AFRICAN YOUTH FORUM: THE ICMICA WE WANT
Over the years, it has been observed that there has been a slow transition from the Students Movement (IMCS) to the Professional Movement (ICMICA). A Youth Forum was organized on 22nd January 2022 to bring young people together with the leaders of ICMICA to share their views.
The objectives of the forum were:
- To hear from young professionals and fresh graduates on how they view ICMICA
- To understand their expectations from the Professional Movement (ICMICA)
- To initiate a conversation on how to ensure smooth transition from students to Professionals
The meeting started by the prayer of Nobert Mofya, the NMCS Zambia National President.
The forum was moderated by Mrs. Catherine Njuguna from Kenya, a former Pan African Coordinator of IMCS.
Catherine welcomed all participants and shared the objectives of the meeting.
Before the discussion started, she emphasized that everyone should have their “WHY” clear: why this discussion is important. Why do we need to be part of the Professional group? Why does ICMICA have to exist?
Catherine Njuguna, insisted that we are part of the synod process and we need to make our voice heard. We need to look at it in terms of “the what”, “the how” and “the who”.
The fact that we are baptized, we are to respond to the needs of our time and the needs of the Church that call us upon.
After identifying the WHY, the WHAT is also important. What does your group do? As the young people joining ICMICA, what do you do? What can you do?
After lying the background, she called the first speaker, the International President of ICMICA, Ana Maria to make her Presentation.
ICMICA as a Global Movement by Ana Maria Bidegain, International President of ICMICA
Ana Maria began by sending her greetings from the Americas and the Caribbean, where she was.
As members of ICMICA she said we think and act on concrete issues that affect the realities where we live in and the church. We want to be faithful to the message of Jesus that cries out for justice.
She said that the current community did not start with us but for 100 years students from many corners of the world, and for 75 years, Catholic professionals and intellectuals have been making this journey. Often these people, gathered in small communities of equals, use a method, a spiritual path that allows them first to see and analyze the reality that surrounds them.
Sharing our experience helps us to clarify the deep motivations, the spiritual reasons that give meaning to our life choices and to our commitment and integration in society.
Therefore, it is important to reflect critically on our actions, the ways we find to face Christian practice, and to be able to let ourselves be challenged by the need for coherence between the proposal of Jesus and the life of each one of us.
Today, as yesterday, we must continue to make this contribution and look for new options that help each one of us to live our lives in fullness and with meaning based on our fundamental spiritual options.
Strengthening and expanding our global community will be possible today if all the continents are walking together and be a truly global community.
That is why the presence of Africa at global level is so important to strengthen the ties.
ICMICA in Africa by Atranus Method, ICMICA Deputy Vice President for Africa
Method mentioned that the movement exists in 20 countries in Africa. It has its own structure: the executive team formed by the International Vice President (Jules Zannou, Benin), the Deputy VP (Atranus Method, Tanzania), the Secretary General (Perlagia Kapuya, Zimbabwe) and Deputy SG (Adoree Andrianomenjanahary, Madagascar), the Chaplain and the Regional Coordinator (Olive Maria, Madagascar). In every country, there are elected officials as well.
ICMICA Africa has a Board of Trustees which is composed of the representatives of the national movements.
There are also two committees: the Thematic Committee that works on programme and thematic areas of the movement and the Finance Committee who oversees the management of finance and strategizes on how to raise funds.
How do we establish a sustainable Pax Romana? By Aurelie Monganzimbi Kwenzongo from DRCongo, IMCS Pan African Coordinator
Aurelie started by highlighting about Pax Romana and what brought the two movements together. As ways to build a sustainable Pax Romana, Aurelie recommended the following:
- Creating a network of dialogue
- Creating a network of human resources
- Group of trainers to train young people and
- Group to work on common projects and look for partners
- Group of counsellors
- Reinforcing our spirituality
At the end, she concluded that we should not forget our Christian callings. In whatever we do, we should not forget that we are Christians. Spirituality should be at the heart of everything we do. Lire plus …
What do young people expect from ICMICA by Tererai Madzivanyika from Zambia, ICMICA Africa Youth Ambassador
Because of the slow transition over the years, a survey was conducted by the two newly appointed Regional Youth Ambassadors (Paul Vinny from DR Congo and Terari Madzivanyika from Zambia) to ascertain on the real reasons of the discouragement of young people to join the professional branch. They believed that results of the survey will help them to take the appropriate actions and advise the respective leaders appropriately.
From the survey, the main desires of the young people can be summarized as the following:
- Good integration of the fresh graduates students to the professional movement, to be done locally (national level) and regionally (continental level).
