Santo Domingo (Dominican Rep.). From 24 to 31 January 2021, the Youth Week was held online, organized by the Youth Pastoral Commissions of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians – St. Joseph Province (ANT) – and the Salesians of Don Bosco, with the participation of more than 130 young people, FMA, SDB, Salesian Cooperators (SSCC) from the Salesian realities of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, who prepared themselves together for the Feast of Don Bosco.
In the Dominican Republic, National Youth Day is celebrated nationally on January 31, in honor of St. John Bosco, with various initiatives in favor of young people. Generally, FMA and SDB organize the Festival in a park in the city of Santo Domingo, but due to the Covid 19 pandemic, they decided to organize a whole week online.
Following the theme: Moved by hope, let’s get in touch with Don Bosco, every day starting at 20:00, through Zoom and Facebook Live, young people, FMA, SDB, SSCC met together to live the week with the objectives of: strengthening the Salesian charismatic identity through the study of Strenna 2021 of the Rector Major; sharing the joy of belonging to the Salesian Family and the experiences related to Salesian Youth Spirituality; pray together the Novena to Don Bosco, concluding with the Salesian Good Night.
For the preparation of the various activities, the Oratory Youth Centers, Associations, Schools, and the University Pastoral Care of the FMA and SDB realities were involved and by alternating, offered moments of welcome, games, songs, interactive dynamics, Salesian videos, reflection groups, and formative spaces on the life of Don Bosco.
Among the significant activities, also carried out with the help of web applications, there were: the choice of Don Bosco’s phrases through a ‘virtual wheel’, with sharing of Salesian experiences related to them; the study of some letters written by Don Bosco and the invitation to young people to write a letter addressed to the Saint; sharing, on their social profile, memories linked to Salesian moments lived.
Despite being a virtual meeting, there was no lack of concrete proposals, such as that of making a gesture of solidarity to be “good Christians and honest citizens” in responsible service to society and the environment in which one lives, or the invitation for a gesture of taking care of our common home, such as planting a tree, tending the house garden, and paying more attention to recycling.
On one of the evenings, a space for prayer was also created called “Salt and Light”, in which everyone lit a candle and meditated on the journey of following Jesus, letting themselves be enlightened by His life and His message, to be light for others as Don Bosco was.
The entire initiative was communicated on social networks through the Novena posts, with a prayer and small episodes from the life of Don Bosco, prepared by the young people and shared through the Instagram accounts of the FMA and SDB Pastoral, together with notices to live every day well. The participation of the FMA Communities connected in streaming, which accompanied and supported the young people, was significant. Sr. Basilia Ramírez, Provincial ANT, participated in all of the days with the opening message and the Good Night, in which the SDB Provincial, other FMA and SDB, and young people from different realities also took turns.
Youth Week 2021, created in an unprecedented way, made it clear that the Salesian Charism knows how to enter the heart of reality where, as the Rector Major recalls in the Strenna, we are called to be a source of light that radiates hope, with the trust of Don Bosco: “Faced with this harsh and painful reality, we continue to express our certainty that hope moves us because God in His Spirit continues to make all things new”.