Ecuador – Volunteering, a Salesian way of life: 50 years of the Salesian Family's Missionary Youth Volunteering

16 November 2022

(ANS - Quito) - In this 2022, the Salesian Family's Missionary Youth Volunteering Project (VJMFS, in Spanish) turned 50 years old and the Salesian Province "Sacred Heart of Jesus" of Ecuador (ECU) celebrated this anniversary on Saturday, November 12, with a Eucharist, at the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians - El Girón, in the city of Quito. Volunteers, former volunteers, Volunteers Forever (VPS), and Salesian Family groups gathered to thank God for the path of service traveled.

Fr. Francisco Sánchez, ECU Provincial, presided over the Mass and in his homily told the young people present that volunteering is just a step, a stepping stone in the proposal God has for their lives. "He wants much more, he wants you active in society, he wants that you build it, guide it, he wants you in the Church, in the Salesian Family, sharing the charism and mission of Don Bosco, he wants you, as Don Bosco said, happy in time and in eternity."

At the end of the Eucharist, a cultural event was held in the gymnasium of the Salesian Polytechnic University, where the official hymn of the VJMFS was sung and various artistic performances were made by the young people themselves. In addition, a commemorative gift was presented to the Salesians, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and the lay people who were part of the animation teams of the VJMFS project.

As part of this celebration, 12 workers were also officially sent on missionary volunteer projects, both international (9) and national (3). They are, these, forms of volunteering that seek to promote a missionary experience that enables young or adult professionals to put their intellectual skills at the service of the community, especially the poorest.

"Volunteering is an invitation from God, a gift for my life. It motivates me greatly to be able to share Christ and to be able to do so through service to others; and, at the same time, I know that I am also a recipient of this same mission," Ruth Tinizaray commented on the occasion.

For her part, volunteer Verónica Oyervide added, "My principal motivation is the missionary vocation that I experienced when I did my national volunteer work in Wasakentsa: the inculturation with the Achuar people filled my heart with so much love, and I want to relive this experience in the mission that I will do in Peru."

For Juan Diego Ullaguari, "the motivation came from my family, education in the faith and the continuous animation I received from a very young age from my aunt, who is a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians."

Roberto Coronel, who has already had national missionary experience, as have others of his sisters, concludes, "Volunteerism lives and will live in the hearts of young people who have made the phrase, 'Volunteers, we are life and hope,' a cry of motivation and a way of life, which does not end in a year, because there will always be some child, teenager or young person who needs to know the love of God in the style of Don Bosco."

The national volunteer experience began in the ECU Province in 1972, with two young people from the "Mary Help of Christians" youth center in Cuenca. The first Salesian communities to welcome volunteers were those of Yaupi, Sucúa, and Riobamba, where the young people served for a year. Eight years later, the Provincial Chapter officially assumed the volunteer experience among its areas of interest. In the early 2000s, volunteering was taken up in community form by the whole Salesian Family as a pioneering initiative within the Congregation and brought together three groups (Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary) in coordinating the three phases: pre-volunteering, volunteering, and post-volunteering. Since 1982, when the first historical records are kept, until the most recent missionary sending, a total of 2,594 volunteers have been sent.


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