Monday, 27 April 2015

Havana, Cuba - Peace is an art to be learned together, the young with the elderly

In these days following the announcement of the future journey of Pope Francis to Cuba, and in which the ongoing thaw between the Caribbean republic and the United States is one of the rare good news on the international scene, the island’s Community of Sant’Egidio is engaged in expanding its presence, in strengthening its friendship with the poor, in addressing the challenge of speaking to the new generations, communicating to all “the art of building peace”. 
This is the name of a solidarity campaign that the Jovenes por la Paz (Youth for Peace), the youth movement of Sant’Egidio, is promoting in various Cuban cities and in particular in the capital, Havana. 

Where Sant’Egidio is active among the young, substantially all around the world, a central theme is that of the solidarity among generations, of the friendship between the young and the elderly. The high school students choose to place at the center of their focus the attentiveness towards the elderly. They view this as a precious opportunity to make the
past, the present and the future walk hand in hand; as a show of their commitment to ensure that no one is left at the margins of social life; as a call to a joy, a sensitivity, a hope that may belong to a people, an entire people. The art of joy and hope, the art of building peace are learnt together, rejecting the culture of waste and setting the foundations for a culture of inclusion. Because everyone is enriched by the encounter with the other.
Thus, for several days, Havana was the scene of meetings, performances, celebrations, and workshops involving drawing, photography, singing, dancing and theater. It was an opportunity for many to express their talents, putting them at the disposal of, and using them to benefit others, in particular the poorest among us.
Everything culminated with a great closing event in Plaza de Belen, in the heart of “old” Havana. The younger generations, gathered together against backdrop of the colonial city, sealed the past to the future and showed the way to intergenerational solidarity and to civil and cultural activism. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bujumbura, Burundi - Sant’Egidio and the spirit of Assisi in the heart of Africa

An interreligious prayer with high symbolic value took place a few days ago in the heart of Africa, in Burundi, a heart still marked by the violent ethnic clashes of the past years and whose internal peace is at risk due to the difficult upcoming elections. We cannot forget that the ethnic composition of this small central African country is very similar to that of its neighbor, Rwanda, whose 1994 genocide anniversary was commemorated just a few days ago. 

This explains the invitation that the Community of Sant’Egidio of Burundi and the archdiocese of Bujumbura, the capital, have addressed to representatives of different religions and faiths, to all men and women of goodwill, to spend a day together inspired by the Spirit of Assisi, to pray for peace.
And truly the spirit of the city of Saint Francis, the spirit of the interreligious dialogue and the search for peace filled the large expanse which was crowded with hundreds of Burundians including many political leaders and representatives from civil society.
Among the day’s most touching moments were the testimony of Judith, a 73 years old
woman who witnessed too many times brothers killing brothers in this small country on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, and that of Bruce, an 11 year old boy from the School of Peace of Sant’Egidio who invited everyone to live and grow in the school of peace. 
A very special guest was Mons. Matteo Zuppi, auxiliary bishop of Rome. He was one of the mediators during the peace negotiations for Burundi which took place during the past years in Rome and Arusha (Tanzania). He urged the leaders and the people of Burundi to continue to “show the courage of peace. Burundi must continue to be an example for all that peace is possible, and that only the instrument of dialogue can make it grow”.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

San Salvador - A video on the Mgr. Paglia announce of the chosen date for the beatification of martyr bishop Romero

The community of Sant’Egidio of San Salvador recommends a nice youtube video (https://youtu.be/JQI4PgCtGDY), that attests to the joy of the Salvadoran faithful at the
announcement by Mons. Vincenzo Paglia, postulator in the case for the beatification of Mons. Romero, of the date chosen for the ceremony, the following May 23rd. 
The video, which lasts about ten minutes, also focuses on the memorial of the archbishop martyr, the tomb, destination of pilgrimages and object of veneration by an entire people, which was created by an Italian artist, in part with the support of the Community of Sant’Egidio. The sculptor placed the figure of Monse├▒or lying down surrounded by four angels, representing the four Gospels, to indicate the centrality of the Word of God in the life of the prelate. Etched on Romero’s chest is what appears to be a cross whose arms embrace a red stone which reminds us of the martyrdom that occurred on March 24th, 1980.