Timor East. On 16 and 17 September 2022, at the Don Bosco of Dili Comoro of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Forum of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) was held on the theme: “Do everything for love, nothing by force”, as an invitation to renew oneself and to take seriously the commitment to be educators with and for the young people of the world.
There were about 700 participants: young animators of the oratory, from different youth groups and representatives of the Salesian Parishes accompanied by FMA, SDB, Novices, members of the Salesian Family who came from the communities of the Province of St. Mary D. Mazzarello (TIN) of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and of the Salesians of Don Bosco of the Vice Province of Saint Callisto Caravario (TLS). Some young people from the Diocese also participated, with the desire to form themselves together with the SYM members and live the experience with them in a spirit of synodality.
The Forum opened with Holy Mass, presided over by Fr. Nelson Gonsalves, SDB, Youth Ministry Delegate, and with other SDB concelebrants. At the end, the representative of the SYM of East Timor, Aldo da Costa, presented the program of the days and the Hymn of the SYM, on the Strenna 2022 “Do everything for love, nothing by force”. In the evening, the young people prayed the Rosary for the success of the Forum, for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Francis de Sales, and the 20th anniversary of the SYM in Timor.
The Provincial of the TIN Province, Sr. Alma Castagna, then encouraged the young people to live this beautiful opportunity well, to grow in faith and to discover the root of the Salesian spirituality which has its heart in Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, that is, in seeking God, and living in Salesian joy. The evening ended with the Good night of Fr. Anacleto Pires, Superior of the TLS Vice Province, who invited young people to thank God for the possibility of holding the Forum, which due to the Covid-19 pandemic could not be held for two years. He also invited them to grow in a personal relationship with God, doing everything out of love, because knowing all science has no value without God.
The second day began with the Eucharist presided over by Fr. João Soares, Executive President of the National Commission for Youth in the local Church, who urged the participants to take advantage of the time to be formed, to thank Don Bosco who, with the heart of a father, continues to love and take care of them through the presence of Salesian priests and sisters. He also asked them to be good soil, to make the Word of God grow in the life of each one and bear good fruit in the mission of the Church.
The day continued with formation, first divided into groups to deepen the study of Strenna 2022 and to know the identity and charism of each vocation in the Salesian Family. Second, to understand the importance of the Oratory: a house that welcomes, a parish that evangelizes, a courtyard that creates fraternal relationships, and a school that helps integral growth. It is a place that allows young people to be protagonists in their faith, to create an environment suitable for evangelization, and to live and serve in the spirit of the Salesian family, taking care of children, young people, and creation.
The participants also explored the theme of the World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023, “Mary got up and went in haste”, together with Sr. Alma Castagna, with the aim of preparing to live the event in the universal Church and their own vocation of missionaries among their peers, like Mary. Finally, the document of the Synod of Bishops was presented to them, “For a synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”, to stimulate them to grow in the sense of belonging to the local Church and to participate in the universal mission with an open heart. After the formation, the FMA and SDB listened to the cry of the young people, who were able to present concerns, questions, and hardships that they carry within themselves.
In the afternoon, the penitential celebration took place, which prepared hearts for the feast, with dinner and a cultural night prepared by the young people on the themes of Ecology and Laudato Si’, with the variety of expressions of each community and group: acting, poetry, dances, songs, and different types of presentation.
The ecological aspect was enriched with the presentation of the experiences of recycling and manual creativity in the oratory, in the renewed desire to cultivate the spirit of solidarity and conversion to integral ecology. Furthermore, the young participants, together with SDB and FMA, were responsible for cleaning the rooms of the event before leaving them.
On 18 September, after the evaluation and assumption of the commitments, the Forum concluded with Holy Mass presided over by the SDB Provincial, who left the message to young people to be courageous apostles and missionaries in today’s time, salt and light of the earth, doing “everything for love and nothing by force”, to grow in the love of God.
The presence of all the representatives of the Salesian Family: Salesian Cooperators, FMA and SDB Past Pupils, ADMA, Volunteers of Don Bosco (VDB), other young people, and people who came for the evening and the final Mass, helped to close the event in an explosion of Salesian celebration. The young people expressed the joy of being together through a dance before saying goodbye and returning to their communities.