Thursday, 20 November 2003

Vatican City (Fides Service) – “In America Latina Missionary Childhood helps adults realise children’s amazing capacity for commitment giving rise to a truly surprising movement of prayer and material aid ”. Sister Maria Teresa Crescini MPV, of the International Office of the Pontifical Society for Missionary Childhood told Fides during a conversation about the participation of children at CAM2 25 to 30 November in Guatemala City.

What is the role of children and young people in the missionary activity of the Church in Latin America?
In Latin America, Missionary Childhood is a concrete reality, it animates parishes, movements schools. It helps adult realise children’s capacity for commitment and creates a movement of prayer and solidarity truly surprising. This is why in recent years a major concern of the Latin American Church has been to involve children in its activity of evangelisation. Children are encouraged to be missionaries to their peers in their environment, to share the riches of the faith they have received as a gift and they take this commitment seriously evangelising not only children of their own age but also adults who have lost their faith.
Missionary commitment of children in some Latin American countries is also bearing fruits of missionary vocations. Many of the seminarians and religious men and women first felt their calling as members of Missionary Childhood. Today we can say the Missionary Childhood in Latin America is of primary pastoral importance: in fact Mission Congresses always give special place and prepare a special programme for Missionary Childhood children and these young participants enrich the Congress with the enthusiasm and creativity of children..

How many Missionary Childhood children will take part in CAM2?
About 300 children and adolescents from all over America. More would have liked to come but the number was restricted due to space. In all the local Churches children participated in preparation for the Congress with their natural enthusiasm.

How have the children’s activities been organised ?
CAM 2 organising committee has assigned to each thematic centre the name of an American Saint or Blessed. The thematic centre for children has the names three children saints, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, Martyrs of Tlaxcala”, beatified by John Paul II on May 6, 1990 in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico. The children thematic centre will be at the San José de los Infantes Catholic School, which has made its premises and staff available for the whole week.
The children, of various nationalities, will 9 nine age-groups: 6 with 33 children and 3 with 34 children. Each group will have a co-ordinator. The 9 co-ordinators come from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica e Guatemala.

Tell us about the children’s programme?
A detailed CAM 2programme has been prepared for adults and children each day. Missionary Childhood participants will listen to catechesis on the Martyrs of Tlaxcala. The methods used with children aim to foster harmony of cultures, impart knowledge of the situations and offer guidance on how to serve the Church in her evangelising mission.
Each day for the children, like the general programme, will be dedicated to a particular Continent with a special theme talk, time for personal and group reflection, play and prayer. The week 25 to 30 November will be “a week of colours”, during which the values of mission will be communicated to the children like a mosaic from which there should emerge the urgency of the Church’s evangelising mission and the Church’s confidence in children.

Will the Congress give special attention to children?
Yes, Saturday 29 November will be Children’s Day. There will be a Party to mark the 160th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Missionary Society of Holy Childhood. Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and Papal Envoy to CAM2 will meet the children participating in the Congress and any other local children wishing to come to the Party. About 6,000 are expected. The Cardinal will give a talk and then consign to the children the Mission Mandate to carry the Good News of the Gospel to the whole world. This will be followed by singing and a and display to make the Party complete. (R.Z.) (Fides Service 20/11/2003 – lines 68; words 789)