Fr Santi Domínguez, who has been coordinating this project since 2002, explains in detail that “The Italian government offers the chance for young people between 18 and 29 years of age to invest 12 months of their lives in community service, actively participating in the life of communities and institutions at the local, national and international levels. It can be carried out in Italy or abroad, with particular attention to the principles of solidarity, participation and inclusion. Its main objective is community service through the projects that are developed, in our case, in youth centres.”
Coordinated at local level by the Provincial Youth Ministry Delegation, the project of Civil Service Abroad for young Italians is continuously renewed in the SSM Province’s youth centres in Valladolid, León, Villamuriel de Cerrato, Ourense, Santiago de Compostela, Vigo and La Coruña.
On the Italian side, the project is coordinated by Salesiani per il Sociale APS - Federazione SCS/CNOS, a non-profit and social promotion association founded in 1993 and promoted by the Salesian Provinces in Italy. Its fundamental purpose is the integral advancement of minors and young people at risk of social exclusion.
Being an ongoing project, in September the training will take place in Rome and then new volunteers will be placed in SSM youth centres. Other volunteers will be assigned to the other Spanish Salesian Province, the Province of Mary Help of Christians (SMX), as well as the Salesian Sisters’ Spanish Province.
“Although the selection of volunteers is very complicated, given that there are more than 100 volunteers who apply every year, and all the bureaucratic part must be completed for the Italian ministry, we can really say that it is a very Salesian project” Domínguez continues. In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis tells us that we are called to update our pastoral care starting from the needs of the young, especially the poorest. Challenges are made to be overcome. And we are realistic, but without losing joy, boldness and confident dedication. Let us not be robbed of our missionary strength.”
Finally, the Salesian concludes: “We have been offering young Italians an experience of service, learning and formation in our youth centres for 20 years. A great wealth for them and also for us.”