Success Story in Lithuania
A centre for the evangelization of young people
Five years ago the Sisters of Divine Providence established a convent in the town of Utena, a regional industrial centre in the north-east of the country which has a number of schools and universities, and consequently a large population of young people.
There are two Catholic parishes here, both of which offer a range of activities for young people. Despite this, the Sisters were saddened to discover that many young people still see God as above all, a scrutinizing and punishing God – never coming to know him as a loving and forgiving Father, offering hope and unconditional love.
The Sisters also found that many Catholics who had heard something of the Gospel message through Baptism, First Communion, weddings or funerals; were still struggling to answer basic questions such as these: “Aren‘t all religions equal?”; “Can a modern, educated person really also be sincerely a Catholic?”; “Can the Catholic faith really be reconciled with the findings of science and modern life?” The Sisters often found themselves confronted with statements like, “I believe that Jesus was a good and wise man, but I don‘t believe he was God.”
Instruments of the saving love of God
Therefore, for six months, the Sisters went into the schools in order to help the young people find answers to these questions. This program was so well received that the they began to think that the tremendous demand for answers was a sign from God. And so, they decided to establish an evangelization centre in their convent. This is also entirely in the spirit of their foundress, Marija Rusteikaitė, who said, “The Spirit of God encourages us to become instruments of the saving love of God, especially by helping people to encounter God in their own lives.” This motivated the Sisters to go out into the towns.
They now want to give this opportunity to young people and young adults to spend some time, even a few days, in this evangelization centre, taking part in days of recollection and other such events. They need to be able to accommodate groups of up to 20 young people at a time. There will be spiritual exercises, talks and discussions based around the Theology of the Body of Saint John Paul II, weekend meetings for vocation discernment, individual counselling and accompaniment of young people and adults, and programs for women traumatized by abortion. The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in the chapel throughout this time and the Sisters and young people will take turns in adoration. It will also be open to any Catholics from outside. To achieve this end, some adaptation and extension work to the convent will be necessary.