“This is the Church!”  At Frat 2024, a gathering under the sign of joy and diversity

“This is the Church!” At Frat 2024, a gathering under the sign of joy and diversity

From May 17 to 20, 11,500 young Christians from Ile-de-France gathered in Jambville (Yvelines) for Frat 2024. A gathering that celebrates fraternity as much as diversity.

The continuous flow of young people does not exhaust themselves when they leave the big top. This outing from mass stands out from the courtyards of classic churches. Green cap, propeller bucket hat, orange sweatshirt, cowboy hat: each group participating in Frat 2024 in Jambville has its own distinctive sign to help you find your way in the crowd. And there is something to be said for it. This year, the gathering of Christians aged 13 to 15 from Ile-de-France and organized by the association The Fraternal at the invitation of the bishops brings together around 11,500 young people. A record which delights the organizers of this pilgrimage open to the greatest number.

Pick up young people where they are

At the entertainment microphone during the services, the famous Christian rock group Glorious sets the tone. The rhythm is energetic. The choruses repeated in unison can be heard several kilometers away. A concert and testimonies were also organized with the rap group Ludjxiboys. “We want to seek out young people where they are, by adapting to their language, their code,” explains Marguerite Niel, head of the Frat. Among the participants, the eight dioceses of Ile-de-France are represented: “The profiles are very heterogeneous and represent the unity of the church,” continues the employee of the organizing association.

With their purple buoys around their waists, Djaellan, Esteban, Enzo, from the diocese of Meaux, still sing at the top of their lungs the song popularized on the social network Tik Tok How not to praise you: “To be so many singing and praying at the same time is great!” At their side, their guide, Mbolatiana, listens attentively: “I am proud to show them that we can live our faith in such a joyful and festive way. Thanks to them, I feel free in my own practice.”

A “modern” and joyful church

In the center of the large lawn, below the marquee, while an impromptu football match was underway, four friends found a place on trestles. They share a glass of juice bought at the tavern. Everyone agrees: “We love the lively songs, they're modern. The ones in Latin with the organ are very beautiful but I admit: they bore me a little” laughs Amélie, followed by her accomplices. Alice adds: “Those who don't know the Church tend to think that religion is an old person's thing, but with the Frat, we see clearly that we can be young… and Catholic.”

A little further away, Raphaël, 14 years old, came with the chaplaincy of his college in Essonne. “When I see all these people, I also realize that I am not alone,” he says.

Proud to be Catholic

Many priests and chaplains are also present. Sitting away from the crowd, Father Benoît taps on his phone. He posts a video of the mass on his Instagram account. “If nothing will replace meeting people, networks remain a privileged place to talk to young people and touch them. It’s important not to be ashamed of who we are,” he confides. For Julien, guide of a group from Seine-Saint-Denis “We can learn from our Muslim or evangelical friends, who speak easily about their religion and master the tools and techniques of communication. We must do the same and be proud of our faith !”

The day before, ten young people received the sacrament of baptism in front of all the participants. A lively evening full of emotions. “In my parish, many were baptized as babies,” explains Father Benedict. “This event reminds everyone that Jesus can still transform lives, whatever their age.”

The profiles, very heterogeneous, represent the unity of the church

Marguerite Niel

frat manager

Their cheeks reddened by the generous late afternoon sun, the young people return to “their village”, in which they have been gathered by diocese. Some are already dreading the goodbyes the next day but they will keep in mind the refrain repeated so often during these three days of this year's anthem entitled “Don't slow down.”

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