These three questions below are for our course on Salesian Youth Ministry:
What is your happiest moment as a Salesian Youth Minister
Right off, this experience below, which took place when I was a novice, tops the list of my happiest experience of being a Salesian Youth Minister.
Back in the novitiate, my knowledge of the Cebuano language was meager. Fielding me to give formation and assistance to young people ranging from early teens to early adults wasn’t really much of a breeze. It was unimaginable. I felt so miserable.
One Sunday afternoon, I was suddenly thrust into the role of King Solomon when a crying little boy from the basketball club came to me and told me that a bigger boy punched him. I went to the ‘culprit’ and with an attempt to speak broken Cebuano, I figured out the reason why. They were arguing about whether the name of the male genital organ printed in the textbook of the little boy was obscene or not. They debated over it until the bigger kid couldn’t resist showing that he is correct by showing the little boy his ‘might.’
I must have consumed all the Cebuano vocabulary I know of to inquire further—and to hide my amusement. After the long series of questions, the bigger kid realized that what he did wasn’t right. Apologies were in order, I told him. And he sheepishly extended his hand to the smaller boy.
What is your saddest?
I was a newly minted practical trainee. Fresh from the walls of my post-novitiate formation, I was surely brimming not just with a distinct brand of idealism, but with an enthusiasm to make the motto of Don Bosco a concrete reality in this day and age.
Having been assigned in the pre-novitiate seminary, I must have been unconscious that I expected the young aspirants and pre-novices to keep up with the standards I imposed to myself.
One time, I was in the dormitory assisting when the first bell rang. Most of the aspirants were swift in their response. They banished the dormitory at once. I was, at the very least, pleased. I told myself that the reminders to heed the bell and be punctual are paying off.
When the second bell came, I was expecting that the hall would be completely free of people. But my heart sank when I saw a lone aspirant who was still wearing his socks. I reckoned that it was not the first time he’s late. And from what I made sense of his pace, he was taking his sweet time.
I screamed at him “Why is it that even if I am praying for you, nothing seems happening?” At that point, he rushed out of the dormitory.
That was the sad part because of the expectation I set which that aspirant did not meet, and more especially because with how I responded to situation, I fell short, too, of what I expected myself to be.
What are some of your dreams/aspirations as a SYM, both for yourself personally and for the congregation as a whole?
As a Salesian youth minister, I dream to journey with the young people toward the path of holiness. This is also what I dream for the congregation: that it may remain faithful to the aspirations of Don Bosco, our founder.
The brand of holiness Don Bosco desired for his young people is that which fuses spirituality with practicality. He did not just celebrate the sacraments for them and with them—he also commissioned his young people to do something for the society: he taught them craftsmanship, and fostered service in their hearts. In a nut shell, he wanted them to be “Good Christians, Honest Citizens.”
This is also what I dream as a youth minister. This is also what I wish the congregation remains to be doing in order to remain a relevant force in the education and evangelization of the young people.