As reported earlier in CITOC (36/2021), the young people in the Americas did not let covid restrictions stop them from coming together and “hearing the voice of Jesus Christ.” And they never left their homes!
On July 4, approximately 600 people, including 400 young people in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Perú, El Salvador, México, Argentina, Chile, the United States of America, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Italy, and Spain connected via the internet to celebrate “The Youth of Jesus.”
The prior general, Fr. Míċéal O'Neill, spoke to the group about the Carmelite charism assisting their spiritual journey, to become young in prayer, contemplation, and compassion—ultimately inspiring them to work on building a more just world.
For Fr. Luis Maza, General Councilor of the Americas, the day was “exciting, full of joy with a sense of family. There was also a deep sense of hope.”
Argentina had 22 members participating. They came away from the day with a sense of urgency to further develop the Carmelite Youth in their country. The leadership in Venezuela, with 55 participants, reacted to the exuberance of the meetings. “I was very happy to see the enthusiasm of the young people, the fraternal atmosphere. It was interesting to put faces to JUCAR America.
The day touched many of the youth as well. For Nair Cinthia Ortega Daza from Tarija, Bolivia, it was her first experience with Jucar América. She said she felt motivated discovering that many young people do live the Carmelite charism, growing in prayer, contemplation, and compassion. “The goal is to better our spiritual lives with the guidance of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in order to follow the way of Jesus,” said Nair.
For Charly Aguilar from Ilobasco, El Salvador, the day was an opportunity to experience the excitement of being with young people from all around the Americas. “Given the tough times we are living in because of the Covid-19 pandemic, God allowed us to be part of this great event. For me it was a wonderful learning experience as we shared the theme of the youth of Jesus.”
For Eduar González it was a truly spiritual experience. “The love and grace of the Most Holy Trinity was present each minute of the delivery of love experienced through JUCAR. It was God, young and alive, that flooded into my life, to be able to see so many brothers and sisters in Carmel giving the same response that Mother Mary gave when she said “Yes” to God."
“It has been fascinating to meet other young Carmelites. It was like a small Pentecost, because we are from different countries, speak different languages and live in different cultures. Yet we prayed, laughed, sang, and learned together as one,” said César Díaz from José Galvez, Perú. “I felt that “cozy warmth” of the Carmelite Family. My feeling only increased when our prior said of JUCAR 'they are here because in Carmel they have found their spiritual home.’ The whole meeting has been fascinating!”
“Seeing each face and listening to people thousands of miles away who share the same goal … we were excited to be there, with our hearts on fire and joyful, sharing opinions and feelings for Carmel, feeling the embrace of the brothers at a distance. Seeing their big smiles said everything,” wrote Alessandra Judith Mireles Atilano from Torréon, México. “It was a most beautiful experience, sharing my feelings and listening to others share. The experience taught me that my JOCARM (Young Carmelites of Mexico) is not alone, that we have brothers and sisters in many other places. Above all, we are in a common project. Seeing Carmel flower in each person was an experience that I would like to repeat many more times!”
At a follow-up meeting of the directors of JUCAR America on July 23, the evaluation of July 4 was basically positive. There was a high level of participation by the young people. The theme of the day, “The Youth of Jesus,” appeared interesting and engaging to the young people.
The coming months will be very busy as additional gathering get planned. JUCAR will be participating in the FOCAM (Formation of Carmelites in the Americas) meeting on August 28. On September 2-4 the Carmelites in Venezuela will hosting a Carmelite Youth Meeting. (This is intended for young lay men and women.) A Meeting of JUCAR on the American Continent will be held on November 14. Details remain to be worked out but three youth from each country will be chosen to work on organizing the event.
Coordinators of formation for JUCAR America, reflecting on the future, see the possibility of the young people becoming true protagonists in their communities. “There will be a much more active participation, as well as energy and commitment to transform our America into a home of fraternity, prayer, and contemplation. This will not only be in the religious realm but in the social, cultural, and political as well. Other see this youth movement firming up the ties between the various national groups. “It would be beautiful to celebrate Carmel together like this! We could exchange cultures, languages, and more.”
“Unquestionably, the movement is of the Spirit. In five years I see a consolidated movement throughout the Americas. The young people speak with prophetic voices. Perhaps in the future there will be matrimonies, or priestly and religious vocations that emerge from this movement.” It is a work of the Spirit.