Baucau (East Timor). From 10 to 13 August 2023, in the atmosphere of the World Youth Day in Lisbon, at St. Anthony School of the Salesians of Don Bosco of the Preprovince St. Callisto Caravrio of East Timor (TLS), the Salesian Youth Movement Forum took place on the theme, “Youth as yeast in today’s human family”.

The young participants, animators of the oratories, of Salesian Schools, of Associations, numbered around 600, including the presence of some representatives of the three Dioceses and some members of the Salesian Family Groups, above all Salesian Cooperators, Past Pupils, Salesians of Don Bosco, and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.

Also present were the Delegates for Youth Ministry, Fr. Nelson Gonsalves Soares, SDB and Sr. Julia Fernandes, FMA returning from WYD 2023, together with four young people who brought the testimony of their lived experience.

The Forum opened on the afternoon of August 10 with words of welcome from the Superior of the Preprovince, Fr. Anacleto Pires, SDB and from Sr. Alma Castagna, FMA, Provincial of St. Mary D. Mazzarello Province (TIN) and with the Eucharistic Celebration.

On the first day, the young people were divided into sixteen groups for formation in four thematic areas: catechetical methodology, young people’s identity in a democratic society, Salesian youth protagonism, and Salesian youth spirituality. In the afternoon, the young people had an apostolic experience by visiting the elderly and people in need. This moment was very significant for the young people, who on their return shared the great joy they experienced in having been able to pray with them, lend a hand, and above all encourage and listen. In particular, they took up a part of the apostolic exhortation Christus vivit, on the culture of encounter between young and old, highlighting how many things can be learned from their life and experience.

“The authenticity and integrity of the life and mission of the animators” and “Being yeast in society with a policy for the common good” were the two topics addressed on the following day. The first topic was presented by a couple of Past Pupils, who shared their marital and faith life based on what they learned during their time of formation in the Salesian realities. They then invited the young people to take advantage of the educational proposal offered by the SYM and by the Church, which loves young people and walks with them so that they may be good Christians and honest citizens and grow in their relationship with the Lord. The couple gave witness to the essential elements of Salesian Spirituality:  daily prayer, sacraments, trust in Mary, and visits to the Blessed Sacrament concluding that this experience of faith is the path to holiness and has helped them on the journey of fidelity in marriage and in the education of their children.

The second theme was presented by Fr. Aderito Da Costa, SDB, who accompanied the young people to delve deeply into how to be yeast in society by orienting themselves towards the common good and following the advice on holiness given by Don Bosco to St. Dominic Savio:  do one’s duty well, be cheerful, and do good to others.

In the afternoon, the animators had the opportunity to learn different educational games useful for animation in the oratories. In the evening, there was an intense moment of penitential celebration with the Taizé prayer. The day ended with the Provincial’s Good Night and with the Cultural Festival, in which the participants demonstrated their talents.

On the last day, there was sharing about the experience of WYD in Lisbon, with the vigil-days in the Diocese of Evora and the SYM Day at Estoril, Lisbon. The young SYM representatives: Maria, Alcina, Salvador, and Joanzinho shared their pilgrimage of faith, friendship, joy, and fraternity. From each of them emerged the joy of having been able to live a unique and intense experience of the universal Church and of the Salesian charism, after having overcome so many challenges, including economic ones, and having experienced the Providence of God and the protection of Our Lady (cf. Fundraising Concert).

One of the young people expressed gratitude to God for having been able to participate in a WYD for the first time and for having walked in fraternity with the young people who profess the same faith in the Lord Jesus. After this experience, he decided to welcome the apostolate as animator of the oratory and to help his peers to be courageous on the journey, following the words of Pope Francis’ talk during the Vigil at Parque Teju:

“Walk, and if you fall, get up; walk with a goal; exercise every day in life. In life, nothing is free, everything is paid for. Only one thing is free: the love of Jesus! So, with this free gift that we have – the love of Jesus – and with the desire to walk, let us walk in hope, look to our roots, and move forward without fear. Do not be afraid.”

The other participants also shared their gratitude for having met so many young people of different colors, languages, cultures, but with the same faith and the great desire to hear and see the Holy Father. “The meeting with the Pope was like meeting the person of Jesus. On the day of the Via Crucis, the Pope asked us to open the windows of our soul, to think without fear of our suffering, and to walk with Jesus because He is the way to the Father”, they testified.

This last day of the Forum was an ecclesial moment to all intents and purposes, with the warm welcome of the new Bishop of Baucau, Msgr. Leandro Maria Alves, who for the first time met the young people of the SYM and concelebrated the Eucharist with the Salesians. In his homily, he delved deeply into the theme, giving advice on how to be good yeast for others.

The success of the Forum was seen in the witness of the Charism, in a spirit of synodality, with Salesian joy. In the joy of meeting the Lord in moments of prayer, in the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist, in moments of formation and service, and in the cultural festival the participants had the opportunity to express themselves with their talents and thus enrich the time lived together.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.