This summer I have the joy of giving testimony about being with youth at camp as chaplain. The community at Fain-les-Moutiers kindly welcomed me. I stayed with the community, while Sr. Frédérique and Sr. Valérie were in charge of the camp. We are all three in the same community.
I had the impression I was reliving my youth in being with the young people who were so diverse in age and sometimes from difficult family situations. I discovered the periphery a bit more through my contact with Clément with autism, so well accepted into the group, with whom I spent some free time. Clément told me, “What you said to me warms my heart.” Discovering the periphery is to discover someone who is different, with their good heartedness and their weaknesses. Thank you, Clément, for what I discovered through you. I also found the generosity of youth, their joy, their spontaneity and their family concerns revealed in their behavior. I learned to reach them where they were, helping them to grow.
I benefited from their acts of kindness, their taking me by the arm: “I am doing this with my grandmother,” pulling out a chair for me. This showed me how much their hearts needed to show their love, who, for the most part, came from broken families and lived at the edge of a stable family.
I was witness to the dedication of all the staff who forgot their own concerns in order to be closer to the youth. They weren’t content to stay with those who were more gifted or receptive but were attentive to all those who needed to be valued, supported, who were dominated by those stronger than them. They were close, then, to those who could be forgotten, at risk of being at the periphery and who needed to be reached.
I took part in celebrations prepared and directed by the youth. They felt really involved. Too often we lack the audacity to welcome them in the parish and let them stay at the periphery of Church life.
I appreciated the days of relaxation, the trips to the “periphery” of camp, to discover other horizons, other persons who made fantastic projects in their spare time. Outside of camp we show ourselves differently.
The summer camp was a magnificent experience for me and for everyone. I went out of myself to expand my view, to live the joy of being in service to others with my Sisters, in the land of St. Catherine, in the Spirit of St. Vincent, who knew how to go out to meet others, the least ones.
Daughter of Charity