This day was a little different as the boys, fathers and leaders woke up adjusted to the time zone, to a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze blowing and the birds singing from all around us and not a single cloud in the sky! Thank you, Lord! Wolf Patrol was the first one up and in the exercise field all ready to go before even the first Italian patrol exited their tents upon the wake-up horn.
The timber wolves happily got up when summoned but their Italian brothers made it outdoors for their exercise program before we could get ourselves organized. Several our older timber wolves want to copy their older Explorer brothers by finding and then carefully guarding their walking stick. Timber Wolves, sticks, friendly wild cats, reported wild and hungry dogs, evidence of wild boars consistently draw our timber wolves into the outdoors to see what perhaps they can find today before being called to breakfast.
Once we were all organized for the morning Akela inspired by his brother Italian leaders surprised the timber wolves by getting them to run after him down the road for morning exercises. After a good jog, we undertook 50 jumping jacks and stretching exercises before heading off for a typical Italian breakfast of bread, jam, cookies, and hot drinks along with a few cookies.
The explorers, as usual, prepared their own breakfast with their twinned patrol now functioning well as language challenges largely overcome while together they harnessed the strengths of each patrol into a well functioning unit. The explorers were treated with fancy pastries as part of their morning breakfast prepared by their respective chefs. As breakfast was being prepared the Explorers commenced the labour-intensive task of dismantling their tables, rope bridges and the beautiful large tents that they were sleeping in thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our Italian hosts. We are proud of our Explorers as they rose to the physical challenge without grumbling while helping each other to get the task done in good time.
As breakfast was completed a surprise inspection of their respective patrol corners took place by the joint Italian-Canadian leadership team. One Patrol Chief asked… Polar Bear why did you not tell us that we would be having inspection this morning? Luka the Italian Chief responded, a good Explorer lead by a strong patrol chief is always prepared for the unexpected. If you keep yourself and your patrol organized and that everything is in its place, garbage is where it should be and your brothers keep their personal belongings under control a surprise inspection should be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate your well functioning and managed patrol. We can look at our faith, in the same way, are we strong in our faith, do we embrace the sacraments especially confession, are we on a solid path towards becoming one day in this life an ordinary saint?
This morning's ceremony would be a special one as the timber wolves would be joining the Explorers for the first time to come together to raise the flags, sing our respective national anthems, state the promise and law on the side of the Rome foothills overlooking a valley and a small town below. It was truly an inspiring sight. As we gathered for these ceremonies another Italian timber wolf den arrived for the day's program activities, more brothers for our timber wolves and explorers to enjoy.
The Vice President of the Italian Association made a special trip to come and bring greetings from the senior leadership team to welcome their Canadian brothers to Italy.
An amazing scene started to play out in front of us as dozens and dozens of families started to arrive complete with family pets, babies, siblings to come and meet the Canadian Timber Wolves and Explorers while bringing generous food and drinks for a “potluck” lunch. The assortment was amazing and the food volumes more than enough to feed the hundreds of people present who came to welcome FNE to Italy and to show their love and support for their brothers and sisters in North-America. When we in North-America say that we are part of a larger FSE family in Europe it is true as we have been welcomed and embraced as family members coming to visit the family from overseas.
Before lunch got underway the timber wolves played an amazing game that required catching the chicken (a leader in a chicken costume) and then setting up posts to defend against other opposing teams to gather as many eggs as possible. In the end, every timber wolf shared in a large chocolate egg as the grand prize. I can safely say that all the timber wolves consumed every possible piece of chocolate within a very short period… boys and chocolate… need we say more?
FNE through its larger FSE family embraces the importance of family with our model family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph leading the way. This message was clearly demonstrated from the moment that we arrived at Brownsea camp to the moment that we departed at the end of the day to Rome to commence our Pilgrimage.
The time now came to gather all the families and the more than 100 timber wolves and explorers together for a wonderful feast offered up by the very generous Italian families and what a feast it was. Our boys got a great deal of attention from the Italian families, their body language and for those who could speak English warmly greeted and welcomed FNE to Italy. As lunch was consumed we noted how many of out youth would seek out one or more of their brother timber wolves or explorers to eat with, to share a few more stories along with much laughter. It was a beautiful sight to see indeed that brotherhood is alive and well within our Explorer family both at the youth level and most especially at the leader and adult level. The fathers traveling with us also felt very welcome and included in all of the weekend's activities.
Now it was time to prepare for Holy Mass, this Sunday Mass was a special one, Palm Sunday. It was quite a sight to see as we gathered on an open field in front of a platform with speakers for Mass. Members of FNE were elected to participate in the opening procession and to undertake the first reading, second reading, responsorial psalm and prayers of the faithful.
The homily was very profound first given in Italian and then in English. We wish to share it with you now.
The True Glory of Humility
If we have to comment on the Gospel of the Passion, we can’t reach an end. So is all extraordinary, dramatic and joyful! But we’ll have Holy Week to do this…
We consider guys, the Gospel of the entry of Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem, along with other readings of the today.
Jesus makes an important public act: the reference is to the sacred entrance of a king: there is the procession of a famous character, with a crowd on the edges of the streets that applaud to him, shaking branches, laying blankets.
