The youth group of the brotherhood

The activity of the Youth Group of a brotherhood should not be limited to the assembly of altars of worship. It should be an occasion to encourage them to fly high, a privileged time for formation and Christian commitment.

September 24, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

A group of acolytes in front of a paso at Semana Santa ©Feliu Fotografo

In some brotherhoods activities or formation sessions are organized for the brothers, grouping them according to age, family situation or other personal circumstances: activities for parents, for the elderly, for children, for sisters (with permission of the feminists), for example; but in all of them there is usually a group to which special attention is always dedicated: the youth, to the point that they are usually constituted as a group with its own entity and denomination, the Youth Group, and even with a member of the Governing Board dedicated to this group.  

It is a good practice that bears fruit. In the South of Spain, where the brotherhoods are more deeply rooted, among the young people who enter the seminary each year, a significant percentage come from the brotherhoods; but it is important to be attentive so that the young groups do not become distorted, or even become a focus of problems and lose their meaning.

A first idea to keep in mind: young people are not a special group, they are brothers and sisters like the others; the fact that they are given special attention because of their potential and their capacity for generous commitment is no excuse to attribute to them the condition of a parallel brotherhood, with its own dynamics in which, in addition, sometimes all the defects of political parties are replicated: small intrigues of corridor, trips, criticisms to try to go eliminating potential opponents and go climbing positions in an imaginary cofrade career to get to occupy a place in the Governing Board or, in the best case, to be Elder Brother, which would fulfill their aspirations.

To go out as an acolyte in the liturgical functions or to carry a candlestick in the procession is for some a good start in that career. Not to mention participating, representing their brotherhood, in the procession of another brotherhood, carrying a staff! At election time they move around trying to direct the largest number of votes to "their candidate".

In this context, if the Governing Board does not ensure the proper functioning of the Youth Group, it could become a School of RancidsThis is the name given to those confreres who adopt all the conventional external forms and work on the accessories, but lack the foundation. This does not fit with the virtues of young people: generosity, detachment, ideals, enthusiasm. They are condemned to mediocrity.

The activity of the Youth Group should not be limited to the assembly of altars of worship, brotherly contests and other more or less fun activities. It should be an opportunity to encourage them to fly high, to be free, to take risks, to learn to love the brotherhood, a love that, like all noble loves, needs feeling, but also intelligence and will. To make them see that they can not be effectively inserted in the brotherhood, nor in society, without more equipment than their feelings and their brotherhood experiences (sometimes unfortunate). Their passage through the Youth Group is a good opportunity to attend to their formation, equip their intelligence and strengthen their will.

This involves the elaboration of a formation plan that includes the knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; the promotion of human virtues: companionship, loyalty, sincerity, fortitude, industriousness, ...; the education of affectivity; knowledge of the Social Doctrine of the Church; critical capacity. In addition to encouraging them to frequent the sacraments, especially confession and communion and to deal with the Lord and his Mother, through the titular images of the brotherhood and also directly before the Tabernacle.

To lead each member of the Youth Group to the conviction that he/she is "a thought of God, a heartbeat of God. You have infinite value for God" (St. John Paul II September 23, 2001). Encourage them to "risk their lives for great ideals. We have not been chosen by the Lord to do small things. Go always beyond. Towards great things", as Francis encouraged young people (Francis 28-04-2013).

It is worthwhile to rethink the Youth Group of the brotherhood so that, without losing its freshness and enthusiasm, it can also be an occasion for inner growth, which is ultimately what it is all about.

The authorIgnacio Valduérteles

D. in Business Administration. Director of the Instituto de Investigación Aplicada a la Pyme. Eldest Brother (2017-2020) of the Brotherhood of the Soledad de San Lorenzo, in Seville. He has published several books, monographs and articles on brotherhoods.

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