In 1983, an Italian nun called Sister Elvira Petrozzi founded the Cenacolo Community, an organization to help young people whose lives had taken a wrong turn. Now the organization can be found in many countries worldwide and, as most pilgrims to Medjugorje know, there is a Cenacolo centre nearby.
Many of the young people who enter the Cenacolo community are addicted to drugs, alcohol or both and want to give up their former way of life. Nowadays, with the technological advances, the addictions have widened to include addiction to video games and other electronic devices.
The aim of the Community is to foster a sense of family and community in the individuals seeking help. The methods used are not based on medical intervention. Through faith, prayer, work, and the virtue of charity, the young people begin to have a sense of belonging, thus building hope, healing, and a new outlook as Jesus Christ becomes the centre of their lives.
The picture of the little girl and boy superimposed on the Cenacolo photograph, is used as a logo in the Medjugorje Community. It is taken from a famous photograph and illustrates the addict’s past of lies, violence, deception and the DARKNESS of a life without God. Life in the community leads the addict, through prayer, onto a path of hope, of conquest, of faith and of LIGHT. Guided by faith, prayer and the encounter with God, hearts, eyes and life itself is changed.
Most pilgrims who visit Medjugorje have heard the young people giving testimonies of their experiences before, during, and after they entered Cenacolo. You may have seen the movie “The Triumph” which documents the experiences of Ben as he struggles with his addiction, his entry into Cenacolo, his departure from that community, and finally, his re-entry to a life where his daily struggles are united with those of Christ.
Cenacolo communities around the world adhere to the same charism – to live on Divine Providence and be grateful for whatever has been donated to them. With the ongoing pandemic, their worlds have been turned upside down.
With 20 girls and 50 boys in the community, as well as three families and two young children, the logistics of daily living are more than a challenge in the best of times. Now, however, they find that without pilgrim groups coming to hear their testimonies, making donations and buying gifts from their shop, their financial situation is not good.
We all know the amazing work these young people have been doing for years around Medjugorje. Each year when we return, we find that Krisevac, Apparition Hill as well at the area around Blue Cross are safer and easier to climb. We know of the many stories of the Cenacolo boys carrying people from Krisevac when they fall and injure themselves. They also had the honour of carrying Fr Slavko Barbaric’s body from the hill when he passed away at the top of Krisevac in 2000.
These young people even this year have been working hard to make life easier for local communities and for pilgrims. They do all of this without recompense. Like all families, they need to pay for electricity, water charges and petrol for their vehicles. We hope that you can find it in your heart to want to help them through these difficult times.
Your help will be gratefully accepted.