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Cebu model of 'Salesian Youth Assistants'

By Fr. Gino Godinez, SDB

Lourdes Parish, Cebu, Philippines, 10 July 2019 -- The vibrant Salesian parish community of Lourdes (Cebu, FIS province), after an initial period has formally established a model experience of Salesian Youth Assistants (SYA), a group of single young men and women who have spent many years as members and leaders of the Don Bosco Youth Center. They may no longer hold positions of leadership in their respective youth groups and in the Parish Youth Coordinating Council, but they are still willing to serve the young. They are still influential contributors, especially in terms of giving advice, peer-to-peer counseling, and general assistance to various youths, whether a member of a youth group or not. They still serve the young but in a more inclusive and mature way.

The group was formed in September 2018 and since 2019 have elected their officers. The founding of the SYA is not just to offer these former leaders an opportunity to continue their service but also to introduce them to the Salesian Family. By becoming members of the SYA they are included in the Salesian Family as Past Pupils of the DB Youth Center (Delegate Bro. Louie D. Domasian, SDB).

The SYA is still in its initial stage, there is a need for constant accompaniment and formative interventions. One of these interventions is to enable them to understand the Vatican II concept of involving the lay people in the Church's Mission. This move is being re-echoed by the Salesian Congregation at present in that it is seriously asking each Province to involve the laity in the formation of the young. Gone are the days where the Salesians or Consecrated Persons are the only ones forming the young! The laity have to be involved. The laity can also offer rich insights into the life of the young, especially in terms of experiences and insights that the religious do not have. That is why the Salesian Community of Lourdes Shrine has given the official approval to form and found the SYA. In involving the SYA in such an important facet of the Don Bosco’s mission of saving souls, Lourdes Shrine is taking a big step towards working with the lay for a more holistic formation of the young.

Another formative intervention is the provision of basic Salesianity sessions. We can find these materials in Don Bosco’s very own “Memoirs of the Oratory.” This autobiography, written by Don Bosco himself, narrates in intimate details the events in the life of our very own founder from his boyhood until he became a priest called to serve the young. The members of the SYA, if they are to work with the Salesians for the salvation of souls, need to appreciate the life and spirituality of St. John Bosco.

The group may also be considered a “bridge that connects Youth Ministry to the Salesian Family.” By this image, we understand that the SYA leads the young people towards a better understanding of the Salesian Family. And because the members of the SYA are homegrown young adults coming from the oratory and the youth center, and have become very familiar with the Salesian way of life, then they can perfectly explain to their fellow young the nature of the Salesian Family. By serving the young they remain rooted in youth ministry.

In concrete terms the SYA members serve in general assistance of the daily evening programs in the DBYC, animate the youth prayers and the Rosary, give Good Night talks to the young, are resource speakers for the monthly formation, recollections and youth encounters. They also attend the Salesianity formation, coordinate Youth groups and contribute to the drafting of the SEPP for the DBYC associations. At present there are nine members of the SYA, accompanied by the Salesian community of Lourdes Archdiocesan Shrine, Cebu. The SYA has own criteria for the membership and formation plan for its members.

  • Full text of the SYA nature and rationale (2019)

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