(Filippine). The summer camp Salesian Youth Days (SYD) 2018, through the combined efforts of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) FMA-FIL and SYM SDB-FIN, was successfully carried out from April 26 to 29, 2018 at Mary Help of Christians College, Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna, with the theme, "The Millennial YES... Dauntless!" There were 400 youths from the Salesian Family.
As a response to the invitation of the Synod 2018 to reflect more on “Youth, Faith and Discernment,” the celebration of the Salesian Youth Days (SYD) took the same theme as its own. The journey of the SYD ran parallel to the journey of John the Beloved, who was presented by the Pope as the Icon of the Synod 2018. The participants of this event deepened the four main themes of John's most significant encounters with the Lord that were defined through the scriptural statements found in his Gospel. These themes were: Where do you live, Whom do you seek, Come and see, and It is the Lord. Each theme was contextualized in the situation of today's society so that the SYD would be able to look into, penetrate, and help heal the brokenness of the young people. Likewise, the delegates were challenged to be DAUNTLESS like MARY in their faith, so that as they encounter God, they would not fail to say bravely their dynamic YES to His call.
April 26, 2018 was Day 0 of the SYD 2018. The morning of this day was dedicated to the final preparations. The participants of the camp started arriving at noon time. In the afternoon, the welcome program commenced which included a skit, prayer service, and send-off of the participants to the different campsites. There were five campsites which were named after significant biblical icons: Samuel, Jeremiah, David, Daniel, and Esther. Per campsite, the participants had their dinner, prayer, games, opening activities, and the pre-camp module discussion. It was just Day 0 of the camp but it was already filled with rich experiences and learning.
The next day, April 27, was Day 1 of the camp. The day started with a special prayer experience followed by a Bibliodrama or short skit portrayal of the first main theme of the camp "Whom do you seek?" which is a Gospel passage from the book of John. This was then followed by the keynote presentation of Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB on Youth Situation. His talk was a prelude to the four youth-related concurrent sessions which the participants attended: Youth at Risk by Sr. Marivic Sta. Ana, FMA; Media and Generation Y/Z by Sr. Debbie Ponsaran, FMA; Catholic Youth by Stephen Borja; and Mental Health by Allen Jeffrey Saraza. After lunch, another Bibliodrama was performed which was about the "Where do you live?" passage from the book of John. This was followed by a per campsite set of activities and modules. In the late afternoon, the participants attended the Holy Mass which was presided by Rev. Bishop Leopoldo Jaucean, SVD, DD. For the Salesian traditional “Good Night” talk, Sr. Mabel Pilar, FMA, Mother Provincial and Fr. Felino "Ditto" Gueco, SDB, Vice Provincial, were invited in a talk show hosted by the Diego Contreras and Miki Tolentino, the camp emcees. They were asked about topics on youth, their vocation stories, and related matters which they actively responded to and which in turn gained the attention of the participants. In the evening, everyone took part in the Eucharistic adoration in the Marian garden animated by Mr. Stephen Borja of the Episcopal Commission on Youth with the Liturgy Committee. Confessions were also made available during that time.
On the second day of the SYD 2018, the theme “Come and See” from the scriptural statement found in John the Beloved’s Gospel became the center of the day’s activity. The bibliodrama presented by the participants from Mary Help of Christians School Pampanga and Don Bosco Academy Pampanga served as an introduction of this biblical verse. With the objective of the camp to discover and understand the call of God, the second concurrent sessions introduced to the participants the nature, mission, and vision of different vocation calls. The Salesian Family Overview was given by Ms. Jessa dela Peña of SYM SDB-FIN. The participants chose which group to attend to: SDB, FMA, Salesian Cooperators, ADMA, and Past Pupils. Each group of the Salesian Family prepared their Vocation talk and campaign. In the afternoon session, 5 priests celebrated the Mass simultaneously for the 5 camp groups. The celebration was patterned after John 13, Jesus’ Last Supper with His Disciples. The Mass included activities such as Washing of the feet, photo language portraying Jesus choosing His disciples, symbolic surrendering of one’s sinfulness at the foot of the cross and making of a shout-out statement as their personal commitment. To end the day, the Dauntless night was celebrated as the campers were finally introduced to John the Beloved. To celebrate this, each campsite presented their cheers and yells. As a continuation of the shout-out statement, the participants were asked to have a personal commitment using the Social Media. They changed their profile pictures in Facebook using a common frame with their own caption of their commitment as being Dauntless to their own “Yes”.
The Day 3 of the Salesian Youth Days started very early as the delegates left Mary Help of Christians College at 4:30 in the morning to go to Republic Wake Park, Laguna, for the Salubong, a Filipino traditional Easter Sunday pre-dawn ritual or ceremony that reenacts the Risen Christ's meeting with His mother. There were two processions: the men with Christ’s statue and the women with Mary’s statue. The delegates, upon meeting at the center, were led into prayer through a dance by two youths. During the dance, the veil that covered the face of Mary was removed to symbolize the joy of Mary upon seeing her son. This was followed by lively performances from the FMA formands and SDB brothers alongside other paticipants. After which, there was a re-enactment of Jesus’ appearance to His disciples at Lake Galilee by participants from Don Bosco Academy Pampanga. The participants were then led into reflection by Fr. Juvelan Samia, SDB and were asked to write their commitment which served as their share to the table that Jesus prepared for the disciples. After that, the mosaic that the Salesian Brothers made was painted by the delegates. When unraveled, the mosaic appeared to be two big pieces of fish which symbolized the bountiful catch the disciples had after following the command of Jesus. Before leaving the venue, the delegates enjoyed the breakfast by the lake. At 9:00 AM, the participants were back to Mary Help of Christians College. After a short rest, they again gathered at the gymnasium to once again thank Sr. Mabel for her presence throughout the camp. This was then followed by the commitment-making per setting and a short ritual of the return of the icons. The SYD ended with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Juvelan Samia, SDB, the Salesian Youth Movement Coordinator of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The camp was not ended. It was just the beginning of the young people’s journey of discovery of God’s call as a way of life and of responding to the challenge to be dauntless disciples of Jesus committed to prayer and discernment, local and community service, and evangelization.
By Miki Tolentino, Diego Contreras, and Karen Calma