“We believe… And because we believe, we are joyful!”
Living our Christian faith with joy and surrounded by sisters and brothers with whom we can share our journey to God – growing together in the hope of making a difference by our simple acts in our everyday world … That’s YouFra!
A youth branch of the Franciscan family has been established for some years in many countries, and is one of the largest youth communities in the world. It is known around the world by various names, including Youfra, Jufra, Gifra, and Eufra. YouFra exists at the regional, national and international levels of the Franciscan family.
This is what members say about themselves on the home page of their website: “We believe the world could be a better place – a place where people live as one family – with respect for each person because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. God has planted His words in every person’s heart! All our paths lead to God and our map and guide for the journey is Saint Francis of Assisi.”
In the UK a youth weekend was held in July 2013 at the Franciscan retreat centre at Cold Ash in Berkshire. As a result there are now two fraternities in OFSGB which are working with young people that may form the beginnings of a Youfra” in this country. These two groups are already organising meetings and events and hope to attend the second European OFSYoufra Congress in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in August 2015. One Cold Ash participant said: “The weekend at Cold Ash, West Berkshire has inspired me to cofound a Young Franciscans Group back in our parish”
The age of Youfra members is from fourteen to thirty. They meet in fraternities to develop as Christians, Franciscans and as integrated young people of faith. Franciscan youth is made up of ordinary young people, students, friends, colleagues, someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend, and, in addition, Jesus, in the Gospel, is the centre of their lives. This is how Saint Francis understood his life, and he is the role model and guide. Franciscan youth embrace a true community spirit and develop a sense of belonging. As it is for OFS members, the Gospel is at the centre of their lives and they are inspired to follow Christ by Francis of Assisi and the Franciscans.
Youfra has a formation plan which is specifically designed and adapted for young people, which focuses on personal growth in faith and the Franciscan message of Peace and All Good. Members of Youfra are encouraged to develop as mature adults, seeking to discern God’s aim for them. This may mean they discern a vocation to the OFS but it may not. Youfra has the support of Franciscan friars and sisters and receive support and mentoring from a local fraternity of the OFS.
Pope Benedict XVI encouraged young people to go forward courageously in what is entrusted to them. Writing in the forward for Youcat (Catechism for Youth) he says: “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11). When Israel was at the darkest point of its history, God called, not a great and renowned individual, but a young man named Jeremiah to their aid; Jeremiah felt he had been charged with a mission that was too great: “’Ah, Lord God!’ I said, ‘I know not how to speak; I am too young’.” ( Jeremiah 1:6). But God did not let Himself be dissuaded: “Say not, ‘I am too young’. To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak” (Jeremiah 1:7 ). (Youcat 2011)
At a Youfra/OFS Congress, some events are for both OFS and Youfra members, other activities are separate. There is entertainment for everyone in the evenings usually provided by the younger members. The experience is of people of different age groups working closely together, with mutual respect, as a community, as a family.
Photo Gallery: Second Youfra International Assembly, Croatia 2014
World Youth Day Cracow 2016
Cold Ash Centre of Franciscan Spirituality