Wednesday, December 03, 2008

10 Challenges to Youth Ministry in the 3rd Millennium

This is the first part of the talk of Fr. Mario Baclig, SDB when he addressed the Salesians and youth animators of both FIN and FIS provinces last November 29. The second part of his talk can be found here.

1. We are in the "Third Wave," says Alvin Toffler. Digital technology has brought the Information Revolution, and given us easy access to information. These are the best of times for everyone! In the words of Thomas Friedman, "the world is flat." For anyone and everyone, there is an equal opportunity to unfold and grow, to develop and bloom, to mature and bear fruit.

St. John Bosco said: "The fact that you are young is enough reason for me to love you!"

How then do we make this 3rd Millennium the best of times for young people?

2. We are in the age of globalization. The world has become a global barrio because of developments in transportation and communication. We are discovering the diversity of persons and cultures, and find it easy to establish and sustain interpersonal relationships in the midst of so much diversity.

St. John Bosco was a born communicator. He would have enjoyed these times.

How do we maximize our interpersonal relationships to build a united world in this 3rd Millennium?

3. We are entering "the age of spirituality," says Patricia Aburdene. We realize how limited is modern technology and how fragile are our economic and political systems. Hence, we turn to the spiritual world and draw strength from our deep inner sources. We allow our values to guide and energize us from within.

St. John Bosco lived with tireless enthusiasm and passed on this inner energy to the young.

How do we enable young people to enter into the inner spiritual world and empower them from within?

4. John Paul II challenged us to put Christ at the center of this Third Millennium. He is not just one more idea to discover, or one more gadget to acquire. He is a person—the most important one—to be "known, loved, and imitated."

St. John Bosco had one clear goal: to form the young into good Christians.

How do we lead the young people to Christ?

5. John Paul II challenged us to make "the spirituality of communion the guiding principle of education" wherever persons are being formed. The synergy generated by growing communities is most effective in transforming persons and sustaining their growth.

St. John Bosco wanted to form upright citizens, able to fulfill their role in building up society.

How do we form the young into community-builders?

6. The family is the basic unit of society and the Church. In the sanctuary of the home, life unfolds and develops. Love becomes real and bears fruit.

St. John Bosco knew what it means to lose a father in childhood and to grow under the loving care of Mamma Margaret.

How do we reach out to the young in the basic setting of the home and family?

7. The Church desires to return to the vitality of the beginning and foster the growth of basic ecclesial communities after the example of the early Christians in Jerusalem. Jesus said it clearly: "They will know you are Christians by your love for one another."

St. John Bosco wanted every center and school to be a community, exuding the atmosphere of a family.

How do we reach out to the young in the setting of the parish and its basic ecclesial communities?

8. Schools and training centers are privileged settings for children and youth. Through the total curriculum of these educative communities, growth is best fostered and sustained.

St. John Bosco was an educator par excellence; he developed and lived the Salesian system of education.

How do we reach out to the young in the setting of schools, including the public school system and college/university campus?

9. Modern media of communication, in all the different forms, carry messages back and forth at faster speed and with broader reach. In the Third Millennium, they make a powerful 24/7 impact on persons, individually and in mass.

St. John Bosco was at the vanguard of the media of his time.

How do we reach out to the young in the modern setting of the media?

10. Young people want to be welcomed and accepted as they are, with their longings and dreams, their needs and interests, their lights and sounds. Youth centers, in whatever form, provide such welcome to the young, who flock to shopping malls and entertainment centers or spend the day in farms and workplaces.

St. John Bosco opened the doors of his heart to the young and welcomed them.

How do we reach out to the young in the setting of renewed youth centers?

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