(Africa and Madagascar). On 10 March 2022, the online meeting of the General Councilor for Youth Ministry of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Runita Borja, was held with the Youth Ministry Coordinators of the CIAM Interprovincial Conference of Africa and Madagascar.
The meeting was attended by Sr. Chantal Mukase, Visiting Councilor referent for Africa, and Sr. Natalia Miguel, Superior of the Preprovince Queen of Peace of Angola (ANG), referent for the coordination of the YM CIAM. Also present were Sr. Elena Rastello and Sr. Ana Victoria Ulate, collaborators of the Sector.
After the prayer, in which the gift of peace was invoked for Ukraine and other parts of the world tried by conflicts, Sr. Runita Borja gave a reflection on the theme, “The 24th General Chapter in the perspective of youth ministry”.
With the words of Mother Chiara Cazzuola in the Presentation of the Acts of GC24, Sr. Runita reminded the CIAM Coordinators that, “The XXIV General Chapter is not over; now the story of each FMA continues, of all the Educating Communities, in the places in which we share life and mission together with young people and lay people. It will truly be realized and bear fruit if we are docile to listening to God, to His Word, to reality, to people, ready to do ‘Everything He tells us to do.’ Only in this way will Jesus be able to continue transforming the water of our existence into new and good wine, giving us the courage to be people and communities that generate life, to face the challenges we will encounter, and to implement the choices we have indicated”.
Drawing on her Chapter experience, Sr. Runita also shared some ideas for YM along the lines of: synodality; discernment; at the service of life; and keep hope alive. In particular, she focused on the importance of collaborating with the Educating Communities (CE) despite the differences, “united by the common mission of providing an integral education, so that children, adolescents, and young people can discover the meaning and beauty of life and living according to a purpose” and on the preferential option for the poorest, expressed in the Priority Choices of GC24. She therefore encouraged the YM Coordinators to have a more inclusive pastoral care, which creates alliances and networks, which takes into account a global vision.
During the meeting, the Coordinators shared the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Foundation of the FMA Institute in the various Provinces, especially the initiatives aimed at young people. In general, they are aimed at making Mother Mazzarello known to the young people and to the ECs, so that her life as a young woman and educator can speak to them in different contexts and experiences. For the FMA Communities, the reflections on the life and spirituality of the Co-foundress aim instead at awakening apostolic zeal and the commitment of creative fidelity in making the Salesian charism known in Africa.
The participants also shared some reflections on how the experience of the war in Ukraine and in other parts of the world is lived in different contexts. Among the topics addressed: educating future generations for peace, educating for peace in the family.
The last point taken into consideration concerned enrollment in the Action Platform of Laudato si’. The Councilor and the Collaborators of the YM sector made themselves available to answer questions about this initiative and about integral ecology in general.
In order to be at the service of life and keep hope alive, the CIAM Coordinators re-appropriated the Chapter reflection on the importance of recovering the category of presence, assumed by Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello and consigned to the Salesian Family. The sharing and formation experience of the online meeting thus becomes a stimulus to network, to continue to give a Salesian charismatic response to young people in Africa. As an African proverb suggests, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others”.