Rain, cold, mist and picturesque grass of the most intense green: after two months of sunny summer holidays on the continent Ireland presented itself in its most famous features to the returning DYC members from Italy and Germany, ready for another year of spreading the Good News of the Gospel among the people of Derry of whom they have become so fond. But among the familiar faces were mixed new ones, belonging to fresh community members, new colleagues, incoming students. Thus, far from being the same old, well known, deeply incorporated routine, the new term brings new challenges and endeavours and expects of everybody flexibility, open mindedness and enthusiasm, which is essential for further personal growth and development.
Excitement, nervousness, hushed voices and a sea of girls newly clad in spotless deep-water-blue uniforms: just a few months out of primary school, the incoming Year 8 in St. Mary’s College sat restlessly on their chairs wondering anxiously what was about to happen. This was it: their first real day as grown-ups in secondary school; today they would be formally inducted into their new school community. But before, there was the Derry Youth Community waiting for them to prepare them in a short retreat for what lay ahead of them, all those uncertainties and novelties. How could anyone cope with all of that? The answer, explored and explained in art, crafts, games, meditations, reflections, was simple and challenging at once. We all have to trust the one who has laid out the pass in front of us, who has equipped us with the gifts and talents that we have, who has put us into this new environment with all these new people for a very specific reason, who wants us to be awesome, who wants us to become friends for life. Henceforth, at the end of the day, we encountered Himself in Holy Communion and every new student proudly received the St. Mary’s Truth-Badge reminding her to be truthful to the one who is the only way to gain life to the fullest.
God has a plan for us and has send His Son Jesus to walk along the way together with us, opening our eyes to discover the wonders He has prepared for us. That is our firmest belief, and it makes no difference, in which stage of life we are right now, entering a new school or commencing a new year in a known but unceasingly changing environment. At the end of this stage we shall emerge transformed, “moulded into the pattern of his Son” (Romans 8:29), just to move on to the next stage, until the path comes to its, hopefully glorious, end.