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By: Sr. Nora, FMM
I arrived in my mission, French Guiana (Guyane Francaise) thirteen years ago. Situated in South America but quite different from the Latin America countries in this continent, Guyane Francaise is a “French department overseas” (department d’ outré-mer). A French colony, it became a French “department” in 1946, a transformation proposed by France to help the country develop politically and socially.
A Melting Pot of People
During the past years, the population has sprung up to 120,000 composed of a good mixture of Creoles (mixed European and African), Americans –Indians, black Africans (descendants of the African slaves who escaped in the forest during the time of slavery), Lebanese, Chinese, Indians, Haitians, St. Lucians, Brazilians, Surinamians and Laotian refugee; the latest arrivals are the Latin American immigrants. Although the American-Indians are the first inhabitants, the Creoles are the governing and ruling group. Also in the Church, the Creoles are the dominant group. There is only one diocese and our Bishops is French, belonging to the Holy Spirit Fathers.
I was assigned in Cayenne a provincial bursar. Cayenne is the main city where the different administrative offices can be found. After of adjustment with my principal work, I look other apostolic engagements such as catechism, choral and bible groups. This pastoral year, I am working with the diocesan Vocation Team which we call J.A.R. (Jeunes amis en Recherche) search-in for youth. Our team is composed of three religious of the three congregations in Guyane, a young couple, and three other lay persons with a priest as adviser. We have a whole day encounter once a month.
Sports are Important
Out youth in Guyane are so attracted by entertainment and other activities such as sport (especially football and dance lessons) that after finishing their catechism, we hardly see them in the church.
Active Youth Work
Normally, the children receive religious instruction in the parish for four years ending with the sacrament of Confirmation. After confirmation there is no more structure to meet our young people and to help them deepen their faith. With our re-orientation of the J.A.R., we try to invite our youth by offering them an on-going Christian formation so that later on, they can make a good decision and wise choice of their life, hopefully some vocations coming out. This year, we had varied activities to keep their interest:
Slide on the Old Testament prophets;
Art work made of dries leaves and ordinary materials;
Open forum and discussion on the carnival which is a custom here. Carnival Season lasts from the Epiphany until Ash Wednesday;
Animation of the traditional way of the cross in Mt. Bourda and other activities of interest to our young Guyanaese
Leave to the Lord
We had good and regular attendance of about thirty young people this year. We hope that this renewed effort to work with the youth will continue and we leave the Lord of the harvest to do the rest.