REVISTING MIJARC’S IDENTITY
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As your Chaplain, I am indebted to constantly remind you about the Movement’s identify. The article is a reflection a number of issues that concern us all who are in one way or the other connected with MIJARC either as members or chaplain/collaborators. It deals with the current status of the movement, relationship with the Church and Society, and address some of the challenges young people face today and the need to strengthen chaplaincy and adult collaborator’s involvement.
THE SITUATION OF THE MOVEMENT
MIJARC is one of the very few rural youth movements that represent young people who are rooted in the rural areas of the countries on the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
It is interesting to observe that the extension of the movement is almost always actually done at least within a country by MIJARC members themselves, unlike other organizations where it is done according to the charism or the personality of one of the other founders who in many cases is not an indigenous or local person from that area.
MIJARC members feel the movement is their own and that no one else can claim its ownership. This is why they feel responsible for its growth using such a situation as justification.
This situation is necessitated by the fact that the movement starts from the reality of rural life experienced by youths themselves, who are in most cases disadvantaged by the geography and they feel they can do something to better their lives and make it more meaningful and comfortable enough.
It should be appreciated that MIJARC is a rural youth movement that enables young people to better express themselves, their aspirations and ambitions and overcome any deceptions in which they find themselves, because all the leaders are young people taken from amongst themselves.
This brings into question the presence and participation of adults in the movement who in this case cannot be considered as members but as collaborators with very specific roles to play such as mentoring, animation and formation of young people into better adults. Since MIJARC is a movement in which young people make their own programs, they feel free to make their choices and taken actions that are inspired by faith and Gospel values. Their starting point is normally the most spokesperson of their mentality (conscience) that is driven by the movement which expresses with the most appropriateness their concrete life. It is therefore imperative that if adults want to inspire confidence and remain closer by way of collaboration, adults must know how to accept and appreciate what the young people say and what they want to do even when and if some elements of their analysis appear at least from an adult point of view mistaken.
MIJARC AND THE CHURCH
The identity of MIJARC is Catholic in nature and this is due to the fact that members are supposed to be Catholic and practicing Christians. It is for this simple reason that amongst rural youth organizations and associations, it holds a unique status with a Christian identity rooted in Christian faith.
In Latin America, Asia and Africa at least, it operates within the Church structures in terms of witness, through Christian communities, parishes and dioceses. It does not only aim at gathering young people for a ministry service or any kind in the internal life of the Christian community but it helps the Church to bear in mind that the Church exists to evangelize and bring young people closer to God.
In contrast to other movements bearing the Catholic name, MIJARC makes patent the autonomy and the apostolic initiative of an organized laity in communion with the universal Church. MIJARC brings the prophetical witness of an apostolic lay Christian Community by assuming its responsibility that animates the youth “to be the light to the world” ((Matthew 5:12-15). The movement is constantly serving the Church by reminding her of the fundamental right of the movements to evangelize and by achieving the task outside of the official boundaries of the Church.
MIJARC AND SOCIETY
Unlike Internal associations of the Church and lay groups working in the Parishes, Mijarc is acknowledged everywhere by Governments and the International Community as a Non-political Christian youth movement. They then have a right to give their point of view and it happens that government asks for their opinion on agricultural policies by international organizations like at UNESCO and ILO platforms. By using these for a, MIJARC can therefore speak expressively, ask questions, act on the open, make declarations and make known their stand point of view. In this way, they can therefore speak their minds at the National and International sphere.
Having articulated the position of MIJARC in Society we can clearly see that the movement has a particular Charisma. This is indeed a gift to be critical and act differently because of the underlying faith and convictions.
In the final analysis MIJARC prepares leaders, men and women for the entire world. This mission is one of the greatest services to the world so that it is transformed into a better world to live…”New earth and New heaven” (Revelations 21:5). At the moment as the Movement prepares itself to have a General Assembly in India in the month of October 2015, the members in different parts of the world are busy preparing themselves as the reflect on their position in the World in the light of Pope Francis’s Encyclical “Laudato Si” and the United Nation’s agenda the “ Sustainable Development Goals”.
MIJARC leadership should be in a position to inspire hope in the young people who are quite often disadvantaged by their status of youthfulness but look forward to the better tomorrow or future. After all scripture teaches us that The good news of the Kingdom of God was good news about the future state of affairs on earth, when the poor would no longer be poor, the hungry would be satisfied and he oppressed would no longer be miserable. To pronounce the words “Thy Kingdom come” is the same saying “Thy will be done on earth as it is heaven”. (Matthew 6:110)
THE CHALLENGES FACED BY YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE MOVEMENT
The challenges can be approached from various perspectives. The basic questions could be: With such energetic and vibrant young men and women, why does the movement quite often, if not most of the times, fail to accomplish what they set as goals?
There are various responses to such a question. First, there is lack of motivation among rural youth people or lack of faith or character of maturity. These are young people caught up in disadvantaged situations. That is, not self-assured, lost in their personal problems, overwhelmed by the weight of their situations of the tasks they wish they could accomplish. Second, there is also an element of isolation, the fact that people refuse to listen to them pushes them either to discouragement or return to individualism. Third, the cause of increasing poverty due to the government’s failure to set right priorities that target rural areas largely affects the youth. Fourth, because of perceived and/or actual repression in the Church as well as society, these situations are real and play a major role in reducing young people’s potential in rural areas who are constantly being marginalized.
Moreover, the other challenge is coming from the Institutional Model of the Church. In many aspects, young people are given very limited space to participate in its welfare and because of this they remain objects of care without really being allowed to behave as active participants in Church activities. Although they are referred as free to offer their own opinions, they are rarely given the opportunities to fully pursue their own solutions.
In order to form an integrated young people, there is need to focus more on formation and training of Chaplains and adult collaborators who can readily be available to guide the youth. This is why formation and training of adult collaborators can be envisioned to set the basis for intervening in of young people’s predicament.
I would like to call on all MIJARC members Chaplains and adult collaborators to work together to grow this movement so that young people in rural areas may feel the love of God despite the many challenges they constantly continue to face in the day to day living.
Let us pray for the growth of the movement and invoke God’s abundant blessings for the movement to be an example of being “the salt and light to the world”. (Mattthew5: 13)
Rev. Fr. Dr. Obino C Mulenga
Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016