(ANS – Wittenheim) – For the last seven years Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians have conducted a week’s mission, going into a school and spending various times with the young people and adults. This year the mission was held at Wittenheim, in Alsace, on the theme: “Let’s learn to put colour into our lives!”
The task given to the missionaries before they set out was to help the young people to overcome barriers between groups and gangs. A this a special team game was devised – each team with a different colour so that the students could be divided and mixed together. Then with various activities such as sack races, crossing a stream without getting wet, a quiz on Don Bosco and Madre Mazzarello… they were able to get together and share ideas. As the day progressed a large jig-saw puzzle was being put together on the wall of the gym representing the word “Life”
The 500 Wittenheim students, often with a background of school failure, welcomed the missionaries with great curiosity and real enthusiasm. They were pleased to be listened to and appreciated and in talking with the Salesians and the FMA were encouraged to expand their horizons and acquire new prospects.
On one occasion, for example, two students were chatting with a young Sister about a religious vocation. One then said to the other: “So a ruffian like you could never be a religious.” But the Sister, contradicting the first of the youngsters told them the story of young Michael Magone. At the end of their chat the youngster considered a ruffian, struck by the Sister’s words joined the missionaries at Mass.
Conversations between the young people and the religious were non-stop and very productive. A performance about Jesus, put on by the mission group and the chaplaincy team of the Institute was another opportunity for a further exchange of ideas between the religious and the youngsters who spoke very frankly: “Why have you chosen this job? Don’t you have the right to have a family? How much is your pay?” or else “But doesn’t someone who gets married have to live poverty, chastity and obedience?” were some of the questions put to the religious.
Among the issues looked at during the week was also violence. Fr Olivier Robin spoke to the staff about how to handle it, whether inside oneself or with regard to the young people. The teachers were very taken by what he had to say, and they decided to continue the discussion among themselves.
The Past Pupils and the Salesians-Cooperators were also involved in the activities and gave a circus performance.
Naturally much attention was given to the spiritual dimension of the mission: through prayer moments, simple celebrations, joyful but at the same time recollected, the missionaries helped the young people to think more deeply about this often neglected aspect of their lives.