Let's give the floor to Felipe!
Felipe Arancibia, 38, Chilean, is director of the ESM Salvador (Brazil) since 2019.
an interview by Laurence de Louvencourt for “Il est Vivant Magazine” (originally in French)
« To live with the youth, to mentor them, to encourage them »
I had my conversion at 27years old. Before, my existential quest was quite strong. When I was a child, I suffered a lot because my dad was an alcoholic and violence was always present at home. I used to think: « God sees all this suffering, so he cannot be my Father since he lets all this happen! » So I decided to construct my life far from God, with no limits to party and sex.
On Pentecost 2009, I was invited to attend a retreat that lasted an entire night. I accepted the invitation and lived the most determining experience of my life: I received a huge outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I felt the love of God for me. My life completely changed, I felt a strong calling in my heart to follow Jesus. This led me to start a discernment to be in the clergy: I wanted to leave everything to follow Jesus. This year to discern was also a year of healing for me. At the end, I understood that I was not called to be a priest. I sensed that God was asking me instead to live a life of celibacy consecrated to the heart of the world. I did not completely understood what the signified but I trust in Him. I let myself be guided.
After my conversion, my interaction with the public college students where I worked had completely changed. Many confided in me, since I paid attention to them. Their personal difficulties were tremendous. I could understand troubles since I came from the same background. I did not judge them. This mentoring of so many youth was for me a very clear confirmation of my calling: it is here, with the youth, that God wants me.
Sometime later, I met the Emmanuel Community. My calling into a consecrated life of celibacy was taking form. In 2015, I did the ESM in Salvador (Brazil). Then I went back to Chili to continue my job in the same college. Simultaneously, I was given responsibilities to guide the youth. Finally, I was asked to come back to ESM Salvador as the director.
Welcome the Cross
Most of the youth of today are brought up in families that suffer. And the world in which they evolve is not easy. The sources of temptations are tremendous (mobile apps, porn on the internet,… ). Amongst the students in ESM Salvador, some have already experienced sexual abuse, violence, divided family, and solitude during their childhood. Some have already had experience with alcohol and drugs. They have come to ESM after a personal encounter with Jesus and hoping to go further after Him, letting themselves guided, loved by Him, and opening their heart wide open to Him. Their first desire on arriving is to heal their wounds of the past. We are here to help them understand that the cross is part of life. To welcome this cross, is also to accept to live with the past, even if it was complicated. The next step is to move forward.
To be poor with the poor
Every Saturday afternoon, we go to neighborhoods to speak about the love of God to its habitants, with songs, music and testimonies. The youth share their story, which manifests the power of the love of God that devours all our flaws and transforms the hearts. Their wounds, where redemption occurs, becomes a privileged way to touch those who lives are dented. Our calling is to be poor amongst the poor. To recognize our poorness permits us to welcome Jesus into our life and to see hearts open around us.
Follow the motion of the Spirit
At the school, we strive to become missionary disciples. A disciple, is someone who walks with God. The objective being that we all walk together: director, team, students, there is no difference. Once a month, each one of us testifies of the work of God in our life. It’s a beautiful and touching experience. In Christus Vivit, Pope Francis says that the youth awaits for adults to walk with them, with their own personal experience, their joys and sorrows. This exhortation of Pope Francis bring joy to me. It gives a solid reference for the youth and those that accompany them: to not judge but to live with them, to accompany them, to encourage them.
Most important is to be always open to the Holy Spirit. The most beautiful events that we have with the students are not those that are programmed but those that are inspired. On Pentecost 2019, for example, we received during the prayer an inspiration to propose to the students a school of charisms; and the outcome is beautiful!