Discovering youth ministry in the Portugal Province

An interview with Fr. Duarte Rosado, SJ

The Portugal Province is known for its ministry with the youth. With over 1000 young people in the university centres, the youth apostolate sets an example in executing the third Universal Apostolic Preference practices. Here is an interview with Fr Duarte Rosado, the coordinator of the youth apostolate in the Portugal Province since February 2022 post his Tertianship. He finished his theology (first and second cycle) in Rome, and after his ordination, he was appointed as the socius to the Novice Master for three years. Besides being the full-time youth coordinator, he also functions as the vocation promoter, working closely with the youth. In his free time, he loves playing the guitar and has produced music albums in the recent past.

Tell us about the youth apostolate in the Province.

“Our history goes back to 1976 when three Jesuits began to think about a new apostolate with the youth after finishing their studies. They started this ministry with the university students close to Coimbra, which was not attached to the University then. A seed sown then has become one of the primary ministries of the Province. We have four university centres right now, with one working with the diocese. We are talking about 1000s of youth who are part of these centres.

Every year there are almost 25 summer camps with volunteers and animators who share in the Jesuit charism. A unique thing about these camps is that we promote a cell phone-free space. This experience has got to do with developing imagination and creativity; it is a time to be ‘real’. We have seen this helping the youth create a space inside themselves to reflect. We have Spiritual Exercises given to the youth in the retreat house near Coimbra. In the recent past, we have had almost 1000s of youth doing the Spiritual Exercises, and the university centres have their separate retreats. It’s a culture in our Province to animate the Spiritual Exercises.”


Working with the youth is very consoling, but at the same time, it comes with challenges and even more responsibilities. What do you think are some of the challenges you face while you deal with the youth?

“Young people have always been challenging. But today, the biggest challenge that I would say is the new world that technology opens, and I guess that is the greatest challenge we have today. In this digital world, people think differently, say things differently, and act differently. It is hard for young people to avoid smartphones and stay away from the culture of the digital world where everything is reachable. I remember when I was a kid listening to music. There was no digital music, and everything was analogical. In those days, we needed to wait to listen to music, and there was this passion for listening to it. I had to save money to buy my favourite CDs, and I had so much love and desire to listen to them when I purchased them. But today, everything is so accessible and reachable. This is a big difference today as we say, ‘faith deals with thirst, and there is a significant dimension of faith in thirst’.

Another thing is the fact that beautiful things take time to grow because it is a process. And this is not easy for young people to understand. Time is needed to process and develop. And often, young people need this patience and time to understand this process. We need a critical spirit to enter this reflective world.”


As the youth coordinator, what are your expectations for MAGIS 2023, which will be hosted in Lisbon by the Portugal Province?

“We have big expectations, honestly. Everything that was planned has been going on well. I have never been in any of the MAGIS programs before, or for that matter, in any World Youth Day. I hope this event will be a beautiful experience to share faith with young people across the world. My other expectation is that we create a culture of vocation promotion in our Province and the Society of Jesus. Having so many young people in one place is a grace and an opportunity to build this culture of vocation promotion.“

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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