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adol 2017 02a moment of activityAbout three years ago, two parishes in Pistoia, Italy -- St. Benedetto and St. Francesco -  worked together to produce a growth experience for the teenagers who just had confirmed. There were about fifteen of them, and it was a challenge to find ways that would catch their attention. With surprise and wonder we share their joy as they were able to stay together, to talk among themselves and share thoughts about deep issues.

On one of the days, we asked them to propose a modern parable of the Good Samaritan. It was beautiful to see how, through their imagination, they performed the scene, setting it in the central square of their city. In their parable, a boy gets mugged and falls to the ground, but nobody helps him: a Sister walks past him and doesn’t stop; a parish choir boy comes by, and he doesn’t stop either.

adol 2017 01going out with the teenagersAt the end of the day, a Roma boy comes, stops and takes care of him… When teenagers thought about who might be today’s ‘Samaritan,’ they imagined him as a Roma. Interesting!  When we talked with them about why they chose a Roma, they said that most despised people are Roma - and they also expressed a lot of prejudices they themselves harbor against them.

We, as counselors, took the opportunity to invite a Roma boy whom we knew to attend the next meeting. When he arrived, he began to socialize with them - and then we introduced ourselves. This boy, whose name is T., at first did not tell them he was a Roma. We conducted an activity that explored the prejudices we carry inside us, and eventually we asked T. if he had experienced some of them in his life. At this point, T. told us that he had first-hand experience of prejudices because he is a Roma. He told us he had felt prejudice and non-acceptance since he was a child, and that he had work hard to show who he really is, beyond the labels and stereotypes.

adol 2017 03the meeting with our Roma friendThe teenagers listened to him with wide eyes, filled with curiosity and wonder, they asked many questions and, in the end, they told that they had been prejudiced too, that they also had had wrong ideas about Roma. They expressed the wish to know more about the Roma, and asked if they could go to visit him.

Some said that they had Roma students in their class, and that henceforth they would try to show and feel no more prejudice or indifference. With T. himself, a very beautiful relationship remains, sometimes he comes to our meeting and his presence is always positive and welcomed.

This experience taught them clearly that we fear what we don’t know. The educational task is exactly this one: to help teenagers think with their minds, deepen their knowledge, to go beyond the hearsay and, above all, to teach that behind the face of our brothers and sisters there is Jesus.

Sr Maria Gabriella D'Agostino, sfp

Pubblicato: 02/05/2017