A Friend We Can Be With and Follow
Young people in Toronto come together to get to know Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
In admiration for the local Knights meeting many of you participated in a few weeks ago, Paolo, the children and I organized our first in-person meeting. Here in Canada the restrictions on gathering continue to be far more stringent but we wanted to follow the lead of finding a creative and safe way to be together.
On the day we picked, we were hit with torrential rain and hail. Since we live in a building, we enlisted the help of my parent's, and we were relegated to playing in a car garage! The children invited other families in our community and classmates from school. In total there were thirteen kids including our youngest.
After all the children introduced themselves, Paolo asked, "How many of you want to be happy and how many of you really want to be able to love?" After they raised their hands, he continued, “We are very lucky that we have been given friends that we can be with and follow. We learn with and from them how to be happy and learn to love ourselves and others.” We introduced Pier Giorgio Frassati and how we wanted to play these games together in the same way he enjoyed doing activities and staying with friends.
The inability to go outside required us to modify some of our activities, but we had a fair number of games planned that we could do in the garage. To comply with all COVID-related regulations, we left a garage door partially open, and everyone wore a mask at all times except when eating a snack. Chairs were distanced, and we used sanitizer on hands and communal objects throughout the games and in between games.
They had a lot of fun playing! Because there were a lot of boys, we had to divide them more by age. There was a group of boys around eight to nine years old and then another group of twelve-year-old children. After the games our eldest daughter read out a short bio of Pier Giorgio that she had edited that really brought out his humanity to the children. We ended with snacks and hot chocolate, and then we recited the Lord's Prayer all together, including the parents who had come for pickup.
Due to restrictions in different jurisdictions there were far fewer families from the Movement than we had expected. It would have been natural for my children to share such an experience with them because it was similar to our games at the vacations. So I was surprised when my children felt free to invite other classmates and friends. I say “surprised” because, as we planned, they understood they weren't inviting friends to a “playdate,” therefore they really took time to think about the friends they wanted to share this moment with.
I was moved by how Paolo and my daughter could speak of our friend Pier Giorgio in a way that captured the hearts of not only the little children but the older kids as well. I understood that she was taking a big risk speaking freely in this way without fear of judgment from these classmates.
We had the same experience that Raffaela shared: “many of the parents were grateful.” First, they expressed gratitude that we had organized a “safe” environment in terms of COVID for their children to be with friends. But the next day also, after their children had described the afternoon's events, they wrote to us of their gratitude for the time we had taken to organize actual games as opposed to just letting the kids “hang out” and for our having shared with their children the fact that a saint could be their friend.
Finally, I was grateful for how this gesture also touched my parents. They are both in their seventies and need to be careful about their health. But after everyone left, they couldn't stop talking about how beautiful it was to have all these children visit and they asked their grandchildren if they wanted to do this every month!
The children look forward to writing to your children to share their experiences.
Here are a few pictures.
A big hug to all,
Laura, Toronto, Canada