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Ignatian youth meeting in Portugal.

Around 40 Jesuits and more than 300 young people gathered in Cernache, Portugal between the 1st and 3rd September. The idea was to reflect together on Pope Francis’ recent visit to Fatima on the special occasion of the centenary of the apparitions.

The opening on Friday was as artistic as impressive, with music, canoes on the lake, lanterns, coloured powders and even fireworks. This introduced participants to the meeting’s theme: “I need to feel you close”, an appeal taken from Pope Francis’ message in Fatima. He then continues by inviting the Portuguese people to be “one heart and one mind” with him. For bedtime reflection, participants had a panel share its impressions and testimonies of the Pope’s visit.

Throughout the weekend, morning and evening prayers were a harmonious mixture of silence and music. An exceptional choir guided these moments, with all those gathered, singing and praying in perfect communion.

On Saturday morning, it was time for individual prayer followed by a moment of sharing in groups. Participants then had the chance to take part in one of the workshops, according to their age group. Topics varied greatly, ranging from the daily examen to ecology and from the Pope’s hidden prayer life to the refugee crisis.

At night, a vigil of adoration and reconciliation , united the group in prayer with Pope Francis, as together they contemplated God’s infinite mercy. The day ended with an open air concert, thanks to some in-house talents who put a very lively atmosphere.

On the last day, more people were invited to join the youth meeting. After talks to different age groups on the theme The Church, servant, as Christ, Father Provincial José Frazão Correia offered to give his testimony and answer to questions. Finally, the announced celebration and closure of the meeting was the ceremony of Fr José Maria Brito SJ’s last vows. A beautiful outdoor Holy Mass crowded with the three hundred participants plus his friends and family.

To sum up, a great weekend. Jesuits and youth gathered on the Pope’s request to be with him. On an environment of celebration and prayer, lots of encounters, re-encounters and emotions.

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