“Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39)
In this AJANews Newsletter, August issue, African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) celebrates the Young People as they commit their lives to Christ. This type of experience puts young people in touch with God’s dream for humanity and awakens in them the spirit and the love of God and one another, that of “creating a hope-filled future” Inspired by the third Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) of the Society of Jesus for 2019-2029, where we commit ourselves to accompany young people in creating a hope-filled future.
“Mary arose and went with haste”(Lk 1:39) was the scripture quote chosen by Pope Francis as the motto of the World Youth Day 2023 that was celebrated in Lisbon, Portugal from the 1st to 6th August 2023. This biblical phrase opens the account of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, a biblical episode following the Annunciation, the angel’s announcement to Mary that she was chosen by God to be the Mother of the Son of God.
Asked why he chose Mary as the theme for World Youth Day, Pope Francis said: “Because as soon as Mary knew she was going to be the mother of God, she didn’t stay there taking a selfie or showing off. The first thing she did was to set out on a journey, in haste, to serve, to help. You too have to learn from her to set out on a journey to help others.”
Pope Francis’ message emphasizes his invitation to young people to quickly take the path of bearing joyful witness to the Gospel where he shares his desire to plant “a seed for the world’s future.” St. Ignatius’s vision of faith can help us to become closer to our brothers and sisters who are marginalized by social injustices, those stigmatized and discriminated because they are infected and affected by HIV. Like the way Mary got up in haste and did not remain paralyzed, for within her was Jesus, she arises and sets out, for she is certain that God’s plan is the best plan for her life. Mary becomes a temple of God, an image of the pilgrim Church, a Church that goes forth for service, a Church that brings the good news to all!
Dear Young People, you will be able to experience the joy of encountering God through service to our brothers and sisters that are in need of us. We urge the young people to Arise and make haste when called upon. Mary is our model; she shows us how to welcome this immense gift into our lives, to share it with others, and thus to bring Christ, his compassionate love and his generous service to our deeply wounded humanity, to those who are facing myriads of problems and challenges in health, those facing starvation, the young people and orphans who have been secluded because of having been infected and affected with HIV and other tropical neglected diseases, those living in fear of violence, the young girls who are out of school and the single teenage mothers through Pope Francis words, during the WYD 2023, he said, “There is room for everyone in the church, for everyone, including for those who make mistakes, who fall or struggle.” We pray, “May the Holy Spirit urge you on as you run this race. The Church needs your momentum, your intuitions, your faith. We need them!”
Mary was a young woman, like many of you. She was one of us. An Italian Bishop, Don Tonino Bello, addressed this prayer to her: “Holy Mary…, we know very well that you were destined to sail the ocean deep. If we beg you to hug the coast, it is not because we want to hold you back, but because, seeing your closeness to the shores of our discouragement, we come to see that we too are called to venture out, as you did, upon the high seas of freedom” (Maria, donna dei nostri giorni, Cinisello Balsamo, 2012, 12-13).
Like Mary went with haste to share the good news and serve, AJAN continues going out preparing the youth and caregivers for the future, equipping them from within for a more sustainable behavior change. Inside this issue get to read about AJAN HIV and AIDS Programme for the Youth (AHAPPY) Training of Trainers (ToT) for the Jesuit Novices of Noviciat Notre-Dame de la Compagnie de Jésus à Kinkeso in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, AHAPPY ToT for pupils and teachers from various schools in Zambia and AHAPPY ToT for the teachers and non-teaching staffs of Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu, Uganda.
By, Dennis Owuoche,
AJAN Communications Officer