|Sonia González and Ruth de Jesús share their reflections on forming teens at a meeting in Méry-sur-Marne, France. |
When Regnum Christi member Sonia González was asked in May
2008 to design an international “club model” project for ECYD,
it seemed that a few months would be enough to
turn in a proposal. But the work became so absorbing
that she produced a fruitful reflection on how the Legion
of Christ and Regnum Christi work with teens and adolescents.
Sonia, a mother of four children ages 4 to 16,
and Ruth de Jesús, a psychologist who acted as an
advisor for the project, have been sharing their insights with
Legionaries, consecrated members, and lay members working in the various
territories. This past April 5 and 6, they presented their
work to the Legionaries and consecrated women working in France,
at the apostolic school in Méry-sur-Marne.
After the presentation, Sonia and
Ruth took part in the following interview with the Spanish
editors of RegnumChristi.org. An English translation is presented below.
thank you very much for this course. Your reflections on
the ECYD pedagogy and way of dealing with teens is
new and can seem almost revolutionary. Do you think this
would have been possible without the difficult circumstances that the
Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi have just undergone?
For any movement or congregation, the founder’s death marks a
decisive stage that can lead you to question your own
identity. Obviously, everything we have come to know about Fr
Maciel has been very hard. In a way, it has
taken the ground out from under us and has made
us look at ourselves in depth and with maturity, to
ask what God wants of us. It has united the
urgent and the important. But I believe that this kind
of questioning would have been necessary in any case. In
fact, since the start of the project, we could already
intuit some important points for reconsideration.
|Sonia González is a mother of 4 children, 3 of whom are teens. |
RC.org: What is the main
novelty in the draft handbook you are proposing?
main question that we have asked is how to connect
with teens, starting with the needs they really have, not
trying to give answers when we don’t even know what
their questions are. And from there, to build, accompanying the
teen in his or her own process. That is our
objective. I believe that ECYD is a road to walk,
not just a “result” or a goal. We also try
to renew our way of seeing them: Do we look
at them the right way, in the way they need?
What do adolescents need to see in our eyes? And
finally, we wanted not just to write something theoretical, but
something deeply inspiring that would reflect the essential experience we
already have in working with teens, so that it can
be lived and applied in the specific apostolate of each
country, region, type of work, etc. For this, everyone’s contributions
are so important, including yours. It has been helpful to
receive “validations” that this does indeed respond to the adolescent’s
RC.org: Ruth, you are not a Regnum Christi member and
you work outside the Movement, in the French Saint Louis
school in Madrid, directed by the Notre Dame de Vie
association. Could you tell us how the ECYD way of
working differs from other pastoral proposals for teens?
Ruth de Jesús:
What strikes me most is the apostolic concern, the constant
desire to reach and connect with teens, to meet them
where they are at. I also see that in ECYD
there is the desire to reach the whole person, his
or her whole life, so that they find the only
One who can fill their lives: Christ.
RC.org: As psychologist, do
you think that the teens of 2011 are different from
those of the 80s or 90s?
Ruth: Some manifestations are
different, but at bottom they have the same kinds of
concerns. The one who is evolving in her way of
relating to teens is the Church, and this is very
good. I see a lot of willingness to adapt in
an ever-new way to what teens need.
Sonia: Yes, in fact,
what we have tried to do is to make this
draft of the ECYD Handbook help us to understand teens
from every epoch. This is giving us the opportunity to
explore the mission of the different stages of life… We
also want the ECYD Handbook to be a means to
accompany all dimensions of the person, to give an “integral”
and at the same time, “integrating” formation. We want it
to help the teen to integrate the different areas and
environments of his or her life. Otherwise, the teen is
internally divided, living in a different way in their ECYD
club, at school, in the family, with friends… and that
is very difficult to keep up. We believe that if
we can achieve this integrating formation, we will have helped
them form a coherent and happy personality.
RC.org: Ruth, what role
does the ECYD Handbook draft give to parents?
does not have the mission of forming parents. But we
want to renew the way of seeing the parent-teen-ECYD relationships,
looking together at the teen we are trying to reach.
The teen is at the center, and the parents and
ECYD formators put him or her as the priority. Sometimes
it is a difficult topic because so many families are
unstable or divided, going through circumstances that are very painful
for all of them, also for the children. It is
a challenge. We do not yet have all the answers
on this point. We need to keep reflecting and working.
I hope you can also send your insights on this
RC.org: What is the role of the renewal of ECYD
in relation to rediscovering the charism of the Legion of
Christ and Regnum Christi?
Sonia: For me, talking about ECYD
is similar to talking about Regnum Christi; after all, ECYD
is the main way that Regnum Christi members reach out
to and serve youth. So, these reflections can also help
to reflect on the charism: about how to draw closer
to each and every person. I find it very helpful
to think that God is interested in man, thirsty for
his love. Love from God to attain love for God.
We all want to respond to the question of our
life: what does God have to do with my life,
with man? Answering this existential question also means wanting to
accompany ECYD… and RC as well.
Ruth: My impression of your
congregation’s charism, from the outside, is that perhaps the words
we use to express it do not entirely show the
difference, but I do perceive a different style. I believe
that ECYD offers teens a place where they can develop
Sonia: As a mother, I see that my children
have challenges in adolescence and I would like to help
them, but I cannot live it for them. I can
only accompany them, be with them, guide them… and it
is not easy to wait and accompany, without trying to
control or accelerate the process of maturation. What a challenge,
and sometimes… how hard!
RC.org: When the ECYD Handbook comes out,
will it be public?
Sonia: Yes, of course! Totally. It
will be a tool for those who want to know
what ECYD is, for anyone. It will mainly be for
our formators, but God willing, it could be a service
for other groups in the Church.
RC.org: Sonia and Ruth, thank
you very much!