Makati City, the Philippines, 24 September 2017—This years’ Salesian Youth Animators’ & Leaders’ Assembly (SYALA 2017) gathered 300 leaders and animators of the various clubs, sodalities and youth groups from various Salesian settings in the Philippines North Province. The two-day event was an occasion for the youth leaders to sharpen their skills, foster stronger bonds for collaboration, and celebrate their commitment and mission as a movement. SYALA 2017 theme comes from John 12:23, “I will draw everyone to myself” well-captured and encapsulated in the word, CONVERGE.
In the morning of September 23, the Drum & Lyre Band of the nearby Saint John Bosco Parish welcomed the participants. After the energy-filled and ecstatic opening program, Ms Patricia Evangelista (@patevangelista) shared stories straight from her experience as a news reporter on the night shift, covering ‘the dead of the night’ in the on-going ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines. The stories put the assembly into a somber. They listened intently to stories of real horror and utter violence, but love and hope was not farfetched. Patricia challenged them to take a stand, to extend help based on one’s capacity, to speak and not succumb to silence. “Our silence is also consent.” She shared stories of the church documenting the violence and providing assistance to the victims, and how this gives a glimmer of hope in the blinding darkness.
In the afternoon, the participants took part in capacity building workshops that aimed at developing the benchmarks set in DANGKAL (DAtos Ng Galing, Kakayahan At Lakas—The National Standards and Benchmarking Tool for Catholic Youth Ministry in the Philippines). The evening began with an intimate meeting with the Lord. A Grand Eucharistic adoration united the participants in prayer and thanksgiving. Concurrent was an opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. A showcase of the participants’ giftedness in the field of performing arts was featured over dinner.
During the program, the Salesian Youth Movement launched its search for two pilgrims to the World Youth Day 2019 Panama. The pilgrims of the WYD 2015 Krakow shared their experience.
Fr. Anthony Paul Bicomong SDB, the provincial of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco in the Philippine North Province, gave the participants some inspirational words and a challenge to not let our morals be disturbed by what society thinks is passé. Afterwards, he blessed and sent off the SYM-FIN pilgrims to the National Youth Day 2017 Zamboanga.
CFC-FFL Singles for Life and Youth for Life led a worship concert where the participants had the chance to express their love for Jesus through songs and dance. Fr. Joebeth Vivo SDB, FIN Salesian Commission on Youth Ministry Delegate, capped the day with the traditional Good Night Talk. He left the participants with a thought inspired by the Salesian youth in the war-torn Aleppo, Syria.
The second day was dedicated for the meetings of the various clubs, sodalities, and youth groups. The meetings aimed at enforcing the thrust of the SYM this school year, organization and identity. After lunch, they came together of the Holy Mass. Fr. Jayson David SDB, FIN Vocation Promoter presided over the celebration. After the homily, the SYM Coordinating Council, and the Youth Animators and Leaders recited the prayer of commitment as leaders of the Salesian Youth Movement.
by Jessa Mariel Dela Peña