RMG – Salesian Mission Day 2022: over to the General Councillors

(ANS – Rome) – The General Councillors of Missions, Fr. Alfred Maravilla, Youth Ministry, Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende, and Social Communication, Fr. Gildasio Mendes, answer some questions about "Communicating Christ Today".

Communicating:  We all communicate, we all need to communicate. According to your experiences, what is the most neglected thing in the communication of us - educators, animators, Salesians - with young people?

Fr. Gildasio Mendes - Young people have a linguistic code to interpret their lives and reality. A great challenge for us is to enter into this code in a friendly and interactive way. The youth language code passes through their hearts feelings, affections, desires for relationships and trust. Loving young people in the name of God and entering into their lives to make a path of faith and Christian life.

Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende - The topic of communication is very delicate because we often run the risk of talking about "challenges", even if they are present, rather than entering into the subject of concrete operational possibilities. This is because our young people are already 'there', they invest their time, they live connected through the technology they carry and bring with them. All this raises questions of the first order for youth ministry, almost 'forcing' certain rethinks.

Fr. Alfred Maravilla - Communication involves several components that we need to seriously consider: first of all the sender who encodes the message by choosing the best channel through which the message is relayed — like the social media, print media, etc — from the sender to the receiver. The receiver, in turn, analyses the message in his context and interprets it in ways both intended and unintended by the sender. Finally, the feedback indicates how well the message was received.

Christ: Many young people try to get closer to Christ or to deepen their personal relationship with Him, but they say that the Church does not help them much in this, quite the opposite. What would you advise them to do?

Fr. Gildasio Mendes - Jesus Christ teaches us that to proclaim the Good News is to walk together, to make a process of change of mentality, to be open to the new, to learn, to deepen, and to involve. The Church teaches us through history that evangelizing requires closeness, walking together. The closer we are to young people, the more we walk with them on the road to Emmaus today, the more we can discover together with them how to live their faith in the Church with commitment and joy.

Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende - If within youth ministry, on the one hand, we keep in mind to move from "contents" to "people", on the other hand, we also realize that in practice we sometimes do not know what is essential for faith. Recovering the content of the Gospel, Jesus Christ, is the right thing to do with young people. As educators-pastors it is necessary to ask ourselves if each of us has something to offer and if our own testimony of faith can provoke attraction and serve as an appeal. What young people are looking for are relationships, friendship, complicity, protagonism, freedom, intimacy, concern, information, relief, belonging, support, feelings, closeness. Does not the Salesian educative-pastoral proposal have something to do with all this?

Fr. Alfred Maravilla - Jesus Christ is not a doctrine to be believed but a person to be encountered. Therefore, proclaiming Him means making sure that all our activities foster an overwhelming and exhilarating experience of Jesus which is capable of stirring an interest in His person that leads to an initial adhesion to Him, or the revitalization of faith in Him. Without this concern to foster initial proclamation, any effort to evangelize will be sterile because initial proclamation is that spark that leads to conversion and begins the process of evangelization.

Today: What can help us to follow and make good use of current trends and, on the other hand, not limit ourselves to looking for the best form?

Fr. Gildasio Mendes - Don Bosco lived the way of educating and evangelizing starting from the pedagogy of the heart of the good shepherd who welcomes and loves in the name of God. I like Don Bosco's expression: deeply human, deeply holy. Every pastoral methodology has as its centerpiece the example of the Good Samaritan. Love witnessed in service to others, especially to the poorest and suffering, always generates new and current messages. The content of some messages passes through this way of loving and serving.

Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende - With the media, a real living continent has been created, with the vocation of being a common and public place. If the youth ministry does not intervene in this space, then it will be responsible for its own absence. We have an obligation to reposition ourselves and then choose how to act. No one would be able to live the digital world if they did not see in it some opportunities for growth, both for themselves and in the meaningful relationships they experience. This is why young people are always looking for a virtual space, often in the form of images and short catchphrases. In any case, the need remains to be part of something, an important part.

Fr. Alfred Maravilla - Today social media are part of our lives. They allow us to communicate with hundreds of thousands of people with one click. Thus, the challenge to every believer, to every Salesian educator, is to use social media by offering young people content that will help them personally encounter Jesus in some way. Our present fluid culture searches for something stable that helps make sense where nothing is considered permanent. Today social media provide a unique opportunity to address questions concerning virtue, relationship, and faith in Jesus Christ. Let's seize this opportunity!


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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