Youth Ministry Recap February 2023

Written By Gina Robles and Marisol Becerra

Spirit Team Retreat St. Joseph’s 

The Spirit Team Retreat took place from February 3rd to February 5th. The first day of the retreat was focused on going over the SYLC theme for this year based on the Strenna, “Rise, Be Leaven for the World Today.” The team reflected on God’s call in leading them to be a part of the spirit team. The first session for the second day was focused on learning each other’s strengths to work better as a team in different capacities. The second session was on meditating on the pillars of Salesian Spirituality. After this session, the spirit team had an opportunity to journal and reflect. In the afternoon, the team gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year with a special dinner and celebration. During the last day of the retreat, all gathered to celebrate mass and the retreat concluded with an evaluation and closing session. 

CYM Meeting

On February 7th, there was a Coordinator of Youth Ministry meeting to discuss preparations that are currently taking place for Summer Camp 2023 and SYLC 2023. There was also a discussion about the upcoming CYM Retreat from March 10-12th, and everyone had an opportunity to share resources and best practices from each community. 

NFCYM Meeting in Colorado Springs

From Feb 6 to Feb 9th, the annual meeting for the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry known as the “Exchange” took place. The meeting was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This annual meeting is an opportunity for ministers from across the nation to find intentional networking, support, and opportunities for collaboration and prayer with others on the same mission to bring young people to Christ. Victoria Weekley from the Salesian Youth Ministry Office in the East and SDB West represented the Salesians of Don Bosco. It was a great opportunity to share with other youth ministers, our Salesian Spirituality, and how we work collaboratively with our young people in both of our Provinces. During the sessions, there were updated statistics given regarding the trends in youth ministry and how our young people feel about their relationship with God, the church, and themselves. Many of the sessions given were very informative and helped give insight into how to accompany our youth. There were about thirteen breakout sessions offered. Some of the topics were “Youth as Protagonists,” which talked about putting together a youth council in your local community. Also, “Pathways to Professionalism,” aimed to promote and advocate for professionalism and competence in Youth Ministry Leadership. One session that was a particular highlight was, “Gender Identity and Faith: Laying a Foundation for Ministry.” Increasingly as youth ministers, we are being invited into the lives of young people navigating gender identity questions and emerging gender identity labels. Sometimes we feel ill-equipped to accompany our young people and stay silent or reactively respond. This session offered foundational information. It helped me as well as other youth ministers feel how we can more effectively accompany youth who may have questions about gender and the intersection of gender with their Catholic faith. Bishop Joseph A Espaillat celebrated a mass with all of us along with moments of silence, prayer, and adoration. It was a wonderful experience to be able to share these moments with others in ministry. 

Salesian College Preparatory Visitation

The visitation to Salesian College Preparatory took place from February 6th-7th. The visitation was a great opportunity to observe the Salesian works and charism alive and moving. 

World Youth Day Formation Meeting 

The World Youth Day formation meeting took place on February 15th. This formation meeting was led by the young adults at St. Dominic Savio Church in Bellflower, CA. This meeting is one of several monthly meetings that are taking place to prepare for World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal. These meetings are meant to both prepare spiritually and connect with all those attending World Youth Day with the Salesians of Don Bosco USA West.

Religious Education Congress, Anaheim CA

The Religious Education Congress was held from February 24th-26th at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Social Communications Department of the province had two booths that had components of Salesian education experts, prayer, and various resources. The youth ministry office assisted along with education, vocation, and volunteer commissions of the province in working at the booth and communicating with the congress participants about the Salesian Charism and the various Salesian works. Offering information about our schools, parishes, camps, youth centers, and the Salesian preventive system. It was an excellent opportunity to collaborate with the different departments in the Salesian province. Many participants came to offer prayer intentions to our Lady Help of Christians in our booth. It was great to connect with all who came to the booth, many were past alumni, and some were catechists looking for resources to do youth ministry with their young people. This congress had one of the highest attendance rates compared to previous years.