Reliance on Young People

There is a risky side to Salesian ministry. While the corporate world sees important tasks entrusted to the most competent and trustworthy of the team, Salesian ministry tend to share responsibility and opportunities with young people. While the corporate world sees this as foolish, Salesians consider it a fundamental part of their vocation.

In my eleven years of professed Salesian life I have experienced the anxiety of tapping young people to do serious tasks. It is in my personality to strive for perfection and to minimize mistakes as much as possible. Yet in running things in the offices assigned to me, sometimes I cannot help but ask young people to help out too, and sometimes giving them crucial tasks that have no room for errors.

On review, I consider such trust as a gamble. Youth comes with folly. Youth is full of mistakes and errors, sometimes inadvertent, sometimes out of immaturity. It is interesting however that in the recent thrusts of the Rector Major, working with young people became a fundamental requirement of our vocation. It is not just that we work for them but that our youth ministry involves the young, even if it risks the “success” and the “perfection” of the work.

On the outside St. John Bosco seemed like a high stakes gambler. He took risks where others won’t. To others he looked foolish. But for this great man the decisions he made were not blind decisions based on luck and chance, they were acts of faith. He believed in young people and saw in them the potential to disrupt the status quo, to shine through the preconceived ideas of immaturity and foolishness. Yes, those things remain in youth, but St. John Bosco saw more the goodness that is waiting to gush forth.

I think I am rather the gambler than the man-of-faith. Despite my admiration for our father and founder, I still find myself anxious, but even so, I share my responsibilities and offer opportunities to young people. Honestly it is not an act of faith but a paying-it-forward. I too had a share of opportunities which on hindsight I saw was not well-deserved on my part, but my Salesian teachers and mentors entrusted to me. Because of that, I grew leaps and bounds because I was offered something that could allow me to leapfrog ahead and beyond.

While I do wish that all the activities and tasks that I do are according to my taste and standard, there are indeed times when I have to do an act of faith – that is to put down my perfectionism and allow myself to be Salesianized by the example of St. John Bosco and the Rector Major’s thrust. In working with young people, Salesians have to develop that level of trust and confidence in them. And for many times now, that act of faith has born fruit. I have several times been surprised by the giftedness of young people in whom we trust and rely on.

Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact uhere.

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