Szczecin (Poland). The 19th General Assembly of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) of Europe and the Middle East was held from 24 to 26 November 2023 in Szczecin, at St Joseph’s House of the Salesians in Don Bosco. The meeting was attended by about 70 young people, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and Salesians of Don Bosco from 15 European countries.
The Annual Assembly is conceived as a moment of formation for the SYM animators, to strengthen the bonds between the members, to share the good practices of the different countries, to evaluate the dynamics of the Movement, and to plan the future.
“A Dream for us” was the theme, with the aim of preparing young people to celebrate the bicentenary of the “Dream at 9 years old” of Johnny Bosco (1824-2024) and the SYM Youth Synod h, to be held in 2024 in Turin-Valdocco and Colle Don Bosco, with the participation of young people from around the world.
The formative moment was animated by Fr. Michael Pace, SDB, Vice Director of the Museum Don Bosco House of Valdocco. He deepened the theme through three charismatic dreams of Don Bosco: “the dream at nine years of age”, he had at Becchi in 1824; “the field of dreams”, in 1844; and the “the missionary dream”, in Barcelona in 1886.
Three dreams, three calls: Fr. Mike explained that the three dreams communicate three calls to conversion, each of which is based on the previous one and takes it to a deeper level. The Dream at Nine years contains a call to personal and spiritual maturity, a founding call: Jesus calls John to mature as a man. Without human maturity there is little chance of an authentic journey of faith or of active and intentional participation in the Church’s mission, he stressed.
The Field of Dreams presents the call to build the community; the call moves from the personal to the relational level. The community of the Oratory lays the foundations for the process of pastoral care that will mature in the Oratory as home, school, church, and courtyard, lived in the family spirit.
The missionary Dream culminates in the call to responsible service without frontiers. The call is vocational and ecclesial, as it presents a concrete way of offering a responsible service to others, overcoming cultural and geographical boundaries, “to the ends of the earth” in the name of Jesus, to build a truly missionary family, around Gospel values. The freedom to offer one’s life in responsible service to others grows in the awareness of what one has received by the grace of God. “Free of charge you have received, free of charge give” (Mt 10:8).
These three calls lead from a basic human and spiritual maturation to a free and intentional participation in the life of the Church, to the evangelical way of transforming the world. The trajectory of the arch that unites the three dreams embraces not only the life of Don Bosco, but also that of every member of the Salesian Family.
During the meeting, the “Small Team” of SYM Europe and the Middle East also took stock of the situation of the Movement in the continent and presented the coordination document of the SYM, which was approved by the participants with some changes to be made. As Pablo of Spain and Marta of Croatia finished their term, the Assembly elected Ines Maria of Portugal and Jeremy of Malta to replace them.
The celebration of the Eucharist, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, several moments of prayer, were fundamental in the encounter with the Lord as a SYM community. The fraternal sharing of meals, the group dynamics, the night out in the city, and other informal meetings also fostered mutual friendship and family spirit. The participants left for their respective Countries with greater commitment and desire to make the Dream of Don Bosco live now through the dreams of today’s young people.
The 20th General Assembly of SYM Europe and the Middle East will be held in Germany in 2024.