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DBYA-South Asia Webinar Discusses Salesian Youth Ministry Amidst COVID-19

By Father Babu Varghese
Salesian youth Ministry Amidst COVID-19
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New Delhi, May. 24. Don Bosco Youth Animation South Asia [DBYA-SA] organised a 02-hour webinar on 22 May  'Salesian Youth Ministry amidst COVID-19 to discuss the 04 dimensions  [Educaion to Faith, Education and Culture, Social Experience and Vocational Guidance]. Youth Ministry Delegates and the heads of the 04 Dimensions of Youth Ministry from every Salesian province of South Asia, participated in the webinar. Moderated by Father Robert Simon, the panelists were Father Paulraj Amalraj, Father Maria Charles and Father Glenford Lowe. All the participants were invited to take stock and read the signs of the times during Covid-19 and accompany young people in these challenging times.
COVID-19 has certainly put Salesian Educators in a spot!A rethink has been forced about our educational system and on how to educatively engage young people during these months of lockdown! There is a need to reflect on new paradigms of education where educating is uninterrupted and relevant. Father Charles spoke on 'Challenges and Opportunities' saying, ''at this moment when transformation is normal, when there is a change in the way we relate to each other, when there is massive job loss and unemployment, when the poor are left to themselves, when migrants are walking back home, the Salesians have to rethink about the education ministry.''

There is need to look at new Apps and not at books and new infrastructure. The young people will have to be trained in new skills and a new work culture. There is need for a right blend of the physical as well as virtual. The poor must have access to technology. The Salesians need to be connected to young people during Covid days to be effective during Post-Covid days. As Pope Francis teaches it is important to begin to reason immediately about what lies around the corner so as not to be unprepared. The health crisis has already triggered an economic one. The risk is that a social crisis will be provoked if this economic crisis is not dealt with immediately. There is a need for courage, for prophecy. This is not the time for indifference, selfishness or divisions, because the whole world is suffering and must find itself united in confronting the pandemic.

Father Lowe enlightened the participants about innovating youth ministry for today. Every Salesian has to be creative in these Covid times, but must go back to Salesian identity and Salesian spirituality. He exhorted the Salesians to be present in the real world of the young, then only they can be present in the virtual world. Father Lowe said, ''the option for the poor must find tangible expressions. The Salesians could reach out creatively to young people through campaigns such (1) Stay Home, Stay Safe, (2) Stay Home, Stay Healthy, (3) Stay Home, Stay Creative, (4) Stay Home, Study Smart and (5) Stay Home, Stay Happy. It's time for Salesians to renew their vigour and Salesianity and personally accompany the young people, so that they don't give up hope, so that they don't give up dreams.''

As the Pope said on 27 March: ''The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. In this, we rediscover God, who has entrusted us with such a vocation of being in solidarity with others. We are rediscovering how much the destiny of each of us is linked to that of others. We are rediscovering the value of the things that matter and the worthlessness of so many things that we once considered important.''

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