Nigeria - ANN Province Concludes 1st Sym Congress #Symann & Celebrates 40 Years of Salesian Presence in Nigeria

21 November 2022

Lagos, Nigeria – Novembrer 2022 - The Salesian youths in Nigeria are not strangers or first-time participants of the annual Salesian Youth Ministry Congress (SYM), as evidenced by an exciting edition hosted by the Mary Help of Christians community, Akure last September. 2022 came with a new ‘bang’ though, as Nigeria and Niger Republic become the ANN Province. This meant that the 2022 Salesian Youth Congress was the first edition for new Province. Joyfully, the edition also coincided with the celebration of the 40 years of Salesian presence in Nigeria, after Frs Gabriel Wade, Italo Spagnolo and Br. John Patrucco began the mission in 1982, in Akure, Ondo State. It only seemed proper that the anniversary be celebrated at the first Salesian point of entry, hence, Akure community being the host again for the youth congress. The congress started on the 10th of November, 2022, with youths arriving from the other 9 communities, although their respective youth directors had arrived earlier, for meetings with the ANN Province Youth Ministry Delegate. The congress was officially declared open that night at the Opening Mass, graced by the youths, Priests, and lay faithful. Friday the 11th involved aerobics, cleanup, breakfast, and three symposium sessions. The first session by Dr. Akinwumi Akinnuoye, a consultant psychiatrist was about the keys to maintaining mental well-being in youths. The second session with Rev. Fr. Fidelis Agbara SDB, the youth director of Mary Help of Christians, Iju Lagos, involved a talk about the 40 years of Salesian presence in Nigeria and what next. The third and final symposium came after lunch and it involved the theme of the congress – “As the yeast in today’s human family: The lay dimension in the family of Don Bosco”. This was taken by Rev. Fr. Solomon Oballa SDB of St John Bosco Community, Ondo town.

The day proceeded with indoor games, evening prayer and the usual rosary recitation walk. After supper, delegates, youths, and directors present all adorned various traditional attires for the cultural night. It was a colourful affair and it was graced by Rev. Fr. Jorge Mario Crisafulli SDB, the Provincial of the Province and the Mr and Miss AFOP 2022. Each community had to present cultural dances or songs or dramas or parades, in various Nigerian cultural attires. You could spot the Tiv, Bini, Yoruba, Efik, Igbo, Fulani, etc cultures, duly represented.

By Saturday the 12th of November, the morale was already high as the youths threw in their energy to rigorously compete in various sports available at the SYM Olympics. There were relay races, short and long-distance races, sack race, egg race, eating competition, etc. Each community had their identifying colour and location, as they sang, danced, and cheered on their athletes. After Siesta, the youths gathered in the church with Rev. Fr. Joshua Pilaku SDB -the youth director of Blessed Cyprian Iwene Tansi community, Koko, Kebbi State, for the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by confessions with the various priests stationed around the premises. During the evening prayer for that day, the Provincial officially installed the new Rector of the Mary Help of Christians, Akure community; Rev. Fr. Matthew Adetiloye SDB. The day was concluded with a dinner party, where everyone looked resplendent in their respective dinner attires. Communities gave presentations, and beautiful upcoming talents also took to the stage to entertain all and sundry. The night ended with the announcement of the year’s Olympics winner and adorning the winners of each sport, their medals. The youths of Akure community took their jubilations to the stage after being declared the winner, and the night ended with shouts and dances of happiness in the air.

The congress was concluded at a 9am Mass on Sunday, the 13th of November by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo – Most Rev. Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, where Akure is located. After appreciating the Salesians for their love and hard work for the past 40 years, he encouraged the youth to walk in the ways of the Salesians guiding them because the church would never fall nor fail. The host of 2023 SYM Congress was announced to be the Community of SS. Aloysius Versiglia and Callistus Caravario, Ibadan.

After the closing shots with the Bishop, Provincial, Delegates, Directors, and youths, the congress officially came to a close and each community departed with joyful hearts and new friendships formed.


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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