Rome (Italy). With the commitment to listening to young people, undertaken for the six-year period 2022-2027, the Youth Ministry Sector of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians has organized online meetings on the theme “Young people, you are the now of God” addressed to the Provincial Coordinators, Youth Ministry teams, and the young people of the Interprovincial Conferences.
Pope Francis at the WYD in Panama, recalling the Gospel passage from Luke (Lk 4:20-21), said to the young people, “Jesus reveals the now of God who comes to meet us to call us as well to participate in His today to bring the Good News to the poor, liberation to prisoners, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and to proclaim a year of grace in the Lord.” And he exhorted the young people to realize that they are the protagonists of history and of evangelization, telling them “you are not the future but the now of God.”
While the meeting of the CIAO conference had already taken place on 3 june, subsequently those of CIMAC (10 June), of CICSAL (1 July), and of CINAB (8 July) were held.
In the first part of each of the meetings, the General Councilor, Sr. Runita Borja, presented a reflection on “Youth Ministry for life and hope”. She also recalled the options of General Chapter XXIV which directly regard Youth Ministry.
Then by “listening to the young”, their words revealed the great sense of belonging, but above all the path of growth as members of the Salesian Youth Movement. In response to the request to make some proposals for an effective accompaniment of young people by the SYM, they left valid suggestions:
“Listen more to young people, not just by consulting them, but by really including us in decision-making spaces” (Lucia, 21 years old, Uruguay).
“Offer specific spaces for dialogue, for meeting with young people, without focusing too much on group activity. To offer not only theoretical formation, but also moments of prayer that confront young people with their own lives and allow them to evaluate their own choices. It is essential to offer formation aimed at discovering each one’s life project and to encourage discussion spaces that link the activity of the courtyard with the social context which is becoming increasingly challenging (Maria, 31 years old, Argentina).
“Organize regular meetings with families that help strengthen ties with the family nucleus of each young person, since such accompaniment is essential for personal development” (Maria, 19 years old, Colombia).
“Carry out SYM congresses at national and international levels and strengthen the accompaniment of adults who are above all spiritual guides. To make progress in a movement of young people, it is essential to have a good guide” (Ana, 17 years old, Paraguay).
“Take advantage of new technologies, because in today’s world it is important to use digital platforms to establish effective communication channels with young people. This may include the use of social networks, online groups, and mobile applications, always taking into account the protection of privacy and security” (Janisse Noguera, 17, Nicaragua).
“Encourage meaningful moments of prayer that allow for an encounter with God starting from one’s own reality. Take care of spiritual accompaniment to strengthen the journey of faith” (Valentina Salazar, 19 years old, Colombia).
“Encourage volunteering experiences, especially in communities of vulnerable people, to offer spaces for formation in citizenship, leadership, faith, spirituality, and tools that allow having a job and therefore be able to move forward” (Yuliana Velásquez, 28 years old, Colombia).
“Offer workshops that help young people develop their skills and gifts, understand what they are worth, deepen the life of Christians, and above all, to discern their own vocation. This will help them in their integral development and their dreams can be realized like God’s dream in their life” (Tito, 22 years old, Peru).
“Create support networks, foster a safe and trusting environment where young people feel comfortable expressing themselves, sharing concerns, and seeking support. It is also important to establish partnerships, i.e., work side by side with organizations that share the same mission – diocesan or archdiocesan ministries, foundations, NGOs, etc. – on projects that seek sustainable solutions” (Natalia, 25 years old, Colombia).
“Organize more meetings to make young people understand that the SYM is an international movement made up of many other young people like them who share the same dreams, a force capable of bringing about change in society” (Shandira and Enrique, 17 years old, Uruguay).
In their homes all over the world, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians come into contact with many young people who, as in the past and perhaps even more today, are strongly in search of the meaning of life. Great is then the challenge of a Youth Ministry for life and hope: an evangelization project that is not able to enter into dialogue with these great aspirations of young people is in fact doomed to fail.
Therefore, there are two fundamental tasks that every YM project must pursue. The first is to reawaken and support the desire for life and happiness with all possible means. The second is to make accessible and propose the Gospel in and for daily life. Jesus is the only answer to full and authentic happiness.