By Brother Rudolf D'Souza
LONAVLA, APR 18, 2017: Twenty-four youth and two religious participated in the annual Youth Pasch organised by Don Bosco Youth Services, Mumbai at Don Bosco Lonavla from April 12 to 16.
Father Cleophas Braganza, Father McEnroe Lopes, Father Ajoy Fernandes, Father Valerian Pereira and Father Leon Cruz were the animators, assisted by Brother Rudolf D'Souza, Brother Jansen Vaz, Charmaine Moraes and Pearl D'Souza.
The Pasch began on Wednesday evening with a commitment session where the participants shared their expectations for the programme and also decided upon an individual commitment. They later watched the film Gallows Road which portrays a story of family love, solidarity and forgiveness in times of extreme hate and desire for vengeance.
The morning of Maundy Thursday began with the participants washing each others' feet to relive Jesus' humble act before his betrayal and passion. Many were moved by this gesture and were better able to understand Jesus' message of service that characterises the washing of feet.
Father Pereira conducted a session on Love and Relationships using appropriate images based on Pope Francis' encyclical Amoris Laetitia. The Exodus experience helped the youth reflect on the difficult circumstances in their own lives and how they experienced God's saving help like the people of Israel. The afternoon saw the participants busy preparing for the evening liturgy which included, besides the washing of the feet, the Jewish Seder Meal for Passover.
On Good Friday, for the morning meditation the participants were taken around the campus while reflecting on the parable of the Prodigal Son. Through sincere sharing the participants expressed their own moments of living like the prodigal son and yet experiencing the immense love of the father on returning to Him.
The input session on Brokenness and Forgiveness in families by Father Fernandes invited the participants to reflect on situations where mercy and forgiveness were seen or practiced. The Labyrinth Prayer Garden helped them reflect on their own life and let go of burdens to find peace.
All this enabled the participants to prepare scenes for a personalised Way of the Cross later that evening as part of the Good Friday liturgy. After making their confessions, the participants nailed chits of paper - containing their faults and sinful habits - on the very cross they carried for the Way of the Cross.
On Holy Saturday morning, the participants removed the chits from the cross and burned them, symbolically signifying the forgiveness of their sins. The input session on Death and New Life by Father Braganza made the youth reflect on family situations and choices for life, hope and newness.
After this, the participants were made to face the reality of death through a creative session conducted by Father Lopes. The participants spent the evening preparing the Easter Vigil liturgy. After the holy Eucharist, the group continued the celebration over a cup of hot cocoa and Easter eggs.
They also had an appreciation session where they wrote a thankful recognition for each other on a paper T – shirt which doubled as a souvenir for the Youth Pasch 2017. The youth returned to their homes to live and share the Paschal experience among their friends and families.