Taking Care of the Poor and the Earth: The First National JPIC Camp in Italy for Friars and Youths

On August 22-26, 2017, a group of young people and friars from all over Italy participated at the first national JPIC Camp in in Palermo, Italy.  Br. Francesco Zecca, OFM, JPIC Animator from Salento, recounts the event below:


As Friars Minor of Italy, we have been looking for better communication with the youth on the values of JPIC. So we were thinking to propose to youths aged 18 to 35 a chance of formation on the JPIC values, encounter with witnesses and service of the poorest.

All this happened in Palermo, August 22-26. 20 young people and 9 friars from different parts of Italy have participated. The title we chose was “To Take Care”,  a journey that starts with God who takes care of His children, arrives to human beings who are called to the image of the Father to take care of the brothers, the creation, and the society where they live.

The first experience was itineracy in the city. Every day we have set out to find stories of those who have tried to take the Gospel seriously in their daily life, from the story of Don Pino Puglisi, a “Father” for all those who tried to get out of the streets of crime, was killed by the mafia in 1993 to Br. Biagio Conte, a young man from a wealthy family who, after a human and spiritual crisis, left his “world” and began to take care of the brothers “who are left behind (by the society)”, setting up in Palermo the mission “Hope and Charity”, that welcomes about a thousand brothers and sisters every day.

Among other brothers have also been involved in this movement are the friars of the “Holy Land” friary who carry on various social activities, including the soup kitchen on the road and the ceramic workshop; to the social tailoring “Al Revés”, which promotes employment and creative commitment of those who need “an opportunity to improve themselves” for life.

In the days of the camp, both the young and the brothers, were engaged in dedicating each day to the service at the mission “Hope and Charity”, as a concrete sign of taking care for and serving the brothers and sisters, who also took care of us by giving us a kind word, a smile or sharing their stories.

At the end of the camp, we were all happy with the beautiful experience we had, which aimed to make the Gospel closer and more intimate to our daily life, not by doing superheroes but, as Pope Francis said in Laudato Si’, because “the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them”(No. 217).

These lines doesn’t fully express the experience of grace that the Lord has made us live, because some people would never find words to express the richness of it, but they certainly want to be a hymn of praise to the Lord for what He has accomplished in our lives these days. So what better words are to be used to conclude this little sharing other than those of our Father St. Francis: “Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, and serve Him with great humility.”