Abidjan (Ivory Coast). From 29 August to 3 September the International Forum of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) was held at Don Bosco Center in Abidjan. 387 young people came from Benin, Burkina-Faso, Togo, and the Ivory Coast, accompanied by 44 FMA, SDB, Salesian Cooperators, and Don Bosco Volunteers.

This formation meeting was organized by the FMA and SDB Youth Ministry and focused on the theme of Christian Youth in West Africa in the heart of the world, listen to your God. To explore the theme, three sub-themes were proposed: Young people, God speaks to the heart of the world; Listen to God in His creation; Listen to God in our cultures.

During these days the young people had the opportunity to listen to formative content, the testimonies of the young people who live the evangelical values, despite the difficulties they encounter in the world, in group work.

Young people also lived moments of fraternity, sharing songs and traditional dances of different cultural expressions.

The young people were given the opportunity to visit the Yamoussokro Basilica of Houphet Boigny, the first President of the Ivory Coast; the Houphet Boigny National Polytechnical Institute; and the large supermarkets of the city of Abidjan.

The days were spent between times of prayer, Eucharistic celebration, recitation of the Rosary, penitential celebration, and adoration.

Msgr. Raymond Ahoua, Bishop of Grand Bassam of Abidjan, met with the young people on August 30, inviting them to be vigilant, to choose Jesus Christ to face the present reality with its challenges. He stayed with the youth, answering their questions and having lunch with them.

On 2 September he presided at the final celebration in the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Koumassi, Abidjan. In this celebration the young people read the manifesto drawn up at the conclusion of the days of reflection.

The young people who participated expressed themselves in this way: “I find the occasion of the International SYM Forum to be a good opportunity to get to know each other better, build relationships with others, deepen our Christian faith, and better discern our vocation. It has enabled me to live more with Christ, to know better what to do in life as a young man. I understood that the young must have Christ as their reference point. Without Christ, young people cannot face the difficulties of this world. I found interesting the testimony of the young couple who spoke about their marriage experience and this gave me a lot of courage” (Berenger Kanyissoukpe, Togo).

“I am very happy to be part of this forum and I am living it intensely. The activities in which I participated strengthen my faith. There are many teachings and many things I have learned. All this will help me live my faith better, committing myself to follow Christ whatever the difficulties of this world may be. My message to the young people who are not here is: “You have chosen Christ, do not give up” (Ines Agbessi, Benin).


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