Youth Night in Boyle Heights

By: Luis Chacon
Province Coordinator for Volunteers

Youth Nights have become a monthly tradition in the Salesian community of Los Angeles. The overall intention is to unify forces among the youth ministries of each of the Salesian presences in Los Angeles. Each month we’ve had Youth Night, where members of the Confirmation program from Saint Mary’s, Saint Isabel, and young leaders from the Salesian Family Youth Center gather to learn, pray, and socialize.

On November 11th St. Isabel hosted our third Youth Night which we decided to focus on gratitude since Thanksgiving was approaching. The objective of these monthly activities is to create the Salesian Youth Movement of Boyle Heights, therefore, the youth leaders who executed Youth Night are the same young people who belong to the Confirmation Program or the club’s Leadership Program.

We started our Youth Night at 6:30 pm where the Core Team (made up of youth leaders) welcomed the Youth Night participants with a beautiful welcome sign, a gratitude tree, and other decorations. After an icebreaker, Rachel Silva (coordinator of the Saint Isabel Confirmation Program) welcomed the young people and communicated the boundaries and expectations for the night. Delilah started the event with a beautiful opening prayer.

Everyone was taken outside where Noelia led an icebreaker. Participants were partnered up and asked to introduce themselves. A question was asked out loud and participants switched partners after each question.

Following this, I led the talk based on the night’s theme. I invited the young people to recognize that everything in this life is a gift, and to be able to see all the gifts we have it is important to stop, breathe, reflect, give thanks, and continue. I also invited them to be thankful for themselves, to be good and patient with themselves, and to be grateful for all the things we like and don’t like about ourselves. After my short reflection, participants were asked to write down those things they liked and did not like about themselves on a piece of paper. This paper was kept private, and they took it home with them. 

Noelia led a gratitude Tree Activity. Participants received a colored leaf in which they were asked to draw or write the name of a person in their life that they are grateful for; one possession; and one opportunity they have that they are grateful for. They then wrote a prayer thanking God for these blessings in their life and posted their leaf on the gratitude tree. The next activity was a song association game led by Bridget Nunez who organized 6 different teams to compete in coming up with as many songs as they could containing a specific word. The winning team was the first to be excused to get their snacks at the end of the night.

At the end of the night, Arleth and Yair passed out battery-operated tea light candles with a scripture verse. The candles were a representation of the gratitude each one of us have for the blessings of this past year. Fr. Marcos Castillo gave a brief explanation during his goodnight asking everyone to place the candles on their dinner table during their Thanksgiving. He then gave a special blessing to all their candles. Our next Youth Night will be a traditional Posada. We count on your prayers to continue working for the youth of Boyle Heights!