Marawi, the Philippines, 22 July 2020 -- The article that follows was offered on 21 July, although it refers to an event back in March. Still and all, it is worth reporting on. The Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) has proven to be the most effective educator of volunteers. Through its processes and itineraries, SYM has helped and still helps many young people to mature, to identify themselves with the pedagogy and the spirituality of Don Bosco and put themselves at the service of the mission. Within the SYM, the missionary movements and groups that grow sensitive to service, interculturality and missionary are noteworthy. (Volunteering in the Salesian Mission, p. 95)
Salesian Youth Empowers and Evangelizes Non-Salesian Youngsters
The Salesian youth have given more opportunities to serve others even to those non-Salesian youngsters. Last March 2020, the Salesian Youth Movement-FIS core group was pleased to be invited by the Commission on Missions (CoM) to organize and facilitate a 3-day retreat to the students and some professors from the Mindanao State University (MSU) in the Islamic City of Marawi, Philippines. The said retreat took place at Dapit Alim Shrine, Tubod, Lanao Del Norte. There were 2 batches with a total of 34 participants mostly migrant students coming from distant places across Mindanao and were survivors of the 2017 Marawi siege; unfortunately, the 3rd batch was cancelled due to the strict implementation of the community quarantine and travel ban caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Feeding yourself good food makes you healthy so as joining on a retreat makes you whole again. Both the participants and the facilitators had certainly gained a more personal encounter with Jesus through the reflective sessions, the prayer moments, the people present, and nature itself. Most of the participants shared how blissful they were because of the retreat offered to them. It gave them the opportunity to uproot themselves from the usual bustle of life in the city. As they say, being close with nature and of course with God ones in a while must be included in the must-to-do-list.
The success of the retreat was not possible without the assistance of the Salesians: Fr. Arvin Abatayo, SDB, CoM Delegate; Fr. Vince Michael Sabal, SDB, SYM In-charge; and the coordinators of Catholic Students Organization of MSU. The experience was a good fruit of a great collaboration and the unwavering support of one another in empowering the young people to EVANGELIZE.
Takeaways and Reflections from a Participant
By: Flory Mae Madrid (Batch 2 participant)
Embarked with Christ-centered people, our Music Ministry Retreat has successfully brought to social and spiritual growth. It gave essential realizations about the small things by the sight that played a great part in our entirety as a human being - fresh air we breathe, trees that calm us, water for free, and sunlight that helps creatures grow. These things had to lead me to a special appreciation of the Creator who loves us indefinitely. I've realized all of these as I have been able to reconnect myself to God with the help of the place's serenity and especially through the spearhead of the events who warmly accompanied the ministry throughout the retreat. It was both a privilege and a blessing to be a participant of the retreat. I've gained so much love, fun, camaraderie, and strengthened personal faith. The activities we had are commendably great for it helped us to know more our co-ministers and learned to walk with each other's shoes. We had been able to listen on the calling of God through the silence of nature and by that, I am beyond grateful for that moment because, in the midst of a pandemic, the retreat serves as my new stepping stone in battling this war against humanity. Undeniably, with so much joy in my soul, I am greatly looking forward to that kind of retreat, so far the best I've ever had.