Many groups adopt some sort of outward sign of membership: it could be a school badge, a football scarf, a wrist band. Salesian Youth Ministry has its Don Bosco scarves, worn as a symbol of family.
Everyone searches to belong in some way, to be at home with others. When we find someone or something we can identify with it becomes part of who we are. When we believe that we belong and are valued, we will proclaim it with joy and conviction alone and as one. This is the Salesian call – family.
Our charism is one of togetherness: a four-pronged spirituality balancing belonging, learning, celebration and faith with, and for, the young. Don Bosco, our founder, began this mission meeting the young on their turf, in the streets, pubs, workplaces and homes. He walked alongside them offering them a spirituality in which they were assured of being loved. I think this is why we have such a strong network of volunteers – they have all known love, the love of Christ, through the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The challenge for us today is to keep meeting young people where they are. Perhaps
young people are harder to find in some ways as they play in the digital playground and Salesians have certainly been moving to meet them there. I, however, find through my own personal experience that young people today respond much better to those experiences of community and belonging than we imagine.
A week of cooking, canoeing, climbing and generally being muddy sounds like a youth activity from the 1980’s. However when we took some young people, aged 15 to 17, on such a week for leadership skills in 2016, we received this email from a 16 year old:
Last week was one of the best in my whole life. I have met fantastic people, learned essential leadership skills and had an opportunity to reflect on what is important for me. It’s been a great week, I’ve never laughed so hard or so much in such great company before. Please give my thanks to [the team] and everyone who made it possible. I hope we will meet again in Savio house or another Salesian community.
Salesian youth ministry continually listens to the voice of the young, to move forward with them towards space for reflection and realisation of the love their God has for them as individuals. Don Bosco played games, stood up to businesses for the rights of the young person and guided young people to sanctity. We, in his footsteps, must always have the end goal in our sight – meeting Christ.
“The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name”