Rome (Italy). On 11 January 2022, the first online meeting of the General Councilor for Youth Ministry, Sr. Runita Borja and some collaborators of the Sector, took place with the Provincial Coordinators of YM present at the XXIV General Chapter.
During the experience lived in Rome from 17 September to 24 October 2021, albeit informally, among the 18 Capitulars who have the role of Youth Ministry Coordinators in the Provinces, cordial listening to each other and a dialogue to find common pastoral guidelines in line with the Chapter vision, the need had arisen to give continuity to the reflection with periodic online meetings.
The meeting was introduced by each one’s sharing of the transmission process of GCXXIV in their own Provinces. In general, attitudes of openness and welcome, attentive and joyful participation, gratitude and encouragement on the part of the FMA Communities and Educating Communities were highlighted. The experience of grace and personal transformation lived by the Chapter members has become a sign of hope, unity, and communion, especially in the community and provincial realities most affected by the pandemic and its consequences.
The second part of the sharing focused on identifying some guidelines of animation of Youth Ministry according to what emerged from the XXIV General Chapter.
The participants expressed various proposals for the six-year journey, taking into account the pastoral reality of the Institute, the chapter works, the service of coordination and provincial animation within a holistic process that unifies “living and working together” (FMA Constitutions no. 49). A guideline of animation has been proposed at various levels, in particular with the pastoral coordination teams of the provinces; a guideline relating to formation, with the accompaniment of the FMA and lay YM Coordinators, valuing the young people with their richness; a guideline that privileges presence, encounter, educational accompaniment that evangelizes and proclaims the Gospel.
There also emerged the need for greater co-responsibility, coordination, communion, and synodality between areas, with the heart of Mary, who has a vision of the whole, without neglecting the details. In the current scenario, in fact, it becomes necessary to read the concrete situations thoroughly, recognize the challenges, even the hidden ones, collect the sometimes-unspoken laments.
An in-depth study of the three priority choices of the GCXXIV: Lifelong Formation, Missionary Synodality, Integral Ecology, and of the Chapter Deliberation, is perceived as urgent in the pastoral sphere. The participants underlined the need to re-read pastoral experience and practice for a revision of the “Guidelines for the educational mission of the FMA” (LOME) that are more in keeping with today’s social and ecclesial situation, towards a pastoral action which through profound and responsible listening to concrete experience, guide and accompany the young people to the encounter with the Lord Jesus, source of life and Lord of history.
The Chapter Deliberation requires the daring to abandon the schemes, structures, self-referentiality, concern about losing some certainties, to listen and respond with the young people of the Salesian Youth Movement, “to the cry of the young, the poor, and the earth”, with creative fidelity to the Charism, enhancing the richness of intergenerational, intercultural, inter-congregational, and inter-religious dialogue. Furthermore, in the heart of contemporaneity in which the digital is an expression of this time, the FMA are called to rethink with the Educating Communities, the mission, structures, proposals, places to be privileged.
The concluding words of Sr. Runita Borja are of encouragement to continue with constancy the process of pastoral conversion underway in this worldwide network, which is a workshop of synodality:
“Being humble in the search will allow us to enrich ourselves in the process that will take place together: reflection, dreams, desires, every step, will enrich the journey made together. It will be necessary to ‘remain’ in the questions, keep them in the heart, to grasp ‘God passing by in the gentle breeze’. The joy and life experienced during GCXXIV must arouse hope and desire for the fullness of life also in the Provincial Communities. May the peoples of the world who suffer with resilience be an encouragement to all. It is a resilience founded on hope, because we walk with Jesus”.