Fr. General says, “THE YEAR OF FRANSALIAN YOUTH aims at providing all the Fransalian Youth with a universal Church experience, fostering a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in and through the spirit and spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and the missionary zeal of Father Mermier. It is an intense moment of evangelization for the Fransalians to empower the youth to realize their potential at their disposal and strength in their hearts to promote peace, unity, and fraternity.”

During this Year of Fransalian Youth, we could reflect more intensively on Christus Vivit, the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of 2019 (Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment in 2018). While in the previous exhortations Pope Francis had used the theme of joy as his starting point, in this letter, he gives the reason for our joy: “Christ is alive!” (CV, 1). With this title, he focuses his call for kerygmatic evangelization contained in his previous documents. The title of the document, Christus Vivit, highlights Pope Francis’s desire to have a Christocentric dialogue with his audience. Throughout the exhortation, he invites repeatedly the young to an encounter and friendship with Jesus. As the Holy Father pastorally states, “No matter how much you live the experiences of these years of your youth, you will never know their deepest and fullest meaning unless you encounter each day your best friend, the friend who is Jesus” (CV, 150).

Provincial Circular EAP – MT.43 May 07, 2023 Provincial Circular MSFS East Africa REF. MT/43, May 07, 2023 Page 2 In describing the salvation Jesus offers, he points to the beauty of the Christian message, “How valuable must you be, if you were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ! Dear young people, ‘You are priceless! You are not up for sale!’” (CV, 122). He then provides concrete imagery to captivate the minds of young people, “Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified” (CV, 123). By presenting this image he aims at, “An approach to reality that privileges images over listening and reading,” because it best influences, “the way people learn and bring about the development of their critical sense” (CV, 86).

The central emphasis of the document is reflected in its title, “Christ is alive!” (CV, §124). With joy, the Pope presents the central truth of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and offers us eternal life. True to the kerygma proclamation, Pope Francis states, “Every other solution will prove inadequate and temporary . . . with Jesus, on the other hand, our hearts experience a security that is firmly rooted and enduring” (CV, 128). The encounter and relationship with the Risen Lord also become the sustaining force of the entire Christian life and the starting point of evangelization. Here, he again relies upon a favourite quotation of his from his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (CV, 129; cf. Deus Caritas Est, 1). This theme of encounter with the Risen Lord repeats itself throughout this Exhortation.

The Year of Fransalian Youth invites us to have a fresh experience of the kerygma with the “ability to integrate the knowledge of head, heart, and hands” (CV, 222). Let us reach out to the young people in our parishes, educational institutions and social centres that they may experience the love of Christ who lives amidst us.