“Go on the paths of life without fear, in joy and in hope!” said Pope Francis to young Italians of Loreto, with whom he spent the day on Sunday, September 17, 2017.
The Holy Father welcomed in the Vatican the participants in the 20th edition of “Giovaninsieme” [Young People Together], a group of some 550 boys and girls accompanied by the Minor Brothers of the Marches, reported L’Osservatore Romano on September 19, 2017. The Pontiff spent almost the whole day with the youngsters. He arrived in Paul VI Hall at 9:30 am on foot, directly from Saint Martha’s Residence, and talked with the young people until the Sunday Angelus.
Then Francis joined them again around 3:00 pm and stayed with them until 4:30 pm. L’Osservatore Romano described it as “an informal, family meeting.” “It all unfolded in simplicity and spontaneity.”
The “Giovaninsieme” celebration is organized every year at the beginning of pastoral activity at Loreto, in central Italy, where the Brothers, in collaboration with the Franciscan Sisters of Alcantara, organize in the House of Spirituality “Land of Little Flowers” numerous initiatives for adolescents, young people, families, the divorced and grandparents. This year the Pope invited them, in view of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops dedicated to young people.
“Giovaninsieme” began on September 16 at Loreto with a catechesis on the Gospel of the Resurrection, a pilgrimage to the Hoy House of the Virgin Mary and a Mass celebrated with the Archbishop Monsignor Fabio Dal Cin. On Sunday, around 4:30 am, the young people left for Rome and arrived in the Vatican at 8:30 am. They had breakfast in a room of Paul VI Hall, and Pope Francis arrived at 9:30 am.
Received by the Father Provincial of the Minor Brothers of the Marches, Ferdinando Campana, the Pontiff asked: “But have they had breakfast?” Then he listened to their songs and watched the young people and the Brothers execute dance routines.
Through a video, the young people told the Pope about their recent march from Loreto to Assisi and gave him four presents linked to those days of intense communal life: a particular pilgrim’s staff, from which hangs a cord with knots. Father Alessandro, who took part in the meeting, explained that each knot “Represents a face and a prayer entrusted to the marchers.” Two young people then brought a vessel containing soil of the villages affected by the earthquake and a statute of the Virgin of Loreto, which went on pilgrimage in the affected regions. The last present was a crucifix made by Roberta Giulini on the basis of the famous crucifix of the Portiuncula in Assisi.
After singing an invocation to the Holy Spirit, there was a moment to hear the Word of God with the Reading of Psalm 121, followed by the passage in Luke’s Gospel on the disciples of Emmaus. It was on this passage that the Pope focused his impromptu catechesis for the young people, asking them questions every now and then, such as “Do you want to become an adult or remain a child?”
In the afternoon, during the presentation of the pastoral plan, the Holy Father joked with the Brothers and with Sister Armanda, in an atmosphere of joy that involved everyone, indicated the same source. During the last part of the meeting, the young people asked the Pope questions on life, faith, vocation, love and family.