Naples (Italy). On 3 January 2021, the young people of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) Southern Italy, led by the Councilor for Youth Ministry of the Province of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Our Lady of Good Counsel (IMR), Sr. Giuliana Luongo, and by Fr. Gianpaolo Roma, Salesian of Don Bosco, Delegate of YM of the Southern Province (IME), experienced the first online Animators Meeting.
The meeting, which saw the participation of 320 animators from the Salesian FMA and SDB houses present from southern Italy and Albania, began with a moment of prayer and with the greeting of the IMR Provincial, Sr. Mara Tagliaferri. Afterwards, some young people talked about the commitment of animators in this unprecedented time of the Covid-19 pandemic, which required them to reinvent their service and find new ways to be close.
From the testimonies it emerged how God, Don Bosco, and Mother Mazzarello marked and changed their lives:
David, of the oratory of Potenza, illustrated the online activities with which they involved the children of his environment during the pandemic, allowing them to share, meet, and discuss despite the lockdown and social distancing.
Paola, animator of Caserta, brought her experience regarding one of the initiatives of her oratory: some animators went shopping and made home deliveries for those most fragile and at risk of contagion.
Anna Paola, coordinator of the Council of Campania and Basilicata, testified how much SYM has changed her life, helping her in social relations and to understand that the best choice is to work with generosity where one is.
Marta, animator at the oratory of Brindisi and recent graduate in Educational Sciences, after having participated in the school of globalization, and in particular following the experiences in the Naples Scampia district and in Guatemala, chose to put herself at the service of others, making herself available for the education of the children of the realities of the territory, such as Don Bosco.
Lorenza, an animator of the Ruvo di Puglia oratory, experienced the isolation and distance from her family infected by the coronavirus and, precisely in the particular days of the Christmas holidays, she rediscovered the pleasure of a conversation with God, a God who does not abandon and loves each with an unconditional love. Lorenza also thrilled all the participants with her song, written in this pandemic time starting from her experience.
Tonilda, a young Albanian, together with other animators and young people from her oratory, became a messenger of gratitude to those who, for work and by vocation, came close to those most affected by the virus: they went out to the hospital in Shkoder (Albania) thanking with songs, messages, floral tributes all the health personnel who in recent months have taken care of many sick people.
After the testimonies, the animators divided into working groups, to resume the objectives of the pastoral year and, in the light of the experiences heard, to find concrete ideas for commitment. Finally, the groups outlined the characteristics and virtues of today’s Salesian animator, through the “symptoms” of the characteristic cheerfulness of those who belong to the Salesian Family.
The event ended with a greeting from the IME Provincial, Fr. Angelo Santorsola, and with the presentation of upcoming commitments. For the young people of the SYM of Southern Italy, the Animators’ Meeting is an opportunity for sharing and Salesian joy, which grows and is renewed through these short, but intense events.