From December 2012 to December 2013 the Carmelite Youth in Spain (JUCAR) held a series of activities to mark the 25th Anniversary of its foundation. This celebration served as a point of reference for our origins, for studying our present, and for looking to the future.
Throughout the year, various activities took place that involved both former and current members of JUCAR. The activities organized to mark the 25th anniversary covered different levels. Thus, from a communal and experiential point of view, they organized a prayer service, and a prayer concert led by the music group “Karmel.” In addition, during this jubilee year, on the 16th of each month, a prayer to our Mother, the Virgin of Carmel, was offered, taking into consideration the liturgical year. On the other hand, on an audiovisual level, a traveling photo exhibition and a commemorative video were made that compiled the past and present of JUCAR. A blog was also created to serve as a channel of communication between the members of the different groups (http://25aniversariojucarbetica.blogspot.com.es). A logo, badges and t-shirts were designed to commemorate this special occasion. The 25th anniversary was marked with a closing Mass held in the monastery of Osuna, Seville, Spain on December 7, 2013.
It is important to remember that back in November or December 1987, the “post-confirmation” group of the parish and the school in Misterios laid out their future: After confirmation, what could they do? After much reflection and many inquiries, they came to be called “JUCAR” (Carmelite Youth). The name itself was not new. Apparently, there had already been Carmelite groups in Colombia and Venezuela with that name. In Italy, after the huge momentum that had led to the beatification of Father Titus Brandsma in 1985, the “Gioventù Carmelitana” was established with great drive. They were also inspired by a youth group that was then in the house of the Carmelites of Castile (in Pintor Ribera) called “Mount Carmel Group” and run by Fr. Matthias Tejerina.
The aim was the catechetical process and maturity in faith that did not end at Confirmation, but would instead follow a longer path that had a youthful air and was inspired by the charism and spirituality of Carmel. It was also intended that this group, and those who came after them, would be connected with other Carmelite youth groups throughout Spain, and even other countries. From the beginning, the JUCAR groups clearly had a Carmelite identity: in their symbols, their parties, their spirituality etc.
During the last 25 years, JUCAR gradually took shape and spread to all communities where youth ministry was present, especially in the schools and in some parishes. Currently, the movement is found in many parts of Spain. Cities such as Alicante, Antequera, Elda, Jerez, Madrid, Malaga, Murcia, Onda, Orihuela Osuna Quart de Poblet, Valladolid and Villarreal now have JUCAR youth groups. Previously, groups also existed in other cities like Seville and Zaragoza.
Today, JUCAR is a large family comprised of members of different ages, with children aged between 9 and 10 years being the youngest members. This movement has a clear catechetical spirit and an important experiential component, and its purpose is simply to serve as a means of transmission of the Word of God to today’s youth.
JUCAR not only grew in its faith formation but also in its community bonds, human development and social skills. Our movement gathers every Sunday for Mass and catechesis. Throughout the years, we organized camps and summer activities for young people in different geographic areas of Spain.
Also worth noting is the role that social justice plays in JUCAR. One of the proposed objectives of this movement is to show young people the social reality of our world and teach them not to remain indifferent to injustice. That is why each year, the various groups collaborate on projects of the Carmelite Order, either by organizing different fundraising activities or directly participating in these projects.
In the last few years, JUCAR has actively participated in the two great youth meetings held at the level of the Order: the pilgrimage of hope for European youth (Rome 2010), and the Carmelite meeting during WYD (Madrid 2011).
After 25 years, I think we can say, with great humility but also with healthy pride, that JUCAR has done a great service and has been a means for many young people to receive the Word of God and to be a little closer to Him. JUCAR has sown much and with great generosity. One does not always see the fruits of one’s labours, neither directly nor immediately. It has been, in its 25 years of existence, a good example that the Carmelite charism is still alive and is still successful, a true gift from God to the Church.
These 25 years are only a small milestone, one step in a long journey. We must look to the past to give thanks to God and to all who have made this possible, and also to look to the future with haste to get back on track. Young people do not hold back, nor do they stop.