Italy – How to give hope to young people: Interview with Fr Domenico Ricca

08 October 2021

(ANS - Turin) - Fr Domenico Ricca, a Salesian, is chaplain of the "Ferrante Aporti" Penal Institute for minors in Turin. He has held numerous national and regional positions in favor of the most vulnerable children. He is President of the "Amici di Don Bosco" (Friends of Don Bosco) association and Ecclesiastical Councilor of the ACLI of the Province of Turin. Below is an excerpt from his interview with “La Voce e il Tempo”.

The pandemic has revealed new frailties even among the most “fortunate” young people and it is widely claimed that the new generations will pay a high price. Do you share this analysis?

If there is one category of people about which one should never generalize, it is young people. Today they show the bandage on their arm proudly: they are young people and adolescents who do not think only of being free, on a holiday. They choose to be vaccinated to return to normality, return to classes, to overcome the nightmare of online learning, resume sports activities, and also to return to university or work safely.

What must the adult world do to help children look beyond Covid-19 and plan for the future?

Here the theme refers to what kind of communication should be established between adults and young people. We adults are still too closely linked to verbal communication made up of good words, full of "I recommend it!". But isn't it time to set up the signs and open towards direct meetings? Because we all experience the richness of a prolonged meeting, without haste, not watching the clock, but conveying the real feeling of being there just for them. We need to share our experiences. This is what Don Bosco wrote in 1884 from Rome, in a letter sent to the Salesians of Turin Valdocco: "It is not enough that young people are loved, but that they understand they are loved! With this he invited them to be among the boys, to play with them, to follow them in all their activities, to practise closeness...

What is the role of youth ministry in our dioceses?

Youth ministry has great opportunities: young educators and priests who are among young people. They are helped by the closeness of their age group, and by the many opportunities that are available to them, including: summer camps for young people, school camps, oratories that are open and welcoming regardless of skin colour or religious affiliation. But even here - and I am not one to teach others - it seems obvious that these opportunities to meet, need to be played out across the board, not to be afraid, but to live them with joy. Because, if the young people see that we believe in them, they will never be mere spectators.

How can we help our young people visualize their tomorrow?

The pandemic has shown us how much we need responsibility. The responsible and supportive self, the self that recognises the common destiny of human beings. The integral development of the person has been enriched with further implications and coherence, also linked to the inalienable principle of equal dignity and equality. The person is more than the individual: he is a fully realised self. He lives in 'us', he seeks 'us'. We feel a growing desire to start again: the driving force is the confidence that we will be able to improve ourselves.

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