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RMG – Salesians discuss "Accompaniment and Affectivity"
(ANS – Rome) – When interviewed or participating in surveys and studies, young people around the world say that their priorities in life are love, family, relationships … But in today’s society, so fluid in all its ties and marked by precariousness, children often lack the educational cues and reference models among adults that would enable them to achieve or fulfil their wishes and ambitions. To try to answer to this challenge, the Department for Youth Ministry has organized a seminar on “Accompaniment and Affectivity”, which started Monday 25th and ends today, Friday 29th, at the Salesian Central Office in Rome.
The seminar is part of a long journey begun by the Department already through 2008-2014, with a series of seminars on the topic of Salesian spiritual accompaniment – in which the theme of accompaniment from the charismatic and pastoral point of view were addressed – and then continued in this six-year term (2014-2020) with a seminar on prayer.
On this specific occasion, the seminar’s 57 participants – mostly Salesians, but also lay people and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, from all over the world – reflected together and discussed the issue of affective education for young people and adolescents and on how the concrete reality of youth affectivity must be met, lived and experienced in pastoral journeys or paths.
In the development of the seminar, a first anthropological reading, curated by Fr Selvam Sahaja, SDB, university professor in Nairobi, Kenya, helped to identify the challenges for education in love starting from the perspective of Social Sciences.
The second day was followed by a reflection on the person of the youth carer in affect education. The session, led by prof. Alessandro Ricci of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS), focused on the themes of maturity and useful skills for those who carry out this precious service.
The reflection then continued, thanks to the contribution of two speakers – Marlene Cauchi and Jeanine Balzan – on the theme of intimacy, with particular regard to those challenges that young people face around the theme of love and sexuality.
And finally, with the report by Fr Eunan McDonell, Provincial of Ireland, the relationship between love and freedom in the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales was explored, thus observing the “Salesian perspective” on education for love.
Furthermore, among the specific workshops, other important topics have been touched upon for those who work side by side with young people in emotional growth – gender theory, homosexuality, family education … – as well as other aspects relevant to personal formation – with a session on “Transformative Learning”.
“This field, with its complexity, asks us Salesians to be not only aware of this complexity, but also to be competent to understand the various messages that our young people encounter. In this sense, our walk with the young must find us as true educators, who gradually help them find meaning and take courage in their integral growth,” concluded Fr Fabio Attard, General Councilor for Youth Ministry.