It's something special when students and teachers from eleven schools - from the countries of Spain, France, Italy, Poland, Canada and the USA - get together for a week-long camp.
This gathering took place in Handrup. The International Youth Camp, whose motto was “Friendship”, was the highlight of the numerous activities on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Gymnasium Leoninum Handrup. From Monday, September 25, to Friday, September 29, 2023, there was an enthusiastic and relaxed “camp atmosphere” a the Gymnasium school, with English as the main language.
This meeting included around 130 foreign guests. This diverse group made the internationality of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart visible and tangible. The individual school communities had the opportunity to know each other better and to hear from each other and to learn how and to what extent they live out their Dehonian roots. This is also important for principal Franz-Josef Hanneken, who is therefore involved in the global “Educare” network of Dehonian schools (also known as SCJ Schools in Collaboration).
On the second to last evening of the camp, the individual schools prese themselves. Some did it quite simply, presenting themselves with figures, photos or on-screen presentations. Others prepared a video or even composed a rap to present themselves and their school. So this part was fun and provoked a lot of laughter.
The motto “Friendship” was to be worked on in many different ways and in varying groups during the week, and the results were also to be shown that evening. The young people also managed to do this impressively. They made a pantomime of how boys and girls deal with friendship; mini-clay sculptures were created and, of course, they also had performances of the theme with music and drama.
The team, led by project leader Thomas Kock, organized an extremely varied program throughout the week, including excursions to Bremen and Münster. The sports department organized a sports festival with creative sports such as a flag puzzle relay, tug-of-war and bubble soccer. It was not only exhausting, but above all fun – and there were medals for everyone at the end.
An international Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Father Levi dos Anjos Ferreira, SCJ, who is now a General Councilor of the Congregation and was chaplain of the school in Handrup until 2011. A strong sense of community also developed at this celebration, mainly because of the many different languages, so that everyone could feel part of the worshipping community.
On the last day of the jubilee week, Bishop Fr. Heiner Wilmer, SCJ from Hildesheim and Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Wübbe from Osnabrück – both former Leoninum students – attended the Eucharistic celebration. Bishop Wilmer gave the closing homily. Many other priests, members of religious orders and more than 1,500 people came to the schoolyard for the liturgy.
Instead of greetings from others, Fr. Levi, the Rector, Fr. Heinz Lau SCJ, and the Provincial, Fr. Stefan Tertünte, responded to the question: what was special about Handrup for them? Levi explained in Spanish, Fr. Lau in a “Low German” dialect, and Fr. Tertünte in French. The latter was especially pleased to recall “that you always find open doors whenever you have an idea or a project – even outside the classroom”.
At the end of this international week, Hans-Gert Hermann Pöttering, former President of the European Parliament, emphasized the importance of these youth meetings for international understanding. This is probably also why the program was funded by the European Union through the Erasmus+ program.
The conclusion of the week comes from the Gymnasium Leoninum homepage: “Students and parents took risks with open hearts and let the spirit of friendship blow over Gymnasium Leoninum. All those who took part experienced unique and unforgettable days!”
There are also lots of photos on the school’s website: https://leoninum.org/