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South Asian Symposium on Salesian Youth Ministry at Guwahati - Frist Day

By Fr. Jefferson
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Guwahati, Nov. 4. Don Bosco Youth Services - South Asaia commenced its symposium, ''In The Service of the Young'' with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fr. Fabio Attard General Councillor for Youth Ministry at DBI, Guwahati. Fr. Fabio, in his homily gave a clarion call to all the Salesians to respond to God's unconditional love and allow it to take a significant form by transfusing it into the lives of the youth to make them fully human and divine.
Fr. Maria Charles, national delegate for youth services in South Asia at the opening session invited the participants to exploit the two full days of learning and experience on youth ministry so as to make inroads into the lives of the young. In the first exposition Fr. Attard reflected on Youth ministry in Global Context with reference to Salesians of Don Bosco as Youth animators and their relevancy and responsibility. He identified those youth who post challenge to the Salesians to have a personal experience of Jesus as creative minorities coming to our shelters not a refugees but as persons seeking a place that will sustain their dignity. He expressed his wish that our Youth Ministry evangelizes and educates these creative minorities even as the Salesians strive to be mystics and prophets. In his concluding note on our relevancy and responsibility towards Youth ministry he cautioned the danger of becoming a prey to lack of faith due to activism.

In the second session Fr. Ajoy Fernandez made a presentation on ''profile of a South Asian Youth.'' His statistical exposition was on the youth scenario in India and provided an in-depth awareness about their education, work, media exposure, socialization, peer network and interactions, gender roles, awareness of sexual and reproductive issues and suicidal tendencies. His statistical note was intended to lead the participants to understand the profile of a South Asian Youth.

The Third Presentation was by Fr. Jose Kuttianmattathil. His topic was an inspiring discussion on Educating and evangelizing the young in a pluralistic religious context.  He proposed an approach which he termed ''Lotus-focussed mentoring''. Interestingly in his detailed discussion on evangelization, he argued that the approach cannot be same for the entire youth in the world. He remarked that considering the entire youth as one homogenous group is sheer poverty of youth ministry.

The post lunch session was a Panel discussion aimed at a critical look at our existing services in various sectors and suggesting new trends and measures to create space to allow youth participation, growth, development and fulfillment in our youth ministry. After the presentations by national delegates of the youth ministry, the participants had time to clarify and raise their concern towards the same. The discussions were all geared towards having a clear perspective of whether we are working at the transformation of the society, and whether we are truly working for the really poor who need us.

The final session for the day was chaired by Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga Regional for South Asia. His reflections were on understanding Salesian Charism and their Mission for Youth in the context of South Asia. He called for a different mind set by giving a wider understanding to the concept of Mission which is essentially coupled with our life of Consecration. He insisted that our ministry should evangelize culture and that we should be wary of institutionalism. He concluded his discussion by inviting all to becoming ''intelligently loving'' persons, to direct our attention towards the suffering youth and to stand out in this world as truly Mystics, Prophets and Servants.
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