One week after the dreadful terrorist attacks in Paris, France, not very far from there something else took place. This time is not something fearful but quite the opposite: it is cheerful and most of all hopeful.
The Shalom Catholic Community hosted the Congrès de Jeunes Shalom (CJS), that is, the Shalom Youth Congress. The Community, established in 1982, have been promoting the CJS for many years throughout Brazil gathering thousands of young Brazilians and even other nationalities in its previous editions. This is the first time the event was held in Europe and the country chosen was… yes, France! The dates have been in the Community’s calendar since 2014.
The organizers along with the whole Community have been praying and preparing the event as they believe God had a special desire for it to occur. Moyses Azevedo, Shalom Community’s founder and speaker at the event, said that CJS-France would be a decisive turning-point for the growth of the Community’s evangelizing mission in Europe and added that there is a mysterious spiritual fruitfulness that will spring forth from it, especially through the young people.
As the whole world watched with horror the tragedies unfolded in Paris, the organisers of CJS-France concerned for the safety of its participants and the uncertainty of the upcoming situation in France gathered all information and resources to discern if the event was to be cancelled. For their amazement and awe the first confirmation on the importance of the event came from the Bishop of Evry-Corbeil-Essonne, Michel Dubost:
“I invite you not to discourage in your effort to come to Shalom Youth Congress in the next weekend in Evry’s Cathedral. It will be a strong sign of peace. Peace is not built in isolation and terror (…) Come, therefore, without fear, in great number!”
Other confirmations came later through the kind words of Cardinal Rylko Stanislaw, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in his letter to Moyses Azevedo and all participants of CJS-France:
“Dear young people, be in the front line in the arduous task of building peace in the world’s present time. As Pope Francis so well reminds us, we have ‘so many young people tired of this world being so divided, with clashes between supporters of different factions and so many wars, in some of which religion is being used as justification for violence’. Before the powers of darkness, it is stronger ‘the presence of God who opposed all these forces with His power, which is totally different and divine: with the power of Mercy. It is Mercy that puts an end to evil. In it is expressed God’s special nature – His holiness, the power of truth and love’ (Pope Benedict XVI homily in the occasion of the Divine Mercy Feast in 2007)”.
Thus, the Community Shalom, in prayer and dialogue, certain of God’s will for CJS-France, have decided not to cancel the event. With full support of the Archdiocese of Evry-Corbeil-Essonne and many Catholic families who opened their houses to host pilgrims from all over the world, Shalom Youth Congress have launched a new encouraging motto for CJS-France: “Youth for Peace!”
For more information on CJS-France click HERE.