THE XV GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF SALESIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT EUROPE AND MIDDLE EAST
The XV European General Assembly of the Salesian Youth Movement was held at Brussels, Belgium from 23 – 25 November, 2018. There were over 70 participants, comprising of young people, Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), from 19 European countries. The participants were welcomed by the FMA community of the “Internat Don Bosco” in Ganshoren, Brussels, and by young people of SYM France – South Belgium. The General Assembly of SYM Europe is a regular feature for the past fifteen years and is usually held at the end of November, and is host by different countries of Europe. This year General Assembly theme: “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment” and of European integration, between challenges and opportunities, have been the focus.
About 30 participants arrived at Brussels on the previous of the meeting, in order to the take advantage, of the opportunity for a guided tour to the European Parliament and the headquarters of COMECE, the representative office of the Episcopal Conferences of the member countries of the European Union. These guided tours were organized by SYM Europe together with “Don Bosco International”, the representative office of the Salesians of Don Bosco of the European institutions.
By Friday 23rd, evening all the participants arrived. The meeting began with welcome greetings of Sr. Runita Borja, the General Councillor for Youth Ministry, she also convey the greetings of Don Fabio, General Councillor for Youth Ministry of the SDB, who could not be present physically. Sr. Runita then led the inaugural prayer by invoking the blessing of the Lord upon all the participants. The prayer was an act of thanksgiving to God for the marvels the Lord has done and is doing through the instrumentality of the Salesian Youth Movement, as it celebrate the 30th anniversary of and recall the saga of the movement. The prayer was followed by the testimony of Markéta Imlaufová, a young woman involved in Salesian youth ministry in the Czech Republic, who participated in the Pre-Synodal meeting at Rome a meeting called by Pope Francis. Her testimony gave orientation and introduced the theme of the XV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which ended on October 28th.
On Saturday, November 24, Fr Rossano Sala SDB, Professor, at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome, he was one of the Special Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, 2018. He presented the Final Document approved by that Assembly. “This Final Document, ” explained Fr Sala, “is not a mere document, but first of all is the fruit of the spiritual experience. The “Synod” he added, has just began.
The young people, the Salesians and the FMA present in Brussels then worked in groups, basing on the conference of Fr Sala. They identified three priorities for the future of SYM Europe: formation for all, young animators included, for spiritual accompaniment and discernment; sharing of existing good practices in this field; and the need to meet young people as they are and where they are found, as the young people seek the meaning and truth of their lives, including the digital world.
This year’s Assembly also has another feature, the renewal of the Small Team, i.e., the group of young leaders called to animate SYM Europe, supported by the SDB Dicastery and the FMA for Youth Ministry. Anne-Florence Perras (France), Blazka Merkac (Slovenia) and Carina Baumgartner (Austria) completed their three years’ service as member of the small team, therefore there was an election for the new team for the term of three-years (2018-2021) the new small team are: Pablo Osorio (Spain), Jeanine Balzan Engerer (Malta) and Marta Radić (Croatia). The Assembly members thanked the outgoing small team members and congratulated the new team and wishing them the best in their service of animation and leadership.
Sunday, November 25,11,2018, SYM Europe Assembly had the opportunity to meet with Fr Olivier Poquillon OP, Secretary General of COMECE, for a dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of European integration, and the role that the Church and the youth movements can play in the present scenario of Europe. From the challenges of demography and democratic participation, to those of digital innovation and migration, there are many possible fields of engagement for young people of SYM Europe, to involve and to bring about changes in the society and in the Church.
THE COMMON DESIRE OF YOUNG PEOPLE, SDB AND FMA, IS: TO LIVE THE “SYNOD”, IN UNISON, IN THE WAY OF: THE SALESIAN YOUTH SPIRITUALITY. THE SPIRITUALITY OF ORDINARY DAILY LIFE, SPIRITUALITY OF JOY AND OPTIMISM, SPIRITUALITY OF FRIENDSHIP WITH THE LORD JESUS, SPIRITUALITY OF COMMUNION IN THE CHURCH, SPIRITUALITY OF RESPONSIBLE SERVICE.