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The third meeting of Serata Laudato si’ took place together with the seventh celebration of the Franciscan Youth Missions in the city of Xaxim. It was promoted by the Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception of Brazil, bringing 800 young people together for five days to reflect on the care of our Common Home (from 29th January to 2nd February 2020).

This year, a group of friars from Argentina and Rio Grande do Sul, led by friars from the Province of St. Francis of Assisi, were present in addition to the young people of the Province. There were five days of great energy in this event which was evangelising, cultural, formative and celebratory. Numerous workshops dealt with themes related to the ministry of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), with questions of ecology, justice, migration, respect for nature, good living and simplicity, values so characteristic of the Franciscan charism, which is much needed in our times.

The prayer times recalled and decried the neglect of Mother Earth by humankind. In the evening prayer, on the first day, three young people lay down in the mud in a makeshift pool to remember the tragedies produced by the mega-mining in “Mariana” and “Brumadinho”. With movements, they showed desperate people in search of rescue. “This tragedy, which has victimised so many families, is synonymous with murder. It is synonymous with greed, which has generated so many deaths. It is synonymous with bodies that are not buried by their families,” said Br. Diego Melo, Promoter of Vocations and JPIC.

The training in the first days was intense. Br Jaime Campos, director of the General Office for JPIC, showed how this service is structured in the Order and all the Conferences in the world. He explained how it works to build a world where everyone can live as family, in love. Br. Jaime also spoke of the “Laudato si’ Revolution”, an initiative that will involve the whole Order throughout the world.

The anthropologist and lay Franciscan, Moema Miranda SFO, who was at the Synod for the Amazon held in Rome, also spoke about Laudato si’ for our days, as well as its practical consequences in our lives. The youth coordinator in Brazil of the World Catholic Climate Movement, Igor Bastos, who is also a member of YouFra (Franciscan Youth), spoke about the importance of youth leading evangelisation.

On Friday and Saturday, the 800 young people were divided into family homes in 38 communities. They were able to experience hands-on practice of the themes chosen for this Mission: “And God saw that everything was very good” and “Guardians of relationships with God, with others and with our common home”.

The young people met again on Sunday at the closing Mass. The Vicar Provincial, Br. Gustavo Medella, presided over the celebration and, in sending the young people home, asked them to be the presence of the “Jesus of the people”. In the ceremony, a young person shaved the head of another, to indicate the evil generated by pesticides. A wooden cross near the church was set on fire and, according to Br. Gustavo, “It is also our request for forgiveness. Christ was again crucified for our actions that destroy and attack our common home”.

There were acknowledgements, emotions and much gratitude, especially to the people who received the missionaries with great affection. According to Br. Diego, a tree is known for its fruits. “The Franciscan tree is filling this world with fruit”.