But Jesus has done this in a very strange way: He didn’t tell a powerful knight to prepare a horse for him, but a female donkey, a foal. We should have expected a sports car, a Ferrari! But Jesus comes with a subcompact car, a small car, so it is with Jesus, but so it is for every Christian and Explorer. What do we understand? Where is the glory? Thanks to Jesus, we recognize that where there is the real glory there is humility! It’s a great man, the man who is small! The leader who put themselves at the service of the smallest. The Patrol Chief has close the novice to himself, the smallest in the Patrol. And then the true glory doesn’t come from us, but from the sky! Hosanna in the heavens! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Is there anyone who is not in his name and that’s it, but in the name of the Lord. If we search for a glory that comes only from us, sooner or later we are going to remain disappointed: the secret of happiness – as well as Baden-Powell, reminds us – it is not going to start from us, by our will, but comes from God, from his name: “Our Father, hallowed is (not ours but) your name:, and this makes us capable of loving, to serve, to do good. The secret of the glory, “the true way to be happy is to bring happiness to others, “seeking to leave this world a little “Better than how we found it. “Today we are called to “cheer”, to sing, not for ourselves, but for others: talk of heaven, of Jesus Christ, of the King of Glory; a glory which passes from the Passion, from the humility and the gift of self, by a large passion, love, service to others! So be it. Amen.
The Mass was very beautiful with an excellent Mass booklet so that we could follow along as most of the mass was celebrated in Italian. The Mass was celebrated by the District Area Priest who when not celebrating Mass wears a leader uniform with a special pin highlighting that he is a Priest.
Immediately after Mass we all gathered together for closing ceremonies that included a large group picture. The Italian boys were so very very happy with the gifts that the boys brought from Canada – thank you!
As we went our separate ways many handshakes and hugs exchanged with the promise that this special relationship between our Italian brothers and sisters would not weaken but rather be strengthened.
We asked some of our timber wolves as to their thoughts as to their interaction with their Italian brothers and they offered the following reflections:
ü I really enjoyed playing games with my brother timber wolves, the are good team players, I worked hard to get to know their names and to make each other understood
ü It was cool to try to learn a few words in a new language
ü The do not cheat, their timber wolf howl is very catchy when they yell marcho, marcho, marcho
ü I like how hard the worked to try to speak to us in English
ü They are fast talkers
ü Loved singing together the “repeat after me songs”
ü They are good sportsmanship players
ü The jungle dance that we did about the red flower was so much fun
ü Their leaders are playful, they share and I can see that they love their boys just like our leaders do
ü Their leaders communicated really good with us and looked after us, we really felt that we are part of their den
ü The chicken game was so much fun, I loved getting the big chocolate Easter egg to share with my brothers
ü The trip into town to learn about their history was cook
ü The Italian timber wolves are very happy, we made new friends and we would like to see them again
ü The Italians are always on time, they participate in everything well even if they don’t want to
From an Explorer perspective, as we finish writing this story the Explorers are reliving their time with their Italian brothers through songs in Italian, cheers and chants, stories and much laughter as they share stories among one another. A very very positive and heart warming experience for each and every one of our FNE members. We look forward to our Italian brothers or sisters coming to North-America one day so that we can repay the favour.
This special bond between FNE and Italy started in the summer of 2002 when over 40 Italian Wayfarer Explorers travelled from Italy for World Youth Day being held in the city of Toronto. The FSE reached out to the only FNE group at the time for logistical and transportation help. This was the start of a beautiful relationship that we work hard to this day to strengthen. This joint camp helped today’s FNE leaders along with a few fathers truly understand what it means to be part of the larger FSE family. We are more determined than ever to return home and double our efforts to build the FNE program through the FSE method as the positive results for our children is beyond worldly measurement.
Our bus pulled out from Brownsea camp 45 minutes late as we headed to the seminary or so we thought. We knew that the driver received the wrong information when he asked us which airline terminal are we departing from? We wondered why we were approaching the airport. So a 2 hour bus ride became an almost 3 hour ride. So be it.
We arrived at the seminary (a massive modern beautiful facility) at 7.00 p.m. As we pulled up Father Thomas was waiting for us and welcomed us to the start of the retreat. We quickly unloaded the bus before heading down to our sleeping quarters. Before we entered the building, we stopped around the statue of Mary to give thanks for our safe arrival. Timber Wolves all in one room and Explorers in the other room. AN exact number of beds for each group. The leaders and dads each have a private room complete with a washroom, shower, bed and desk. No time to unpack as dinner was waiting for us in the main dining room. The boys loved what was beings served, 10 oz cheese burgers with French fries and a salad followed by the world-famous Gelato ice cream. Tired boys, well fed boys, truly happy and joyful boys! Parents you can be very proud of your son as are we.
Before heading back to the dorms we stopped by the huge and beautiful chapel where we happily found Eucharistic Adoration in process. We filed in silently to adore our Lord and give thanks before returning to the dorm for unpacking and well needed showers especially for our Explorers. Into PJ’s and all asleep in less than 5 minutes by about 10.00 p.m. as we need to ne up by 5.00 a.m. for a 5.45 a.m. bus departure to the City of Assisi.
All in all an amazing and very rewarding day.
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