YOUTH GROUP SALESIAN STYLE

Don Bosco Camp Dromana (Australia)

Volleyball at the 'oratory' Fiji

(The background to this was a direct request from one parish where Antioch had been in existence for a number of years but was now on the wane - yet a number of older ‘post-Antioch’ young people wanted to come together under some organized banner, and the reality of a group, again of older teenagers-to-early-twenties which was meeting, had been doing things together and were looking for both a name and a style that reflected their Salesian origins).

What follows takes the following realities into account:

1. Antioch (since most of those to be involved have been members). Its good points are its sense of community, prayer, a well-defined catechesis, use of Scripture, and the way it at least intends to bring together the family-school-parish triad. Some negatives have been a tendency to be fundamentalist where Scripture is concerned, a certain inward-lookingness, and some confusion between enthusiasm and commitment.

2. Several existing groups of young people, mainly in late teens, who are open to another way of doing things if it offers them structure and opportunity.

3. An interest from the diocesan youth team; in fact direct involvement of two members of that team in the groups above.

4. Two Salesian parishes open to forming youth groups with a distinctive Salesian character.

5. The encouragement from the 23rd Salesian General Chapter to do just this - develop groups characterized by Salesian spirituality and aiming to help young people grow in faith and life.

 

 

 NAMES

(Suggestions only)

AIMS

1. Builders of better selves

2. Builders of a better society

3. through a practical, youthful

4. Spirituality

MARKED BY

1. Appropriate use of Scripture with increased understanding

2. Deepening of prayer life

3. Genuine apostolate/outreach

4. A Salesian style (cf animation and spirituality below)

ROLE OF ADULTS

The Preventive System of Don Bosco is ‘interventionist’, i.e. it believes that the adult, with due reverence and caution, enters the world of the young and ‘walks with’ them.

ANIMATION - THE KEY DYNAMIC

1. Animation is a way of thinking about the person - growth to maturity, inner resources, personal responsibility for ones own growth.

2. Animation is a method - selection of opportunities, experiences, resources and their organization which is flexible and growth-oriented.

3. Animation is a style of accompanying the young by means of suggestion, motivation.

4. Animations aim is life, life to the full.

5. Animation requires an animator.

6. Animation becomes an overall strategy involving time, place, experiences.

 

STRUCTURE

There are two fundamental prongs to the groups already existing (cf background above) which suggests a structure which is both natural and growth promoting:

1. Action

2. Meetings

ACTION

The group aims to provide intense social experiences which are also a form of service. Such experience involves fun and games, outings, eating together, apostolic activity, acceptance of others no matter how different. There may be a key focus for the action (e.g. summer camps, leadership, music ministry in the parish) but it will seek to diversify, grow.

Action becomes an entry point. (cf below for some motivation also behind a good entry point).

MEETING

Meetings involve those who have shown in action a commitment to or at least an openness towards commitment to the aims of the group

1. Structure

i) experience

ii) shared reflection on experience

iii) discernment - the experience reflected on in the light of Scripture, prayer

iv) further action, resolve

 

2. Key concepts for talks, discussions, contributions which promote growth of the person as human being and Christian.

i) Life is the place where we meet God (Human experience is open to being religious experience)

ii) Life in Christ (The question of meaning in life)

iii) Growth into a community of believers (Church, sacraments, Mary)

iv) Spirituality Salesian style (cf below)

A ‘curriculum’ needs to be developed by the animators around these key concepts. This is the catechesis that the group provides and which can be particular to the needs and circumstances of each group. It is here that the well-developed list of topics, talks contained in Antioch manuals can be most useful. A further very useful reference is the material contained in pages 78-97 of the Acts of 23rd General Chapter of the Salesians. This material offers sets of attitudes and experiences relevant to each of the above concepts.

 SALESIAN SPIRITUALITY

(A useful reference is the 23rd GC book quoted above).

1. Life - ordinary daily life is the setting for knowing and recognizing God.

2. Joy and optimism - without prejudice to commitment and responsibility.

3. Friendship with the Lord Jesus - Jesus understood as friend, teacher, model, Saviour/Redeemer. He gives hope for life lived to the full.

4. The Church - natural setting for growth in faith through the sacraments. In the Church we also find Mary as mother, first disciple.

5. Responsible service - both ordinary and extraordinary. This includes a sense of call and guidance in that call.

OTHER

1. Frequency - consistency and regularity are essential whatever the rhythm of meeting and action (weekly, fortnightly, monthly...)

2. Formation - takes place as a result of both action and meeting and the essential role of the animator.

3. Entry level motivation - Look for (amongst those involved in the action)

attraction to the person of Jesus

desire to be of service.

Both are necessary, but one finds usually one or the other. Each type needs to be handled differently.

4. Formal training. At some point a weekend is necessary, though not necessarily at the beginning.

5. Renewal - essential. At some point in the course of the year - a day or a weekend.