By Fr. Lou Molinelli, SDB, Province Delegate of Youth Ministry
In the last section of the Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference, the focus is on the animating structures that support a comprehensive youth ministry as well as foster collaboration and co-responsibility of all who are part of the Educative and Pastoral Community (EPC). In last week’s column, I wrote to you about the various roles in the youth and young adult ministry department. This week, I want to share with you the need for the continuous formation of all in the Salesian mission.
We are told that in order to strengthen the Salesian charism and to see to our fidelity to it, "...Salesians and lay people (need) to be accompanied in order to give greater depth to their educational vocation and to update them in their practical skills" (p. 272). In order to do this and given the ecclesiology of Vatican II and the contemporary needs of the young, there need to be "... common formative experiences for Salesians, lay people, young co-workers, and members of the Salesian Family" (p. 272). This formation requires our collaboration together, as the EPC, in four areas:
- There needs to be a systematic and sound plan for formation in the Salesian model of youth ministry in the initial stages of Salesian formation for the SDBs. This is done through the plan outlined in the Province Formation Plan.
- For all teachers, leaders, coaches, catechists, administrators, and others involved in the Salesian mission, there needs to be a program of formation that qualifies them to be educators and pastors.
- Attention needs to be given to the spiritual accompaniment of the young as we engage in our ministry. It is not enough to be good educators and youth ministers. We must be able to do this by accompanying the young through discernment and spiritual guidance.
- Our formation for the mission to the young is ongoing. We make good use of programs of formation, workshops, reflective moments, and academic and pastoral study to be able to internalize the model of Salesian Youth Ministry, have it take root in our lives, and breathe through our actions so that we live it, present it, and share it with the young and one another.
Every one of us involved in the Salesian mission for the young is a youth minister before we are anything else. We must see that the ultimate goal is the accompanying of the young to a personal relationship with Christ. If our programs, educational plans, gatherings, and planning do not accomplish this, we have fallen very short of our role as ministers among the young, for our goal is the salvation of souls.