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Forming upright men and women

An Easter message from Fr Paterne Mombé SJ, director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN).

“He has been raised from the dead.” (Mt 28:7)

I spent the last week of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week animating two training-the-trainer workshops of AHAPPY (AJAN HIV&AIDS Prevention Programme for Youth). The workshops were for teachers of Jesuit schools in Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the last two of seven countries selected for the AHAPPY pilot phase.

The participants had the opportunity to reflect together and to swap ideas about the nature and extent of the multi-dimensional problems facing young people today, problems that lie at the root not only of their vulnerability to HIV but also, for many, of their failure in life. It was also a time to discern what new dimensions they should adopt in their work among youth to help them to develop their faculties – physical, intellectual and moral.

I was particularly touched by the teachers’ concern, despite the daunting challenges, to constantly seek to give the best of themselves to ‘raise’ young people in the way of integral development. Following the example of the Holy Trinity that saw humankind heading for perdition and decided to realise our redemption (a picture painted by St Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises, no.107), the teachers showed determination to play their role of educators fully, to make their young charges “upright men and women” who live life to the full. This means young people who are capable of critical reflection and who have the courage to be different in a positive way, because they are rooted in sure values.

To live life to the full, young people in Africa, especially young women, need to leave behind dark areas of unhappiness and vulnerability to HIV that still affect so many. They need to leave behind the tomb of the old self to undertake the journey to a new life… surely this one of the ways of living Easter today.

Thank you to all those who accompany us, through their friendship, collaboration, attention and generosity, in the many humble services that we at AJAN offer to promote life. May we, through the risen Christ, all play a part in his victory over evil and death and rise with him to a new life marked by love for God and others. And may he shower his Easter blessings and graces abundantly on each one of us.

A happy Easter to all!

To read this reflection in French, please go here.

If you wish to read the rest of this Lenten reflection series, please go here.

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