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Schoenstatt
Apostolic Movement

The Archdiocesan Youth Encounter: More than an event, a transforming experience

By: Génesis Moncayo

On the first Sunday of Advent, December 3rd, about three thousand young people from Guayaquil gathered to have a unique experience: the Archdiocesan Youth Encounter. This event, organized by the Archdiocese of Guayaquil, promised a day full of faith, hope and joy. Schoenstatt was invited to be one of the main organizers along with the New Catechumenal Way Movement.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?

This was the motto chosen for the great encounter, since this year the Church in Ecuador has declared it as the year of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the country, which will be celebrated in March 2024. Ecuador was the first country in the world to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In honor of this great consecration that took place so many years ago, the young people want to be the ones who once again lead this gratitude and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our country is consecrated, we have a special right to his heart. We are God’s property. We were consecrated. Whoever is united to him, experiences that heaven. As we are united to him, consecrated to him, no one can keep us apart!

An encounter full of life

The encounter was filled with different activities: dynamics, musical groups, confessions, Adoration, booths for the various Movements that make up the Archdiocese, testimonies of young people who attended the WYD and it concluded with the Sunday Holy Mass. All this contributed to generate a joyful atmosphere with splendor and hope, reminding us that there is always light amid darkness.

We also held a round table discussion with our pastor, Monsignor Luis Gerardo Cabrera, in which questions about youth, women and the mission of the Church were addressed; it was a very jovial environment that allowed the youth to express themselves with simplicity and freedom. Monsignor assured that he will remember every word expressed during this part of the encounter.

Schoenstatt serving the Church

A team from the Schoenstatt Apostolic Youth and their Advisors were very committed to the organization of the encounter. They worked for more than three months with weekly meetings together with delegates from the Archdiocese and the New Catechumenal Way Movement, taking care of and planning every detail so that the experience would be memorable.

Members of the Family League and the Mothers’ Branch also collaborated with the encounter, being responsible for the entertainment, Adoration, the round table discussion, and the Holy Mass.

Our youth, in addition to being part of the great team of volunteers, actively participated in the encounter. The following are some testimonies of their experiences:

“Participating in the round table discussion with Bishop Luis Cabrera was an enriching experience. During the exchange we could see the commitment he has with the young Church and with continuing to promote these spaces where the archdiocesan youth can meet and express themselves. I would like to highlight the attention he gave to each contribution, and especially his responses, which were always clear, sincere, and full of emotion. I consider that the youth have an ally in him to continue cultivating their faith, and to go out in mission spreading the love and mercy of Jesus” – Roberto Urquizo (BY, volunteer and participant in the round table discussion).

“There was a big difference between being a volunteer and being a participant in the encounter. As a volunteer, I was concerned about the well-being of others, we made sure that everything went according to schedule, and we were always willing to look for solutions. The organization of this great activity requires people who are committed, and that is reflected in each of the volunteers. I loved being a volunteer and I would volunteer again to serve others!” – María José Campuzano (GY, volunteer).

“The happiness shown on the face of every person I served was the greatest gift this meeting could have given me. Helping our neighbor fills our hearts and souls in a profound way, and no other thing we do can compare to what we feel when we serve our community. Throughout all these years in Schoenstatt, the Blessed Mother has taught me how beautiful it is when you have the opportunity to serve others and you do it in an extraordinary way, always giving the best of yourself. If you ask me, I would say yes, yes, I would come back to help a thousand times more, always placing myself at the full disposal of those who need me” – María Paz Romero (Girls’ Youth, participant).

Thus, the eleventh Archdiocesan Youth Encounter came to an end, leaving in the heart of each young person the seed of faith and commitment. As a Movement we feel fulfilled and joyful to serve our Church, sharing our charism with love and generous dedication.

More than an encounter, this was a transforming experience that we hope will continue to bear fruit every single day in the lives of thousands of young people who have awakened to God’s call and decided to live their faith with authenticity and freedom, confident that nothing and no one will be able to keep us apart from the love of Christ.

Translation: Maribel Acaron

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