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Novitiate of the Euro-Mediterranean Province of the Society of Jesus
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EYM, what a surprise!

04 Dec 2017

EYM, for those who do not know what it means, stands for Eucharistic Youth Movement. It is a Jesuit formation programme for youngsters, from primary school to high school. Just a month ago, I have joined the EYM, in my adulthood, as a novice.

Before starting the Novitiate, I knew almost nothing about the EYM, I had only heard some people describe it. After a month of EYM and two months of Novitiate, I can confirm that the weekly two-hour meeting I spend at the EYM is the highlight of the week.

To introduce my experience, I would like to narrate a sweet story. Last summer, I met a friend, who has been involved in the EYM for a number of years. All she did was speak to me about the EYM. She was always saying how she enjoys giving her time for youngsters, how wonderful the EYM is, how it gives her life etc. etc. etc. She wished that throughout my journey within the Society of Jesus, I will have the opportunity to be a co-ordinator within the EYM. Having no direct experience of what it means to be part of the EYM, I took her lightly (obviously!). More so, I used to enjoy pulling her leg, to make her realise that she was exaggerating.

When Father Master informed me that my apostolic service would be as a co-ordinator at the EYM, I smiled as the memories of last summer came to mind. I told myself: “I was looking for it, I deserved to be punished in this way! This is just the right punishment for teasing my friend!” At least God has his creative ways of guiding my life and “punish” me.

She was right, and I was mistaken. What a lovely group of youngsters I was sent to! The group caters for the 14-15 age bracket. They are beautiful! As for the co-ordination of the group, I found myself with three young university students from Genoa together with another young Jesuit in formation. From the start, I was impressed by their attention and dedication during the preparation meeting as well as by the way they lead the meeting with the kids, every Friday. When they were young themselves, they received so much from the EYM. Now that they have grown up, they are eager to return their beautiful experience. It is evident, even if they do not say it.

Further to the weekly meetings, there is also a two-day camp biannually, a period of serving the poorest within the territory, a summer camp and the annual national meeting, where all the youngsters over twelve years of age from all over the country meet in Frascati for three to four days. This year this meeting will commence on the 7th December.

All these occasions are useful for the youngsters to grow in their relationships, to get to know each other better, to make new friends, to enjoy themselves, to grow through activities. Last November, precisely on the 17th and the 18th , I got the chance to live my first two-day camp. I really enjoyed it. And from being a suspect who presents himself every Friday as one of the co-ordinators (the kind of, “Who on earth is he?”), for them I am now Nicola, pronounced with the accent of my home province, Puglia.

Who would have told me? Just a month ago, I did not even know anything about Genoa, let alone the EYM. My friend was right: The EYM brings me life, enjoyment, fulfilment and growth. Maybe I am exaggerating now, just like my friend did last summer. But in the end it  was all true. EYM, what a surprise!

Once upon a time there was a Neapolitan in Milan…

24 Apr 2021

It might sound like the beginning of a joke, but it is the account of my latest experiment in the novitiate. I was sent for Lent to Milan, a city that has always exercised mixed feelings. A beautiful, rich, exciting experience, in which, living in the community of Villapizzone, I verify the desires that have matured so far. The community is welcoming. I find men who make their lives as religious truly captivating, sharing their daily lives with families and young people on the road, under the banner of the Word of God.

But the most beautiful surprise was when I was told that I would be spending the Easter week in Selva di Val Gardena. It is one of the places of my heart, where I met the Jesuits for the first time and attended one of the summer courses for young people.

The mountains are still snowy, but the sun blesses the peaks with light every day. Surrounded by that atmosphere, I feel in harmony with creation. Then, what I never expected happens.

The parish of Selva is busy throughout the triduum. Young people, teens, children, families. One of the voices we hear most often these days is the gradual turning away from the faith. This is not what I experience. Easter lived in this atmosphere becomes a resurrection experience. Each celebration is accompanied by the songs of the various parish choirs. From their voices, from all over the valley, a voice rises up that increases in me confidence and hope.

A truly unexpected gift.

2021-04-24 Pasquale Landolfi – second year novice

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