Salesian Youth Ministry seeks to be on the side of the young because it believes in the worth of each individual, has confidence in them, trusts in the power of education and the wisdom of Faith. Working with the young, Salesian Youth Ministry believes in the possibility of creating a more just and loving world.
When St. John Bosco founded the Salesians in 1859 his mission was clear and simple: to be a friend to, and advocate for young people, especially the poorest and most marginalised among them. Wherever, the Salesians work and live, our vision and mission is the same: to be a friend to the young, following in the footsteps of John Bosco and inspired by the love of Christ the Good Shepherd.
Fr. John Bosco devoted his entire life to finding practical and creative means of responding to the chaotic lives of young people of Turin during the 19th century. Turin was a city dealing with the aftermath of war, growing political unrest and social and economic uncertainties.
In one of the poorest suburbs of Turin, John Bosco developed a framework for his youth work known as the ‘Oratory Model’. This model still guides the practices and structures of Salesian youth ministry today. At its heart is a dynamic approach to understanding and educating the young that has become known as the Salesian Preventive System.
Every Salesian Centre is to be for its members:
o A home that welcomes and nurtures
o A parish that invites reflection and seeks meaning in a Christian context
o A school that educates and empowers
o A playground where friends are made and life is celebrated
The Salesian Preventive System is the force behind Salesian ministry. It has a vision of the young person as one who is ‘formed’ in the image of Christ, and is helped to grow further into that image through the experience of the ‘Oratory Model’. The starting point is the young person who is respected and loved in who they are. The role of the youth minister/educator is that of the one who accompanies the young and works with his/her fellow workers to provide the environment that enables the young to experience what it takes to make their own life journey. Salesian Youth Ministry is about mediating God’s love to the young and is done in the context of relationships built within a community, family or team experience.
Don Bosco had a well defined aim in his work with young people; it was to help them to become Good Christians and Honest Citizens. The Preventive System defines both the attitudes and the values that allow this to happen:
o Reasonableness in all relationship
o Respect for the spiritual in every person and Christian values
o Loving Kindness leading to compassion, charity and gentleness in all actions
In Ireland, Salesians are involved in school, care homes, university hostels, parishes, agricultural education, chaplaincy, spirituality centres, retreats and prayer, the social media, drug rehabilitation and non formal education.
The youth ministry team, drawn from each of these sectors has set itself the mission to:
work to build a sense of unity and collaboration across current Salesian ministries. We will support and strengthen these ministries in their Salesian identity while recognizing that the needs of young people can change and evolve. As part of the wider Church mission we will seek to understand the call of Don Bosco to be educators to the faith for the young of contemporary Ireland.