Friday, March 07, 2008

Juventutem news: International Meeting in Bern, Switzerland

Juvenutem now has a new international website: which replaces their former blogsite.

They recently had their 1st International Juvenutuem meeting in Bern, Switzlerland. Excerpts from the report follows as well as pictures.

Report on First International Juventutem meeting in Bern, Switzerland (9-10 February 2008)

For the first time in its rather brief history, the International Juventutem Federation was able to gather delegates from various groups in the world. This took place in Bern, Switzerland, where the Federation had been founded 21 months earlier (on May 24, 2006).

To the surprise of the organizers, we found ourselves nearly 30 people gathered together on this week-end, originating from ten different countries: Italy, England, Ireland, The Netherlands, Hungary, France, Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and even Hong Kong. Considering that one Spanish delegate represented our group from Argentina (a country where he had spent several years), it can be said that this first international meeting did not give an exclusively European outlook on Juventutem, but really represented our groups from various continents. Of course we missed our other friends from Australia, from Kenya and from Chile, Brazil, Columbia and Scotland. Several groups had sent messages assuring us that they were united with us through prayer.

First Mass

And pray we did, during these but 24 hours or so in Bern! We started on Saturday 9 February with Holy Mass at 3pm. The Sisters Oblates of St Francis de Sales had welcomed us in their private chapel, filled to utter capacity with our youths...

The gospel of the Mass on this Saturday after Ash Wednesday referred to the apostles spurring efforts on their little ship tossed by the tempest at night, while Our Lord was walking towards them over the water, finally bringing them all safely to the shore where all the sick were brought to Him and healed. Fr de Malleray preached in French and English (the two languages understood by one half or the other of our group), insisting on the fact we were all gathered from various countries in the name of the Lord to pray together and get to know each other so as to be better supported in our faith. Father pointed out that naturally we did not need travel such a distance to pray, since thanks be to God we could find the Real Presence in a church near our home. He added that the reason why we had come however was our specific attachment to the Roman traditions of the Church, as a means we had found most helpful for our sanctification. As young people, we were glad to be part of an international network bringing together Catholic youths with very different backgrounds and with a common interest for the Church’s traditions. The Mass was followed with devotion and one should say, with some emotion while praying for these other youths next to each of us on their knees. Very few among us had already met some other members, but our partaking in the Sacrifice of the Lord and receiving his sacred Body, precious Blood, adorable Soul and Divinity laid the deepest foundation for our common friendship.

First encounter and formal meeting


Father de Malleray then detailed the spiritual goal of Juventutem, i.e. the sanctification of the youths through the Roman traditions of the Church. He reminded us that Juventutem was essentially to help our personal sanctification through prayer, doctrine and friendship, manifesting also in charitable initiatives. He added that our desire to bear witness to the beauty and depth of these Roman traditions as Juventutem members would be fulfilled to the extent these traditions would help us grow in holiness. We would be poor apostles if we were not humble and obedient as well as trustworthy and zealous. Fr concluded by stressing the importance of the Juventutem three spiritual commitments: 1) to pray every day for the sanctification of other Juventutem youths and of all youths, preferably reciting psalm 42 “Judica me”; 2) to visit a church once a week to pray God really present in the tabernacle; 3) once a year at least, to go to confession, to attend Holy Mass in the extraordinary form and partake in some faith activities on behalf of Juventutem.

Gregory then pointed out the current situation of Juventutem. We are a young international network. Our assets are the Roman traditions of the Church and our enthusiasm. We are not aware of any other international youth organisation promoting them. We live in different countries, which brings more variety and makes our interest for these traditions more universal and therefore more significant and eloquent, as Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos wrote in his letter of support last month. But our very assets might also turn into drawbacks if we are not careful. Being young and without much experience can lead some into not very prudent declarations or initiatives. Being international (different places and different languages) makes contacts less easy and can be a source of misunderstanding and of delay in collective actions. Lastly, wanting to promote the Roman traditions of the Church can displease some laity and clergy who may frown upon us and be much less amenable to us as they are towards other groups not led by our thirst for orthodoxy and loyalty to the Holy See. As a consequence, we must be careful in what we say or write and focus on what is our raison d’être, i.e. our sanctification through the Roman traditions of the Church, in prudence and charity as befits loyal Catholics.

