San Paolo (Brazil). From 28 to 30 August, at the Padre Vitor Coelho de Almeida Events Center in Aparecida, São Paulo, the National Meeting of the Rede Salesiana Brasil (Brazilian Salesian Network) RSB took place on the theme “Where are the young people? – «Come and see» – In the sacrament of presence, the Salesian secret to educate and evangelize”. The meeting had as its main objective, “Identify and interpret the scenarios and current youth appeals to strengthen the Salesian identity,” in order to deepen the understanding of the Salesian charism in the presence and actions of the RSB.

More than 400 representatives of the ten Provinces of the Salesians of Don Bosco and of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) participated in these three intense days of reflection, prayer, sharing, and proposals: Provincials, men and women Directors of RSB, Provincial Coordinators of Social Action, Communication, and Salesian Schools, and Coordinators of the National Commission for Youth Ministry.

The first day, “Where are the young people?” began with the Eucharistic Celebration at the national Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida, presided over by Msgr. Nelson Francelino Ferreira, Bishop of Valença (RJ), Former President of the Episcopal Commission for Youth Ministry of the Brazil Episcopal Conference (CNBB), and concelebrated by the priests present.

The video message sent by the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, was then broadcast at the Events Center. She congratulated the Brazilian Salesian Network for the initiative. Fr. Miguel Ángel García, General Councilor for SDB Youth Ministry, also greeted the participants on behalf of the Rector Major.

Fr. Natale Vitali Forti, SDB, and Sr. Alaíde Deretti, FMA, Youth ministry referents at the national level, expressed their joy at this meeting in presence which allowed many representatives of schools, social works, university centers, parishes, and Salesian communities from all over Brazil to gather to reflect on young people. The event was also attended by Fr. Wagner Ferreira da Silva, President of the Canção Nova Community, one of the Groups of the Salesian Family in Brazil.

The participants followed an articulated program which began with interventions aimed at deepening their knowledge of youth realities from the social and political point of view of the Catholic Church and Salesian Youth Ministry at an international level.

At the end of the first day, they enjoyed the Clarin Dance Company show. With thought provoking and very well performed choreography, the young dancers addressed relevant youth issues such as prejudice, racism, violence, violence against women, anorexia, homophobia, and sexual exploitation.

The work continued on the second day of the “Come and see” event with reflections on networking held by the President of RSB, Sister Teresinha Ambrosim, and by the Vice-President, Fr. Ricardo Carlos, with a round table on Salesian Youth Ministry, led by the National Youth Coordinators, Fr. José Ricardo Mole and Sr. Nádia Caetano, and with workshops on some of the most urgent issues for the country’s young people. “Gender identity, diversity and inclusion a current priority”; “Living in social networks: towards a full presence”; “The honest citizen: social and political participation for the common good”; “Everything is interconnected: the care of common home” were the four workshops proposed.

The third day, “In the sacrament of presence, the Salesian secret of education and evangelization” was dedicated to the concrete proposals put forward by the Provinces and to the approval of the Youth Manifesto, a document elaborated on the basis of the contributions of the participants during the encounter.

The Manifesto presents 12 commitments which include listening attentively to young people, encouraging youth protagonism, building bridges, and strengthening action in defense of life and young people who suffer violence.

The RSB also reaffirmed its commitment to remain open “to all types of young people, understanding changing contexts” and to support the Salesian presences “in their process of being institutions that welcome the cry of humanization that arises from young people”.

The Youth Manifesto concludes by telling them, “We are here for you and with you. We want to help you discover the best in yourself, to grow in all dimensions of your life, and to build a world in which everyone can live with dignity and love: ‘For you I study, for you I work, I am ready to give my life for you until my last breath’ (Don Bosco)”.

The Brazilian Salesian Network has expressed its gratitude to all the teams who worked “like leaven” behind the scenes of the National Meeting, a major event dedicated to strengthening the Salesian mission in Brazil.

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