Seoul, Provincial House, 22 January 2022 -- At present there are more than 10 Salesian confreres in the 107 SDB Korean province of the Korean Martyrs (Headquarters in Seoul) who are well trained in counselling of the young people. At the same time, aside froom many lay mission partners in the Salesian works for youth at risk, there are also two Counselling Centres. One is a local government centre in Kangwon province, entrusted to the Salesians years ago, and the other one is located in the Seoul provincial house. The latter previously know as 'Salesio Youth Suicide Prevention Centre' is now known as 'Respect for Life Counselling Centre'. Salesian Brother Benedict Baek, who was previously involved for 20 years in the youth in need apostolate (group home) or youth at risk (youth in probation period) is the founder and director of this centre since 2016. Working together with one lay mission partner, Br Benedict meets some 7-10 young people every week for counselling, apart from his duties as house economer and provincial delegate for the Salesian Family.
Q: Br Benedict, why did you start this Counseling centre?
Yes, when you journey with the young people in need you are struck by many psychological challenges they face. Simply, we started this in order to help the young people more effectively.
Q: You have been living and working many years for the young. What is their main need?
At present our young people, in order to grow up healthy need to overcome their psychological difficulties in daily life. Young people need first of all to recover the awareness of their life goals and motivation and to recover their self-confidence and self-esteem. Especially growing up in divorced families they miss meaningful adults who would accompany them in their difficulties with a whole heart.
Q: What is the main challenge of the youth in Korea today?
In the highly competitive society of South Korea their main challenge is study and employment. Especially with the growing materialistic and consumerist society, the respect for life is fast diminishing in our society.
Q: What are the main issues that your clients bring to the counseling centre?
Our counselling ministry is facing mainly school drop-outs and various difficulties in personal relationship of the youth.
Q: And what about the parents of your clients?
Yes, behind the challenges of our young people are always their parents who struggle with the education of their children. We dedicate a lot energy and time to counselling parents.
Q: What is your dream as aSalesian Brother?
I dream and strive wholeheartedly to journey with the young people and live my religious life through their accompaniment.
Q: What is the reason for this development of counselling ministry in the Korean province?
Through Salesian Youth Ministry we are meeting many young people who face psychological difficulties. In particular, their challenges of adjustment to school, society or their depression, anger disorder, social phobia, self-harm, suicidal ideas, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, lack of morality, smoking, drinking, distrust of parents due to divorce or even missing their family life. We try to understand their hearts, their challenges and work with these kinds of youngsters for their better future.