Regarding our statutes, Gregory said that we needed to ensure that our foundational documents were not too detailed or complex, so as not to impede our development at this still very early stage, which everybody agreed on.


It was asked how to help communicate and know each other better. Juventutem Secretary David Oostveen would gather the updated contact details of every member in the world, so as to have a complete list to this purpose.


Solemn High Mass

In the morning was the Solemn High Mass (8:15am). Not many of us had attended one in the past. The Crypt of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity (the largest Catholic church in Bern) is a nice and suitable place, in very good condition and well decorated. A prelate with a purple sash and surplice was there. We were told that he was the Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Switzerland. He had been informed of our Juventutem meeting on this week-end and gladly decided he would attend our Mass, processing with the sacred ministers and servants and sitting in choir. We have been deeply touched by the honour brought by his presence and really felt supported by the most official among Church authorities. In his sermon in German, Fr de Malleray read the translated letter of support sent by Vatican official Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission:

“Dear young members of the International Juventutem Federation, You are young Catholics, loyal to the hierarchy of the Church and attracted by the “forma extraordinaria” of the Roman liturgy, in particular by the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. I encourage you in your aim, that is to say your sanctification through the Roman traditions of the Church.

The presence of your little groups in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and Oceania demonstrates the universal attraction of the most ancient forms of the Roman liturgy, whose particular transcendence serves to connect the most diverse cultures. From this liturgy, you will receive special help in coming better to know and love Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church, as the Holy Father wrote on 7th July 2007: “Immediately after the Second Vatican Council, it might have been imagined that the demand for the use of the 1962 Missal would have been limited to the older generation, which had grown up with it, but it has since become clear that young people were also discovering this liturgical form, feeling attracted to it and finding in it a type of contact with the Most Holy Eucharist which suited them particularly well” (Letter to the Bishops, accompanying the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum“).

As a sign of your devotion to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, your Juventutem Federation has chosen as its emblem a monstrance. I also know that you will be present at the International Eucharistic Congress in Québec in June 2008.

I therefore wish to renew my encouragement of your progress in Christian piety and friendship via the Roman traditions of the Church. May you continue to obtain ever deeper sanctification, which will make you warm witnesses of the love of Christ in communion with His Church.

Signed: Dario Card. Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei Vatican City, 17th January 2008”.


In Fribourg

We arrived in Fribourg on a sunny and cold afternoon and walked along the picturesque streets and across covered bridges. Once a place a refuge for Catholic congregations in Protestant Switzerland, Fribourg used to be called “the little Swiss Rome”. It is amazing indeed how numerous the convents and friaries of all famous orders are in such a small city...

Most memorable were the solemn vespers at the cathedral at 6pm. “St Nicolas” must be the only cathedral in the world where vespers are offered (once a month) by the canons of the cathedral in the forma extraordinaria as part of the liturgical diocesan schedule. We were told that it was in no way a novelty following the recent motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. On the contrary, vespers have been celebrated this way for decades, possibly for centuries. After a very talented choir had sang polyphonic music by Palestrina, a procession of the Blessed Sacrament took place within the cathedral. As has been the tradition since early time, male representatives from the patrician families of Fribourg (the ancient city senate) in black suit and white gloves would accompany the Blessed Sacrament, each one of them carrying a lantern adorned with the arms of his family...


We were then driven back to Bern for the night. The day after, there remained only a few of us in Switzerland. We were able to visit some more places of interest, including the old Cistercian abbey of Hauterive. We eventually departed, hoping to be able to meet again soon, and feeling deeply strengthened by what we had seen and heard (and eaten!) and shared during these two days. Each of us was also conscious of the fact that such graces were not for him or her to enjoy privately, but rather as representatives of all our Juventutem fellow members (and future members), which either distance or lack of free time or of money had prevented from attending. In truth, this must have been the best beginning of Lent in our lives! With more conviction than ever we prayed to our Good God and Saviour Jesus Christ: “Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam - I will go in to the altar of God: to God Who giveth joy to my youth”.

(Read the Full Report)

Here are a few select photos from these days:

More photos are available off the website.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: