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!