What are the main areas of Youth Ministry in the Vietnamese province?
There are 4 vocation technical schools or training centres, 32 parishes, many hostels, some oratories, many come-and-see programmes for vocation ministry. In my opinion, however, the most distinctive and challenging area is the Salesian Parish.
It is a matter of life or death to make Salesian Parishes more distinctively and visibly Salesian. It is necessary to highlight the Salesian charismatic identity in Salesian parishes with some distinguishing characteristics: ability to coordinate all forces to care for poor youth; catechetical and missionary activity; great concern for the ordinary and working class. Therefore, it is essential to live the community dimension of Salesian consecration in the parish. We need to define the animating nucleus of the community guided by the Rector and the collaboration of the parish. The role of the Salesian parish priest needs to be renewed in a religious and consecrated way, without falling into the temptation of the clerical mentality. Yes, we need a conversion in the sense of belonging.
The vocation ministry area comes next. We need to enhance and advance the attractive witness and beauty of Salesian prophetic life, personal and communal. Candidates to Salesian life should be moved and touched by witnesses of a total self-giving, work and temperance. At the same time, we need to pay attention to the fast decreasing number of vocations. Sure, it is not the problem of quantity that concerns us, but we cannot ignore such a fact.
Another urgent need is to animate the Oratory: to return to Don Bosco's original desire when he launched the work of the oratory. It is not a question of entertainment and recreation. It must be educative and missionary, especially in the playground. It is time to evaluate the quantity and quality of the oratories at our Salesian houses for a pastoral and educative springboard, to reach out to local youth.
After two years as Youth Ministry delegate, what strong points and challenges do you discover?
We notice some strong points such as the good number of young and zealous confreres, as well as many dedicated youths who are attracted by the closeness of the Salesians.
We notice also quite few challenges such as lack of team work, difficulty in working together for the one Mission for the young and poor; and a big work still to be done is to reach out to the marginalized youths with the zeal of pastoral charity.
Looking to the future, what strategies or paths are important to follow to develop the vocation and missionary culture in the province?
We need a clear-cut plan of life at personal level, and growth in the planning culture at provincial and local level. We need a fraternal and pastoral - missionary conversion.
The Salesian Youth Ministry Framework of Reference is already translated into Vietnamese and is in the hands of all perpetually professed confreres. What, according to you, are the most important ways to make it part of our daily educative and pastoral work?
Step 1: A serious study of the Salesian Youth Ministry Framework of Reference by each and every Salesian.
Step 2: As the Youth Ministry Commission, we need to assimilate the Framework of Reference as well as possible and make it work with the support of the Provincial and his council.
Step 3: The Framework of Reference should be put into practice in each and every local community, in each and every work in an integral manner, step by step.
Any other sharing...
We are eagerly awaiting the animation visit of Fr Fabio Attard, the Councillor General for Youth Ministry, who will come next August to preach a retreat and conduct a workshop on the Salesian Youth Ministry Framework (SDB together with the FMA!). We expect from this patient and long term renewal a growth in Salesian apostolic consecration in each Salesian community of Vietnam and Mongolia and in the heart of each Salesian!