstein for the World Exco, the Euro Team with our new Ecclesiastical Assistant,Fr. Vincent Magri sj from Malta, and Fr. Nikolaas Sintobin sj from Belgium Flanders as the main speaker. We greatly enjoyed the warm welcome and co-operation of the Slovenian community: their help with arrival and departure trips, their friendship and thoughtfulness and a pleasant and relaxing social evening at the house were a landmark and one of the highlights of our meeting. We are very grateful for their co-operation and support.
With Youth our focus, we wanted to try to bring some ‘fruit’ to the scarcity of young people in most European communities, with the happy and blessed exceptions of Portugal, Spain and France, whose participants presented positive experiences and formation programmes in their communities. Participants also found some inspiring material in their folders for personal prayer and reflection: extracts from the message of Pope Francis for the 30th World Youth Day, some excerpts from his apostolic exhortation 'The Joy of the Gospel' and remarks of the Pope to young people in Cuba and Paraguay. For all the participants it was very interesting and stimulating to listen to Fr. Nikolaas Sintobin’s presentation of his use of You Tube as a modern way of promoting spiritual experience, awareness and development. We tried out this innovative input in its very well structured moments of viewing, of guided silence, reflection and short sharing in pairs.
It’s a creative way of enhancing spirituality, an excellent way of reaching young, and not so young, people’s sensitivity and culture. Needless to say, leading the experience needs a solid spiritual background, formation and methodology; but if you are interested in it and would like to read more about it, you can go to www.seeingmore.org
The programme was dense, trying to offer participants also coming from far, as much as we could. So we took the time to enjoy a sightseeing walk in Ljubljana, where we visited the town. A detail of the bronze doors of its cathedral shows a multitude of believers 'sprouting out' of a tree whose roots start from a baptismal font - a good reminder of our Christian vocation. The monumental cemetery area of Zale keeps wonderful mosaics by Rupnik, the Jesuit priest and mosaicist whose luminous and essential works provide a sense of wonder and meditation.
We all posed for a grateful photo in this beautiful and meaningful place. We enjoyed times of guided prayer and common sharing, a daily Liturgy with songs and readings in different languages, some personal time and a pleasant social evening with traditional Slovenian music, songs and dance. In this creative experience, where youth and age related well together, CLCers showed love in action; a great sense of community and desire to pass on the Good News; excitement for how much joy and generosity was shown to serve in CLC.; how much the Lord can achieve through us. These days have shown me that there is hope and we have, as CLC, to perpetuate the treasure of CLC with our life testimony. Thanks to God for making this possible.