Turin (Italy). On 18 January 2023, the “In Cammino” program of the Italian television station TV2000 dedicated space to the catechetical project “E se la fede avesse ragione?” (And if the Faith were right?) which offers young people a path of reflection on different theological core themes, wanted by the Diocese of Turin in collaboration with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Mary Help of Christians Province (IPI) and the Salesians of Don Bosco of the Special Circumscription Piedmont and Valle d’ Aosta.
At the transmission that is a space for storytelling, discussion, and dialogue, to follow the ongoing synodal journey, share the most interesting diocesan experiences, and explore the innovative processes launched by the local Churches, the guests were Fr. Luca Ramello, Director of the Pastoral Office of the Diocese of Turin, present in the studio and, in online connection, Sr. Carmela Busia, FMA Provincial Delegate for Youth Ministry. During the program, some young people recounted their experience from their own point of view, and Fr. Alberto Goia, SDB Youth Ministry Delegate also spoke.
We asked Sr. Carmela Busia a few questions to learn more about the project:
How many years have these meetings been held?
For eleven years: the Year of Faith (2012) launched by Pope Benedict XVI was running and the invitation of the Pope himself was taken up to propose catechesis for young people and therefore not to focus only on Christian initiation.
More or less how many young people participate?
About 400-500 young people on average, sometimes more, sometimes less. They are young university students or workers, some even from the 5year high school, belonging to the various diocesan or Salesian realities, coming from Turin, but also from other centers of Piedmont.
At the beginning we had a 200-seat classroom ready, but that first evening we were very impressed by the participation, so much so that we had to ask to open the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, because there were more than 500 present. Since then, the meeting place hasn’t changed.
What are the goals?
Addressing mainly young university students, along the way it is intended to show the reasonableness of the Christian faith starting from the central nuclei of the catechism. We try to accompany young people to get out of the perspective of dogma as “something that must be accepted without thinking”, to understand the true nature of Christian dogma, as a “road sign” in the search for the Truth. By stimulating young people to know and think about what they believe in, “And if the Faith”, in the form of catechesis, seeks to help understand how the Christian fact affects one’s life, fighting prejudices.
The decision to provide material to “take up at home” – the texts, the podcast, and the video to be viewed are available on the site – is motivated by the nature of this pastoral proposal: “to love God with all one’s mind” is to love in the form of study, of reflection, of the thought that changes life and lets itself be changed by life. Studying is, in fact, a prevalent aspect in the years of university life and therefore a privileged place for a synthesis between faith and life.
How is the course structured?
In recent years, the themes have always had the great themes of faith at the center: the Creed, the deadly sins, the works of mercy, life in the spirit, the Eucharist, love and, for 2022-2023, Mary, precisely because Pope Francis chose Her as a reference for World Youth Day 2023 and we wanted to remain within this great theme of the Church. The title of the meetings is “Here is your Mother” and the subtitle “To be truly free”.
How is each evening designed and built?
The central moment is constituted by catechesis, by the possibility of confessions with many confessors, by Eucharistic adoration, to bring the Word heard in prayer. Before and after the meeting, there is the possibility of meeting to share a pizza, a packed supper or herbal tea for conversing.
A well-sung chant, a talk that intercepts the experience of the world of youth, a welcome prepared in every detail, the fraternity between the Salesian Family and the Diocese, a serious journey made up of meetings and checks for planning, a passionate heart. These are all elements that make the formula ‘winning’, even if it is not the best term.
How young people are involved?
The proposal manages to intercept young people from “different worlds”: there was word of mouth, which causes the Basilica to still fill up today. Some of them are part of the coordination team; they are our “sentinels” with respect to the themes and methods proposed.
Silvia’s testimony: “From this path I expected to find many other young people, who like me were trying to give a slightly deeper meaning to life. What I found wasn’t just an encounter with other young people my age, but it was also a deeper encounter with God. It’s wonderful to be able to be ‘face to face” with God.”
Experiencing this catechesis with young people – concludes Sr. Carmela – is a way to ‘walk with them on the path of holiness’, as our Constitutions say, and to question ourselves with them about their own faith, without feeling they have ever arrived. By sharing with them at the end of the catechesis, the young people offer me reasons to give thanks for the gift of the Salesian charism and for this beautiful vocation.
Website: E se la fede