More Than Rules: Youth Seek Christ

Interview With Father Fabio Di Martino of the Tabor Community

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By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, FEB. 16, 2010 ( Young people need to discover that Christianity is not a set of rules to be followed or broken.

Facilitating this discovery is one of the objectives of the Tabor Community, led by Father Fabio Di Martino.

The community is three years old today — a community of mainly youth and young adults who have decided to undertake a journey that will help them live a more mature faith in love and more profound knowledge of Jesus.
To get to know more about this group, ZENIT interviewed Father Di Martino, a priest from Castellammare di Stabia, in Naples.
ZENIT: How and why was the Tabor Community born?
Father Di Martino: The Tabor Community was born in Castellammare di Stabia on Feb. 16, 2007, from the desire of some young people to meet and pray together and undertake a journey of faith, which would help them to be formed in the human and spiritual life. The main objective of this journey is, essentially, to redirect young people to Christ and to make them understand that to follow the Lord is not a sad obligation or a moral duty, that for us Christians the faith must be lived in joy — despite the fact that all of us are called to carry the cross like Christ — and that ours is a living God, who conquered death for us and who loves us with a mad and immeasurable love.
ZENIT: This year you are celebrating the third anniversary of the community. What are the greatest problems you have encountered and what are some of the achievements you are particularly proud of?
Father Di Martino: In addition to the impediments of a practical nature linked to a lack of stable premises, the greatest difficulty has been, above all, to make a certain target of young people — age 18 to 35 — who so often live in the culture of the ephemeral, of «everything immediately» and of superficiality, understand that faith is lived in everyday life and that it doesn’t consist of a series of rules to be followed or to be transgressed.
Despite the difficulties, I can state, after three years of journeying, that the results achieved are numerous: Our community has been approached by so many young and not so young people with a range of experiential baggage, who have rediscovered the faith through our journey and have approached the sacraments; the importance of our Web site, which has allowed us to evangelize beyond our geographical and territorial limits, reaching so many other wayfarers spread over numerous and far off areas of Italy, from Latium to Sardinia, from Piedmont to Calabria.

After all, Pope Benedict XVI also, in his message for the 44th World Communications Day, titled, The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word, wrote that: «[P]riests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different ‘voices’ provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources — images, videos, animated features, blogs, Web sites — which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.»
However, the greatest result of which we are most proud is, without a doubt, the residential experience, which we began to live in November 2009, which was repeated in January 2010 and which will continue to be repeated in the course of the year. A week of fraternal coexistence, which enabled a group of wayfarers to live together for seven days, without abandoning their own work and/or study commitments, without neglecting their own daily activities, but continuing with their usual life, but in close contact with other brothers under the same roof.
The reason that drove us to undertake this unique and wonderful experience, to say the least, was the desire, if the Lord grants it, to one day have a house that is totally ours, where we can live together, as the first Christian communities did, sharing everything, from prayer to work commitments, from free time to rest. The ordinary is lived in an extraordinary way, because it is lived in a style of sharing with other persons.
What makes this experience special and our future project still more exceptional is the fact that we are not a community of consecrated persons; in fact, our journey, though guided by me, a priest, is a journey of the laity — young and not so young who, however, have in their heart the desire to be able to live in friendship and fraternity and to put concretely into practice, in everyday living, the teachings of Jesus. The residential experience, in fact, is limited to only one week for now, but we very much hope that it will be able to be prolonged in time, to the point of becoming stable and lasting.
ZENIT: Do you think you will succeed in spreading the charism and activity of your community? In what way?
Father Di Martino: The Tabor Community was born as a lay community not linked specifically in some way to a parish; rather it is an aggregation of persons linked only indirectly to the parish where I exercise my priestly ministry — in fact, the headquarters of our meetings at present are only my parish. This means that heterogeneous human realities in age, social conditions and above all different experiences of faith approach our community.
We realize that we are a young community with yet a long way to go. We don’t know what projects the Lord has in store for us, but we hope that with the help of God we will soon be able to realize our dream of making our charism and our spirituality better known. In what way? Promoting catechesis, moments of sharing, evangelization in places such as parishes, oratories and youth meeting points. We are also working on a dossier, which we will make available to anyone who wants explanations on our journey and who will help us to realize our project.
ZENIT: We are living in a world in which secularization is widespread and invasive, where policies of abortion and divorce are lacerating the social fabric at an impressive speed. Every day in Italy there are 330 more abortions and 200 separations. In what way will the Wayfarers of Charity succeed in helping these persons who lose the faith and bring them back to the straight path, offering them hope and beauty?
Father Di Martino: Secularization today strikes the family in a particular way, the basic cell of our society. Our community is frequented not only by young people, but also by adults and numerous families, who nourish and render fruitful generational comparison and dialogue.
Our journey is geared to giving new hope and vigor precisely to the family, the place where there should in fact be a daily experience of charity, tenderness, solidarity, the place in which one’s faith should be lived and from which should come the Christian teaching for our children, men and women of our future.
The Tabor Community nourishes hope, inviting persons to discover a new and alternative way, which exalts the sacred value of life against the ephemeral proposals that are offered by the world, and proposes the rediscovery of the beauty of our way of loving, of our affections and bonds, which although terrestrial, bear the sign of eternity because they are the precious gift of God that cannot be given up.

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Tabor Community (in Italian):

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