Recently, my brothers and I were immersed in the preparation of three very intense weeks: two at the summer camp of our parish and one on a vacation in Chiloé with the young people from the parish.
In order to prepare for this time, we entrusted it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and we were subsequently surprised by how the Lord is truly at the heart of our initiative, working miracles.
An important presence during the summer camp were three Colombian seminarians who were sent by the diocesan seminary. Their witness of profound faith and forgiveness – one of them recounted how he had forgiven the Colombian guerrillas who had assassinated his father and had started to pray for them- was a decisive encounter for all of us and for the kids. After hearing this witness, one of the high schoolers returned to the sacraments, saying: “Seeing up close that it is possible to forgive made me believe that God truly exists.”
During the final assembly of the summer camp – which was entitled “Follow the Star”, in reference to Mary, the protagonist of this year’s camp – another kid shared: “I cried tears of happiness seeing something like this, which filled my heart. I know that this experience will not remain just a nice thought, but that it will stay in my memory”.
In a similar way, at the end of the vacation in Chiloé (a stupendous island that is 1000 km south of Santiago) after five days spent together, with moments of prayer, silence, visits to beautiful places and games, we were incredibly surprised by something that happened. On the last day, the kids approached us in droves asking to go to confession, after long periods passed in indifference. I brought back home the emotion of being in front of an event that only God can make happen: the opening of these kids to the faith, a work of Grace, one to which we can give all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. The spectacle of hearts, conquered by Him, that open spontaneously to God to ask him for forgiveness, reminded me that the flowering and reflowering of souls is still possible and is given gratuitously, by the work of Grace which we priests are called to invoke and to incarnate.
A place of guided companionship, with ordered gestures full of significance, proposed with liberty and radicality, was and continues to be the condition for the flourishing of these kids, as it is for each one of us.