- Accompaniment and mentorship of the young people to grow professionally
- More space for learning and exchange on professional experiences
- Spiritual accompaniment from the chaplains and the elders
To know the youth expectations in details, read here
Presentation of the Young Ambassadors by Olive Maria, ICMICA Africa Coordinator
Maria shared that the resolution to have the youth ambassadors was made during the Assembly of ICMICA in Abidjan in 2018. The executive of ICMICA appointed Paul Vinny from DR Congo in 2018 as the francophone ambassador and Terari Madzivanyika from Zambia in 2021 as the Anglophone Ambassador.
The structure that being put in place is to have at least two national ambassadors in each country to work closely with the regional ambassadors and the national executive team.
The missions and responsibilities of the Youth Ambassadors are:
- Act as young professionals’ spokespersons/advocates to defend youth interests and agenda.
- Represent the young professionals in any Regional or International Youth Forum and actively participate in related activities.
- Find opportunities to collaborate with other Young Professional Movements and like-minded organizations to support the youth agenda.
- Support the transition of young graduates to professional movement: contribute to the development and execution of the campaign’s strategies.
- Organize training to help young graduates to know about ICMICA in their respective countries.
- Work closely with the national executive of IMCS, IYCS to ensure a smooth transition to the professional movement.
- Connect young graduates to the community of young professionals in each country.
- In collaboration with the continental ambassadors, develop and organize regional activities and training programs that support the development of young people.
- Draft surveys for the members to continue to learn more about them and present the findings as well as recommendations to the executive team and the national leaders of ICMICA.
- Draft position letters, statements on behalf of the young professional on a special matter that affect the youth and requires public and authorities’ attention.
- Reach out to local media to talk about the issues facing young people entering the workforce.
- Promote social media and video campaigns to promote the organization, gain attention on youth matters, and empower fellow youths.
Maria introduced the Young ambassadors in various countries.
The difficulties and challenges of young graduates and young professionals transiting to ICMICA, What are the solutions? By Paul Vinny, ICMICA Youth Ambassador
ICMICA is a secular movement made up of intellectuals committed to actions. We have many challenges that are hindering ICMICA. To name a few:
- We are not visible. In some countries, ICMICA does not exist.
- We do not collaborate: we do not want to open ourselves to the world. In some countries, we have leaders of ICMICA that are not in good terms with the young people.
- ICMICA goes beyond IMCS. It is true that IMCS started ICMICA but ICMICA opens its doors to all catholic communities.
The main issue that needs to be addressed is the transition and the young ambassadors are there to facilitate that.
Catherine Njuguna clarified that many people understand the structure of ICMICA. Anytime there is a sub-regional meeting, people were taken through what ICMICA is and through the structure of ICMICA, etc.
After Vinny’s presentation, it was time for interactions and questions.
Some challenges of our time with our young people is that “they want the opportunities from you but not you showing them the way” one participant commented. The moderator insisted that when we invite people to talk to us, the journey of mentorship is not just the money or the benefit in terms of that.
The point is that the young person want to have something to belong to. Something that pushes him or her to ICMICA. So if we do not have the answer the why of ICMICA, it is hard. There should be a manual. At the moment, there are no material that can be used to inform young people about ICMICA. If there is a material that can be distributed to young people, it would be of great help.
Young people feel that ICMICA will not do anything better than them. What Professionals do, should inspire the young people.
Young people hope that professionals can be available to students. Visiting students movement and educate them while they are still in schools.
The International President, Ana Maria Bidegain expressed her gratitude for the conversation and promised to bring the topic to the attention of the international council. She believed that the situation in Africa is not different from other regions as well.
The moderator concluded by saying:
- It is always a question who comes to who. The Catholic Professionals struggle in between the movement and their families. The Church also needs them to be there.
- We think global and act local. We belong to our parishes. There is a professional group in that parish. The first thing everyone needs to do is to find out. In your local parish, is there a group of Catholic lawyers, catholic doctors, etc.? We need to have this mixture among the students and the professionals. We need to reflect the kinds of mentorship we need.
- At a national level, we need to find out the network of Catholic Professionals that exists and get involved.
- At regional level, we need to find out and consider the opportunities and challenges to overcome to bring young people to the Professional movement. What does it take to be a Catholic Professional? How can I be a good Catholic Professional and share that with the Catholic Students? We need to know how we can revive the movement? How do we get the information ? How do we get connected? Students need to have a clear idea on the professional world after their studies.
- Above all, we need to be clear on how we work with our episcopal conferences and our national chaplains. Do we get in touch regularly with our chaplains?
VOTE OF THANKS
ICMICA International Vice President for Africa, Dr Jules Zannou expressed his gratitude to the international team represented by the International President Ana Maria, to Dr Fredrick Wamalwa, the former African Vice President for his presence, to moderator Catherine Njuguna for her service and inputs and to all participants for their contributions.
The moderator thanked everyone and called father Sixte for the closing prayer and final Blessing.
Father Sixte Hakizimana from Rwanda closed the meeting with a word of prayer and a final blessing.