ERA (European Rogacionist Association) is a European Christian youth movement founded in 1989 in Italy by Father Gaetano Lo Russo (RCJ). This lay movement is spiritually led by a congregation of Rogacionite Fathers of the Heart of Jesus, followers of the legacy of Saint Anibal Maria di Francia. The goal of both the Congregation and our Association is to help young people in their search for their vocation. Where is the Lord calling me? Where is my place in the Church, in the world?
Today ERA is active in 5 European countries – Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Regarding the history of ERA in the Czech Republic (ERA CZ): we met the Rogacionist Fathers and ERA in general in the summer of 1995, when we “blindly” (we were three brave ones) went to an ERA Meeting in Blahova near Bratislava (Slovakia), which we learned about from a newspaper advertisement. This Meeting was for me personally a place of a certain spiritual conversion – I felt and saw that the young people, who were not really in our churches at that time, loved and were loved by Christ. This great joy stirred in me and in others the need for us to do something for others, especially for the young. From that moment on, our collaboration with the Congregation, especially with P. Gaetano and with ERA in Italy, began. During the next three years we regularly participated in ERA Meetings and larger ERA events, but there was still a lack of systematic and regular work with our Czech youth. This period I sometimes refer to with exaggeration as “the period of guerrilla warfare”.
In 1998 at the Meeting in Tata (Hungary) an important step was taken – the 1st President (Jan Maštálka) and the ERA CZ leadership was elected. On that day we ” stepped out of anonymity” and gave ourselves a concrete goal (following the example of the youth from Italy): to work with the youth on a daily basis and to help them to find their own vocation – Lord, where will I be happy? Where do I belong? Where will I be the right instrument of God? Out of this desire, the first ever ERA Fraternity was founded in the Czech Republic at the end of 2000 – a group of young people who have dedicated their whole lives to this idea. In short, we are trying to help everyone, and not least ourselves, to become good workers (as Jesus and Father Anibal prayed) in God’s vineyard. May the Lord bless us and give us strength for this. Last but not least, since the beginning of 2001 we have been publishing the informative periodical ERA Info and in March 2002 we founded the ERA Czech Republic civic association for easier contact with the secular power.
You should now be able to tell for yourself what the letters of the ERA abbreviation stand for: European, active in 5 European countries; Association, movement = a lay association of young Christians; Rogationist = from the Latin Rogate! = Pray! – “The harvest is great, the workers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into His harvest!” (Mt 9:37; Lk 10:2). A European Christian youth movement praying for vocations and accompanying young people on their journey of discovery.