CHILE: Salesian missionaries launch forums for youth to discuss growing economic and social changes in the country
(MissionNewswire) In response to growing calls in Chile for the government to bring about social and economic change, Salesian missionaries across the country are holding events to learn more from youth and give them an opportunity to have their voices heard. Youth with the Salesian Youth Movement, in collaboration with youth from the Catholic church in Santiago, have created a space to reflect on the social phase Chile is going through as well as on the causes, consequences and future prospects—and above all—on the role young Catholics play and shall play in the entire process.
On Nov. 16, a meeting was held under the theme of “The Chile we dream of” to encourage dialogue and reflection among youth. The topics discussed included new pastoral care for today’s Chile, the socio-political commitment of young Christians, the importance of prayer, ongoing formation as a key to the maturity of faith, and opening spaces for dialogue and discernment together. All of the topics will continue to be discussed at later meetings.
At the meeting, there were also testimonies shared by youth about their experiences, dreams and plans as they continue walking in the construction or reconstruction of the country.
This broad movement also involves other Salesian centers in the country. On Nov. 9, the Salesian house in Alameda brought together more than 400 youth for a meeting called “The Chile that I desire” in which the origin and forms of solving the current social-political crisis were discussed.
Salesian missionaries in the city of La Serena also set aside days for reflection. Educators addressed topics with the students in their classrooms and developed an emotional containment plan, wherein everyone could express their feelings and reflect on the social changes.
“Chile has awoken to find itself facing the unjust life we have lived, on a political, economic, health and educational level. We have to bring out the positive side, not remain with the negative side,” explained Guido Torres, a Salesian religion teacher and pastoral secretary. “As Don Bosco thought for all his Salesian Family, we have trust in our young people, protagonists of our education, to make them good Christians and to lead them to be upright citizens. We must pray for what is happening, for God to help us and strengthen us, so that Chile is a paradise where we can live in peace and equality.”
Salesian missionaries in the region provide primary and secondary education as well as vocational skills training so poor youth are able to gain the skills needed for employment. In addition, families are able to access Catholic services and have a communal place to meet and connect with their friends and neighbors.
According to the World Bank, Chile has a fairly low poverty rate of 14.4 percent. However, Chile struggles with high rates of income and education inequality. Salesian missionaries working in Chile focus their efforts on providing education and social services to poor and at-risk youth. At Salesian schools, universities and youth centers throughout the country, youth can access an education as well as the skills and resources necessary to break the cycle of poverty.
As a result of the vocational and technical education provided by Salesian programs, Chilean youth are more likely to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.
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Salesian Missions – Chile
World Bank – Chile