IYCS Rekindling the Joy of the Gospel in the Students Milieu


The International Secretariat of IYCS and IYCS Asia coordination together with YCS Thailand held the 2nd International Chaplains and Animators Formation Exchange with the theme, Rekindling the Joy of the Gospel in the Student Milieu,” from 07 to 13th March 2018 at the St. Gabriel’s Academic and Recreation Center, Nonthaburi Province, Thailand.

The I-CAFÉ brought over 23 delegates composed of Chaplains, Animators, and a few student representatives from nine National Movements namely Thailand, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Others in attendance where the IYCS African coordinator from Kenya and the International Chaplain Fr. Charles Menezes from Paris who facilitated the Session.

Why hold a CAFÉ?

The Chaplains and Animators Formation Exchange (CAFÉ) has become an institutional platform within the YCS wherein chaplains and animators who accompany the young students in the movement gather to share their experiences and strengthen their formation for accompaniment for the young adults / students in their respective Movements / Country.

The CAFÉ is a space created for Chaplains and Animators at a grass root level, to exchange their experiences, success stories, challenges, and to find a way forward together. It is also a great opportunity for them to listen to students’ voices and expectations towards their chaplaincy and accompaniment.

Training and ongoing formation is always an important element in attaining success in any given task. It not only creates a deeper understanding, but also to empower the recipients with the capacity to take meaningful actions for better results.

2nd International CAFÉ

Eight years after the 1st International CAFÉ, having realized that with the emergence of new challenges that young people faces especially in the students milieu, coupled with the new chaplains and animators who have joined our Movement, the need to offer them all the support they can get to be able to carry out the mission of evangelization in the student Milieu taking into account the peculiarities of young people and method of accompaniment proposed by the IYCS.

Chaplains and animators play a very vital role in the youth and student apostolates as YCSers have expressed their yearnings for priest and adults who give their time to journey with them as they make choices about their future and about their life in the Faith.

As a Movement of Catholic Action who aims to be Apostolic, YCS sees the role of the Chaplain as indispensable. Not only have they contributed to the building of YCS and its involvement in the life of the Church and society, their presence among young people have helped them to continue to grow in a holistic way. Hence the 2nd IYCS International CAFÉ was organized.

With two objectives in mind, 1) To fosters students and youth engagement in Church and society through the accompaniment of Chaplains and Animators; and 2) To create a platform for exchange of ideas and experiences of the chaplains and animators from different countries.

Why Thailand?

The Asian Coordination and consequently most of the National Movements in Asia, has had vast experience in the organization and facilitation of Regional and National CAFÉ’s and has brought very passionate and enthusiastic inputs to the entire Movement.

YCS Thailand did expressed strong desire to host the 2nd I-CAFÉ haven previously hosted similar events at the regional level. However, the choice was also linked to the fact that the IYCS Asian Coordination has recently experienced difficult challenges that have affected the leadership in the regional coordination. As the National Movements in the region are currently undergoing reflection towards revitalizing the regional coordination, the leaders of our movement around the world have expressed their desires to be in solidarity with this region of our Movement. This feeling materializes not only in the assurance of our prayers, but also in our presence, specifically in bringing together the chaplains and animators from around the world to Asia, to reflect on the Mission.

At the same time, YCS Thailand also celebrated 60th anniversary of its establishment and held various trainings and programs for their National Movement (Key Leaders Camp, National Camp, and the grand Anniversary Celebration).

In light of these events, the I-CAFÉ, brought 8 out 14 of the National Movements in the Asian Region, including YCS Thailand. In joining them in celebration and to be in solidarity with their National Movement, the experience of I-CAFÉ together with YCS Thailand’s programs, it has brought into fruition a positive future for the Asian Coordination, brought about by the strong sense of YCS spirituality, leaving us an imprint of eagerness to move forward in love and unity for the mission of YCS: To boost the spirit of YCS in Asia – truly helping awaken the Joy of the Gospel in each one of us.

Renewed YCS Spirit

Eight years after the first I-CAFÉ, the Movements all over the world have worked towards evangelization, bringing our young people closer to Christ and walking with them to grow into active members of the Church and society. Upon the conclusion of our 2nd I-CAFÉ, with a renewed spirit of the mission the chaplains and animators in attendance, had deeper reflection on their role and how they can be more effective in the light of the changing world.

They emphasized their position as figures whom young people look up to, not just as leaders but as people whom they can be friends with to accompany them in their personal lives, in their ever-changing environments. “We realized that we are friends who help them understand the vocation God calls us to have within YCS and to help them grow in their YCS spirituality” – a group of people who care about their faith and development in the Movement and in the world. We realized that we cannot just be people who take a step backwards, but to be ever-present figures who can accompany them throughout their journey in life, to create a space for them to grow, to be with them as they give life to the movement and to sustain this way of life for Christ. It goes without saying that they are not just Chaplains and Animators, but role models of empowering the young people through accompaniment in all aspects of life within and outside the YCS Movement.

From the reflection at the I-CAFÉ, it was concluded that some of the most effective ways to be there for our young people include

  • Having regular reflections; Continuous learning and self-improvement
  • To be Persons of faith; Persons of trust; Morally sound and spiritually strong; Be a spiritual and renewed person; Person of God
  • Listen and exchange views with the students; Truly listening from the heart
  • Collaborate with all other chaplains and animators (as iron sharpens irons), to strengthen each other
  • Identify opportunities for service and resources to carry out this task
  • Having the courage to face challenges; Reach out to the youth on their situations and environment
  • Regular communication with families and church
  • Participate and organize formation and training programs
  • Develop resource material to guide the animator in accompanying the youth.
  • Being always available for them when need be
  • Having the proper knowledge about the YCS and students dynamics
  • Being a good role model and easily approachable
  • Have a deep Knowledge about the youth in order to accompany them; Be updated with the present-day youth realities; And the need to be aware of modern concerns and realities so that we can understand them better
  • Have a clear vision and mission to accompany them
  • Conducting regular and effective cell meetings following the See, Judge and Act methodology
  • Being updated with the teachings of the Church.
  • Be available for all the situations of life they may face
  • OMG – Online Missionary of God

By having a greater understanding of the young people that we shepherd, knowing that it is not an easy task, we learned more about what it is to be in YCS today and having the deeper reflection of our vocation as Chaplains and Animators. This CAFÉ definitely allowed us to know what IYCS truly is and what and who we are but at the same time, being updated by the realities every one of us face in our own National Movements around the world.

Having this space created for us to be formed and have exchanges with one another has allowed us to reflect on the diversity of our Movement and through this, knowing we are a Global Movement rich in Apostolic Catholic Action, we go through our successes and challenges together in order for us to live and move through the teachings of the Church. Going through our mission as chaplains and animators, we are united in the same vision of rekindling the Joy of the Gospel in the student milieu.


Althea Gwynne M. Geronilla

Administrative Assistance IYCS Asia/Participant

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