Italy. On 8 and 9 October 2022, a Youth Ministry Seminar was held simultaneously in the 7 Provinces of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians on the theme, “Every educational environment is vocational”, organized by the National Commission for Youth Ministry with the aim of experiencing transformative ministry planning as a ‘method’, around vocational ministry as a ‘content’.
The Salesian mission, dedicated to accompanying young people so that they may be honest citizens, good Christians, and someday worthy inhabitants of heaven, passes in fact through the capacity of educational environments to be vocational places, which raise questions and accompany them in finding answers.
The two days of workshop were held in the individual Provinces, with the presence of the FMA, some young people, and lay people, guided by a common module prepared by the National Commission of YM.
The work began on Saturday afternoon, with the online intervention on transformative planning offered by Fr. Michal Vojtaš, a Salesian of Don Bosco, Professor of Salesian Pedagogy and the Preventive System at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) in Rome. Fr. Michal is also the director of the Don Bosco Study Center of the same University; therefore, his research area is concentrated around the history, updating, and organizational-formative aspects of Salesian education.
Transformative Ministry is a new way of planning Ministry, more in line with evangelical logic. In fact, Fr. Michal explains, “The logic of the Gospels does not align with the logic of planning by objectives. In the beginning, the apostles did not have a project, but simply responded to a vocation that determines their identity as disciples. Subsequently, they enter into Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of heaven and thus the process of participation in His mission begins. They are not the masters of the vision-mission, but His servants. The concrete product of their apostolate was not foreseen from the beginning, and too much concreteness of the objectives was more a cause of conflict than of operational convergence.”
Formation continued on Sunday 9, with an in-depth study at the provincial level, of the new document entitled: “To light the stars. Guidelines for a Synodal Missionary Vocation Youth Ministry”, the result of the long work of the enlarged National Pastoral Commission, which wanted to allow itself to be challenged by the suggestive provocations of the Synod on young people and the resulting texts, to re-read the local vocational ministry paths and respond in a new way to the needs and accompaniment of young people.
The title of the text is inspired by the Post-Synod Apostolic Exhortation ‘Christus Vivit’ (CV 33):
The Lord calls us to light stars in the night of other young people. He invites us to look at the true stars, those very diversified signs that He gives us so that we will not remain still, but imitate the Sower who observed the stars in order to plow the field. God lights stars for us so that we can keep walking. “The stars shone in their guard posts and they rejoiced; He called them and they answered” (Bar 3: 34-35). But Christ himself is for us the great light of hope and guide in our night, because He is “the bright morning star” (Rev 22:16).
As stated in the introduction to the Guidelines, the aim of this work is to delineate more clearly the features of the Youth Ministry of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from a vocational, missionary, and synodal perspective, in order to encourage an ever-greater aware assumption in all educational environments.
The methodology tested during the elaboration of the text had two directions: the transformative pastoral ministry, proposed by Fr. Vojtaš; the synodal methodology of recognizing, interpreting, choosing that are the passages through which the entire text unfolds.
With this in mind, the participants in the Seminar passed from theory to practice, from listening to methodology, to putting it into practice, with a clear working plan, to which the varied experience of the components of the groups and the solicitations of the YM Guidelines: a formula of listening and of dialogue to work towards the construction of a common vision, starting with the title of the day.