By Elisabeth Román
A few months ago ¡Oye!’s staff held a focus group with Hispanic youth ministry leaders to discuss and reflect on the appeal and impact ¡Oye! is having in their ministries. One of the comments that grabbed my attention was a young man who pointed to an image of Franciscan sandals in one of the pages of the magazine and said, “I could see myself walking in these sandals.” The sandals, just like the brown robe designed in the form of the cross, are symbols of the Franciscans spirituality and identity with the poor and needy.
Like the first followers of St. Francis, the Capuchin Franciscans reveal how their fraternity and spirituality goes beyond the walls of their friary. Since the 1970s through the Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries (CYFM), Franciscans have been touching the hearts and spirits of young people and their families through retreats, outreach programs, leadership training, and faith sharing.
Each program provides participants with opportunities to learn, practice and internalize the spiritual truths of God, and many parishes look to CYFM to support the youth and family ministry within their parish.
The CYFM Center is located on 30 acres along the Hudson River, in New York, and encompasses two buildings, the St. Francis Retreat House and St. Clare Hall. The St. Francis Retreat House accommodates 72 overnight guests and features a chapel, meeting rooms and dining facilities. St. Clare’s Hall provides additional meeting space, administrative offices, and a large gymnasium, where Mass is often celebrated, indoor recreation, games, dances, and other events. The grounds also have walking trails, open fields, and picnic tables, providing a peaceful place for outdoor reflection and prayer, as well as space for organized games, relaxation and special events.
Brother Lake Herman, O.F.M. Cap., explains that “CYFM engages the senses of teens and invites their participation. We do it through personal witness talks, dynamic presentations, relevant small group discussions and activities, dramatic skits, lively music, and creative prayer services. It is not simply talk about Jesus, but an experience of Jesus being present among us. We also understand that taught does not equal learned, learned does not equal practiced and practiced does not equal internalized.”
Each year CYFM touches the lives of thousands of young people and their families who in turn touch the lives of their family members and friends. The ripple effect is incredible.
Their faith is nurtured at CYFM, and they act on this faith in the world through service to God’s people. The church, which Jesus mandated St. Francis to rebuild, is being rebuilt, one young person at a time.
What sandals could you see yourself wearing? Do you feel attracted to a life of simplicity and service to those who are poor?