A small group of West Island, Montréal youth, the core of which was formed last summer during a conference, is excitedly preparing to have a similar experience this summer.
Last year's conference was part of a worldwide series of 114 conferences held on every continent in response to a call from the Universal House of Justice, the international governing council of the Baha’i community. Three of these conferences were held in Canada — in Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Responding to the surge of energy generated by the conferences, the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, the governing body of the Baha’is in this country, has recently decided to convene a new series of ten conferences to be held in Canada this summer, in Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna.
During last year's conference, the small group of West Island friends, like the participants in the other conferences around the world, discussed various ways of serving humanity, and explored themes such as friendship and mutual support. This latter concept motivated them to take joint action, and with an enthusiasm that surmounted any personal obstacles.
One member of the group said: “We understood that we had a common goal and a common desire and that it was necessary to support one another. It does not mean to lean on one person, but to lean on all of us, collectively.”
The concept of mutual support became particularly clear for the youth when they assessed the reality of their immediate surroundings — their neighbourhood — to see how they could improve it.
After the conference, they decided to continue working together and to meet every week. Together they studied a document that provided them with the training needed to form small groups of people younger than themselves, with the goal of supporting them in their moral and spiritual development.
After several months, one person who had participated in these gatherings said that he did not want them to end because the weekly discussions were too interesting and rewarding. When they finished going through the study materials, the group decided to continue getting together regularly to discuss new projects, among other things.
The projects they have undertaken include three groups created to contribute to the spiritual empowerment of young people entering adolescence. Thanks to the efforts of the initial group formed at the time of last summer’s conference, and whose members were greatly inspired to serve their community, the groups are now meeting regularly in Pierrefonds, Kirkland, and Pincourt.
All the groups are accompanied by two experienced facilitators — a young couple with a new baby — who report that the gatherings are always the high point of their week. They have developed strong friendships with members of the groups and feel close to them because they work together to build a community that is spiritually richer.
All these young people are making new friends, and they plan to invite them to the conference that will be held in Montréal in July so that they can also have the same experience.