By: Luis Chacon
At the Salesian Family Youth Center, we know of the great gift that the Holy Spirit has given us in the Salesian charism through Don Bosco. We recognize that we will never finish discovering Don Bosco and that his educational system can change the world. With this in mind, several members of the SFYC (Administration, Youth Program, and SHOUT) were present at the Salesian 101 Session 3.
We began our formation meeting in Salesian identity with the following prayer of the Salesian creed, “We believe that no young person should be excluded from our hope or any activity.” This prayer was encouraged by Salesian cooperators Judy Alvarez and her husband.
Following this prayer, Fr. Fabian began by inviting us to self-reflect with the following questions, “Where is the Spirit leading us? How far are we going to go? By always thinking with and for the young people, where is the Spirit calling us?” Fr. Fabian reminded us of the first meeting of Salesian 101, in which Fr. Roche spoke to us about our origins, about Don Bosco as a model of following Jesus “The Good Shepherd.”
It is necessary to reflect and evaluate our actions during these historical moments of the pandemic; today, we must “read the signs of the times.” Fr. Fabian emphasized the meaning of “aggiornamento,” an Italian word related to the ability to adapt to new situations and respond to them promptly. As a Salesian family, our mission is to be carried out with kindness and affection, with Saint Francis de Sales as our model.
The Salesian Family acts with optimism and hope, and that’s why we’re a family of dreamers through the inspiration of the Spirit. We are followers of Jesus, and we walk in the footsteps of Don Bosco. Don Bosco, the Salesian charism, is a gift from the Spirit, so we must be responsible for this gift, cultivate it and share it.
Fr. Fabian reminded us of the Strenna from Fr. Angel and emphasized the culture of openness and encounter. In recent months, young people have risen against violence and advocated for the protection of minorities. As educators, how can we respond in all these situations? Young people are setting an example for us to be open to others and promoting a culture of encounter.
The only way to promote the encounter is through true dialogue. True dialogue is one that is open, organized, and purposeful. This type of dialogue allows a discussion that inspires, supports, and promotes confidence. It should be organized to encourage everyone’s participation and include everyone’s point of view. Intentional dialogue can inspire young people to be leaders and allow them to make decisions in their lives and society. Purposeful dialogue engages young people in the mission and promotes action, which aligns with our effort as Salesians and educators to have the young as protagonists.
Afterward, Fr Fabian asked us two questions that invited us to take action through reflection, “What are your young people’s top 2 needs? Do you feel we are meeting those needs?” In small groups, we had the opportunity to meet different Salesian Family members and share our experiences and reflections.
After this activity, Sister Sydney led the moment of reflection and a group activity. This was a productive exercise that led to several contributions from the various small groups.
The following are needs that we discovered:
- Being fragile, being alone, and a lack of confidence in themselves. The youth need more encouragement.
- How can we help young people not to feel so sorry?
- Young people have a need for contact.
- The young need to feel a sense of belonging, make a difference, access someone to talk to, and feel validated. The young need someone to advise them and to have a clear direction and exaltation of the truth. They need human connection to feel that they are needed and accepted. With our Salesian charism, the young need to feel loved and to be protagonists.
How do we respond to these needs?
- By adjusting to new needs, such as increasing zoom communication and by continually asking the young how their life is going.
- We can help them by allowing them to be someone and to interact with other people while respecting a healthy distance. Currently, some Salesian Family members have been sending rosaries by mail and inviting the young to pray the rosary interactively.
- The province is offering spaces for young people through various means.
In the Group Activity, we refer to the identified groups’ needs and propose new ideas to help the young people.
Sister Sydney invited us to remember that we belong to a family of dreamers. Our ministry needs to be open, organized, and intentional. Everything we do needs to include young people in the planning and execution—the young need to be the protagonists.
When will the event be and how often?
- Peer-to-peer support group. Province service project with all the youth from our province.
- Promotion of neighborhood block youth activities with our leaders.
- Zoom-Pen-Pals (promoting meetings among young people around the world)
- Celebration of the “possibility of encounter.”
- A Salesian Provincial Talent Show
- Salesian Youth of the Year
- Summer Camp new possibility out of COVID
What is the purpose of this event?
- Connect our young people with the world’s reality to have a global understanding and build networking with other Salesians in the world.
- Develop trust and friendship
- A better understanding of who we are as a Salesians in the world
- To accept and to be accepted.
- To accompany each other.
At the end of the meeting, we shared our feelings on being the children of a dreamer and how valuable the Strenna of the Rector Major is for our Salesian family today. The Strenna invites us to hope and be signs of hope for the world.
Some of the conclusions of the participants were:
- Training should be smarter and not necessarily more difficult.
- Working together enables us to dream together and make those dreams come true.
In concluding the meeting, Gina Robles invited us to continue being signs of hope. She encouraged us to be present at the next Salesion 101 meeting and the upcoming Religious Education Congress. We ended our formation meeting with a beautiful prayer led by Judy Alvarez.