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Family centred Oratory in Macau and Madrid World Congress

By Our Own Correspondent

Macau - Madrid - Rome, 13 June 2018 -- The Acts of the World Congress on Salesian Family Ministry are being published and studied in these days, also the English version (160 pages) is already available on the internet. Reading the Acts from the EAO point of view we need to ponder especially the two following 'conclusions discerned by the 20+ delegates from our Region in the 2017 (Nov 27-Dec 1) Madrid event:

What are the challenges that result from the journey that the Congregation in the EAO provinces?

  • MINIMAL CONTACT WITH FAMILIES. As Salesians, we see that when we do our work, it is always a direct contact with the young people. We seldom deal directly with the families of our young people and thus we lack the awareness of the reality of their families. The parents are also busy.

  • DISTANCE. One specific situation may also be shared by many others: in Papua New Guinea-geographical distance of the young from the families and thus, the distance of the Salesians also from the families such that family ministry would be difficult to practice. There is also the cultural distance of the Salesians from the families of the young since many of the Salesians are missionaries and therefore can be out of touch with the context of the family. The parents also entrust their children to the Salesians that they do not anymore mind how their sons are. There is little collaboration.

  • WHEN TO BECOME A PROPHET. There is also the challenge to strike the balance between being tolerant and being a prophet. When do we correct what is wrong?

  • TO MOVE FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE. We have a lot of ideas about families from the documents of the Church and the Congregation. Are all these practicable?

  • DESIRE OF THE YOUNG TO STAY MORE IN THE SCHOOL (OR WITH FRIENDS) RATHER THAN AT HOME. Many times, the home becomes the place in which the young people like staying the least. They prefer the school and friends.

  • THE HETEROGENEITY OF FAMILIES. Do we define "family" in the same way? There are different concepts around the world. We have to be clear about our definitions of "family." As a Congregation, we cannot dictate what the nature of family should be. In family ministry, we have to bring the charismatic heritage to each local setting. One help would be: how does one feel about his/ her own family?

What are the main indicators to the future of Family ministry in our Region?

  • The provinces need to have paradigm-shift particularly in involving the families as active subjects in the youth ministry of the province.

  • The provinces need to strengthen the existing EPC in the education of the young people.

  • In carrying out the family ministry, we need to prepare personnels in the area of counseling in order to have a better accompaniment of the families and young people.

  • There is a need to have synergy with other groups or sectors or professionals in carrying out the family ministry.

  • The family model being presented in the ministry most of the time is for christian family, which most of the time is not so ideal in non-Christian context.

  • At times some Salesians might think that ministering to the families is the task of the parish priest. Hence, in the province, the family ministry do not recieve much attention in the SEPP of the province.

  • Some families in the post-conflict countries are still fragile. The struggle for survival is more important than the education of their children. Therefore, it is difficult to involve families in the youth ministry of the province.

At the end of the Madrid Congress our EAO delegates suggest to the provinces the following strategies how to foster the family ministry:

  1. To get the parents to be part of our Youth Ministry in pastoral planning and in the accompaniment of our young people.

  2. To focus on Youth Vocation Ministry in our work with young people, keeping in mind that an essential task of Youth Ministry and Family is for the young to discover their vocation.

  3. To include in the formation of Salesians a basic training on how to work with the families of young people.

  4. To rethink our structures (timetable and spaces) and paradigms in order to facilitate working with families.

  5. To embrace Family Ministry as an integral part of Youth Ministry, as a new frontier in all the Provinces, re-echoing the fruits of the Congress on Youth Ministry and Family.

One of the Good Practices introduced in the Madrid Congress was the parents Oratory (Macau - China). Six months after the International Family Ministry Congress this innovative kind of Youth Ministry (Fr. Savio Yeung in charge) was solemnly blessed by the outgoing provincial of CIN, Fr. Lanfranco Fedrigotti on May 25 with a large participation of local education authorities, our lay mission partners, volunteers and about 200 parents with their children gathered for the occasion.

We wish that the Madrid International Congress will bring more concrete fruits and attention to the family in each of the 250 Salesian communities of our Region!

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