by Father Chris Valentino
MUMBAI, JULY 31, 2017: The western region Salesians of Don Bosco, 46 youth ministry delegates and youth animators from Mumbai and Panjim-Konkan gathered for a three-day workshop on "Salesian Identity: Reliving the Charism through the Salesian Youth Movement," at the Don Bosco Matunga Campus from 26-28 July.
Father Glenford Lowe was the host convener, together with the Don Bosco Youth Services [DBYS] Matunga. The three-day programme commenced with an inaugural address by Father Godfrey D'Souza, Salesian Provincial Mumbai who invited the participants "to pass on the legacy of Don Bosco through imparting of Christ-focused values to the young."
Father Savio Silveira, Salesian Vice-Provincial Mumbai, journeyed back into the past, down memory lane to emphasise a determined relook at Don Bosco's focused perspective of Youth Ministry with a clear focus on setting an agenda, a needs-response assessment, objective goals and Don Bosco's peculiarly unique style of journeying with the young. Father Silveira challenged the delegates, saying, "We need to reflect on these key points for our ministry today by recognising and reinitiating Don Bosco's oratorian model as an ideal setting and hub for futuristic youth activity, with sustained processes and holistic formation of the young."
Editor of the world renowned Catholic monthly 'Don Bosco's Madonna' and acclaimed management trainer, Father Ian Doulton then dwelt on 'The Preventive System, Today' starting with an innovatively significant presentation on understanding teenagers in the new millennium, through comprehending the evolution of the 'Teenage Brain.' Clarifying concerns, queries and remarks from the floor, Father Doulton reiterated "the need for a renewed and reworked pedagogy in sync with Don Bosco's original pedagogical style which is a pedagogy of trust, a pedagogy of hope and a pedagogy of alliance!"
The multitalented musician-choreographer Joey Mendonza with his nymphic aides Nellita and Simona then livened up the auditorium with 'lights, music, action, make-up, art, drama, action' providing the Salesians and the young a powerful dose of unbridled enthusiasm, fun and frolic reinforcing the joy and optimism envisaged and propagated by Don Bosco!
Don Bosco South Asia National Coordinator for Groups and Social Experience, Father Robert Simon was the prime animating powerhouse on the penultimate day. Backed with his vast repertoire of accomplished accompaniment of the young at the local, national and global level, all the while drawing pertinent examples of various youth encounters across the globe, Father Simon immediately struck a chord with the eager participants infusing life and zest and arousing them from a sedated slumber to an awakened reperception of the Salesian Youth Movement!
He presented the actual situation of the young in a rapidly evolving world, saying, "The anthropological settings in which our young people live today is a key element in our outreach and accompaniment. Looking at the statistical data collated at the UN and the survey outcomes at the congregational level, we need to ponder on our methodology. What is our involvement, and to what extent does it impact all our activity-oriented settings, is a major question that each youth delegate/animator needs to grapple with," Father Simon said. Clearing the air about ill-informed pre-conceived notions and nullifying narrow assumptions, he reflected on the mandated Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference [SYMFoR], focusing on Leadership and the SYM.
Thereafter, four of the special youth invitees, Marina DCosta, Annie Cardoz, Vivek DSouza and Abishek Thakore ruffled up the delegates with ignited passion whilst narrating their personal life-experiences on the manner in which their lives are interconnected with youth from other nations and youth movements across continents, in their 'grailic' quest for a more sustainable and better world.
Day three was an invite to 'ReThink from the Box', conceived and presented by Father Lowe, famed across the Salesian world as 'a man after the heart of Don Bosco!' A novel, info-educative and revitalising way of understanding the entire SYMFoR, through well-designed boxed cube, Father Lowe presented the Salesian Youth Pedagogy, Salesian Youth Spirituality with the four main thrust dimensions of 'education to faith, education and culture, vocational guidance and social experience', in a delightfully lucid manner. He invited the animators/delegates "to more proactively engage in continuing the dream of Don Bosco, live it in its totality, enthused and animated to be more visible, credible and relevant."
Speaking to BIS Mumbai, Father Simon shared, "The Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) is an umbrella movement made up of an interrelated combination of groups and associations that have some relationship to Don Bosco's pedagogy and spirituality. The main aim of this movement is to promote collegiality among the various groups and accompany the young people to know, understand and share the values of the Salesian Youth Spirituality, inspired by Don Bosco's recommendations for responsible living according to Salesian educational and pastoral principles. We have miles to go!"
Father Bastin Thomas from Jaitala-Nagpur said, "This was such an eye-opener for me. Just imagine that Don Bosco had conceived and lived this in the 1850s! If only, we begin to work at this, like it was presented these days, what a revolution it will be." Father Constantine Fernandes from Panjim added, "We should have been more of us at this workshop. Being here was like having our hearts aflame. I intend to go back and ensure that the fire that has started doesn't die down. Of course, we need to be more relevant and for that we need to walk the talk."
The three-day zonal programme was a typical Salesian of Don Bosco style workshop with football, films and the never-to-be-relinquished 'joie de vivre' in coming together, meeting, sharing and moving on to keep journeying with the young.