By Fr. Lou Molinelli, SDB, Province Delegate of Youth Ministry
The Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference devotes a section in its chapters of animation structures to the role of the SDB religious community in local animation and coordination of the youth ministry of the educative pastoral community (EPC). The Salesian religious community "...lives, safeguards, reflects on, and constantly develops the charism of Don Bosco" (p. 273). This is the unique role of animation of the religious community. As the animating nucleus of the EPC and the Salesian presence, the SDBs are called upon to do the following:
To provide the witness of Salesian life. They are to witness to the primacy of God in their lives and total dedication to the mission of education and evangelization. Like Jesus called his disciples at the ascension to "...be my witnesses to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
To safeguard the Salesian charismatic identity through a close presence among the young. While the SDBs fulfill many offices of administration in the Salesian presence, the primary role is to care for the young, our collaborations, and the advancement of the educative pastoral Plan (SEPP).
To be a center of communion and participation. The SDBs are called to bring the various groups in the EPC together in the old movement of spirit for the mission of St. John Bosco.
To take the primary responsibility for spiritual, Salesian, and religious formation.
The Frame of Reference points to a significant paradigm shift in the Salesian religious community’s role. In the past, the SDBs assumed accountability almost exclusively for the educational work and surrounding environment, inviting lay people when they were needed. Now, the SDB community is called to invite lay people to join in and share responsibility with them in furthering Don Bosco’s mission.
Indeed, this is the focus of the 2023 strenna! We must see ourselves as one Salesian Family, respecting each sector’s specific roles and responsibilities. We must see each group as equally vital to the mission as every other group in advancing the mission to and for the young. That’s why working together, planning together, and having honest and open relationships is vital. May we not shy away from this challenge!