Feast of St. Dominic and II National Congress of the Dominican Youth Movement In East Timor

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By Fr. Rubén Martínez Ortega, OPCongresoNacionalMJDTimor

Young people from different groups of the Dominican youth movement in East Timor met in Holarua (Same) to celebrate its II National Congress of the Dominican Youth Movement since August 5. At least 120 youth people from almost all the places where the Order is present in Timor form 5 groups. All used different transportation: trucks, motorcycles etc, to meet us at the House of the Dominican sisters of Santa Catalina in Holarua.

The sisters and the youth group of Holarua welcomed us in such a way that they made us feel at home. For most of these young people the trip can last up to 5 hours along the mountain roads, the road is very sunny, rainy, or hot, depending on the place where each one comes from, However, this did not take away the joy young people had in meeting their brothers. Some of them were already known for encounters in previous years.

The meeting began on Sunday the 5th after dinner. We started the activities with the division of young people into 10 groups to integrate them with other young people and thus they could get to know each other better. The emotion could already be seen on their faces. With their way of expressing themselves and telling anecdotes about their lives, we contagious with that joy that characterizes young people. After a long day, although they did not seem tired, it was necessary to rest to start a new day.

On Monday, the 6th, in the morning hours, the young people had a presentation on the Characteristics of the Preaching of Jesus, followed by a reflection in groups about what they liked most about Jesus. Almost all of them focused on mercy and forgiveness. It was interesting to hear each opinion about Jesus and their deepening feelings. The activity ended with feedback from the groups. The most beautiful part of this activity was how everyone expressed their feelings for the love of Jesus.

In the afternoon, the groups went to different towns to visit the Christian communities. Some of them had to walk for 2 hours to reach their preaching destinations. Although that day was hot, no one complained about the weather. One of the groups went to the regional hospital and shared with the sick a prayer and tears as they both felt blessed by such an encounter. These experiences, preaching the Word of God to other young people, made everyone return with more joy than they had in the morning hours. It was an afternoon that the young people will in their hearts forever.

Some of the young people who had not been able to come on Sunday joined the group in the afternoon hours. That same day, during the night, we saw a video about the life of Saint Dominic and the groups came together again to share what they liked most about the life of Dominic of Guzman. Those who have more time in youth groups and know him better encouraged the new ones to know and love Saint Dominic and to follow in the Dominican youth movement. Almost all of them focused on the pillars of Dominican life: prayer, study, common life, and preaching.

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The "National Meeting of the Dominican Youth Movement"  was on Tuesday, August 7. This day all the groups presented their experiences and activities carried out in their localities since the first national meeting held a year ago. The meeting of the morning ended with the presentation of some small statutes that had been prepared to discuss in the groups and give their contributions to be improved.

In the afternoon, the groups also had time to answer several questions about the reality of young people in Timor, their longings, their problems. This time allowed us to see what Dominican youth can bring to young Timorese, to society and to the church. All this in context with the synod on young people that will be in October. With this, we concluded the national meeting. But there I did not finish everything, the main thing was missing, the Feast of Saint Dominic!

The brothers and sisters who had not come to participate in the meeting of the young people joined this day at dinner. We can say that now, the family is complete! The party began with the first vespers. We made a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and the image of Saint Dominic from the house of the Dominican Sisters of Santa Catalina to a nearby chapel. It was a simple procession but full of meaning. With this procession, we wanted to express how Saint Dominic followed Jesus, and how we follow Saint Dominic for being a follower of Jesus.

When we arrived at the chapel we had a prayer. Each group of young people prayed before the Blessed Sacrament about one of the characteristics of Saint Dominic asking the Lord for the strength to follow him as he did.

Once vespers were over it was time to unleash the talent of each group: The groups presented theatre plays, songs, dances. Some of them made us laugh, others shouted for joy, and others made us dance. At the end of the performances, all of us dance together holding hands, following the tradition of this land. We finish the day at 1 o'clock in the morning.

We started on Wednesday 8th with the Morning prayer. We made a memory of what we had lived during the last 3 days there. A memory that is like a contemplation of the presence of God in all the moments in which we had participated and that we could not forget.

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The Eucharist was stipulated for 9:00 am, but due to the torrential rains we started a few minutes later. It was a simple Mass, we remember Saint Dominic and qualities that characterized him: the union to Christ, the love of the word of God and poverty, the ecclesial and fraternal communion, the service from humility, formation, and preaching. The choir of the youth of the chapel adorned the great solemnity.

We ended the celebration of Saint Dominic with a fraternal agape. The parish community together with the contribution of all the parishioners prepares a great celebration.

We said goodbye with the joy and hope of seeing each other the following year. They all arrived safely at their destinations.

We thank the Dominican sisters of Santa Catalina de Siena, the young people of Holarua and the parish community of Same. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

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