The Atelier on Integral Ecology by the ecological committee of the Sisters of Charity of the General House was held on 7 May 2024. ‘Beautiful places, living spaces’: this was the theme of the second day of the annual Youth Pastoral Conference, organised by the Italian Bishops’ Conference. 450 priests, men and women religious, laymen and laywomen from all the dioceses of Italy took part, gathered in Sacrofano to reflect, discuss and live experiences that help the Italian Church to grow in its attention and care for young people!

And it was truly significant to offer our garden as a ‘beautiful place’, in which to look at the city from another perspective, and as a ‘living space’, in which to experience, through a spiritual ecological journey, that we all depend on one another, that man and woman are creatures among creatures, that sharing care for the common home with young people is possible, indeed necessary, because beauty educates us all together to meet the Creator!

It was nice to do church in our home: all together in the large lawn of our garden we felt united by our passion for young people!

These too are simple but life-generating occasions, because they have the flavour of the growing Kingdom of God!

‘Domine, quo vadis?’ is the question that formed the backdrop to the conference. It refers to an episode narrated in the Apocryphal Acts that tells of Peter leaving Rome to escape persecution but on the way he meets Jesus and asks him ‘Lord where are you going?’ and he replies that he is going to Rome to be crucified again. Thus it becomes clear to Peter that it is in Rome that he would meet Christ and he decides to reverse the steps of his journey and return there from where he was fleeing. A provocation for those who work in youth ministry – but perhaps for everyone – not to run away from the reality we inhabit, which often puts us in front of a complex and delicate scenario.

During the work, lectures and workshops were held to reflect on four key words: care, community, adulthood and communion. From the Sacrofano conference emerged the proposal of a path of identity ‘at the service’ of young people that is ‘meek, humble, adherent to reality and grateful’.