It was an important moment on 9th January 2024 when the salesians of Don Bosco working in Uganda, their collaborators, and members of the salesian family groups present in Uganda gathered together at Bombo-Namaliga to read and discuss together the content of the two important documents published by the Congregation’s Youth Ministry Department. Those documents are: The “Salesian Oratory-Youth Centre” and “the parish and the shrine entrusted to the salesians”.  It was really so nice to see all houses represented at this joint formation meeting for salesians and their collaborators, to see confreres coming along with a big number of collaborators and members of the salesian family.

The program started at 9:30am with the introduction of the participants, followed by the presentation of the contents of the two documents which was done by father Henry Ssemakula sdb, the salesian youth ministry coordinator in Uganda, and father Jean Paul Ndayikengurutse sdb, Rector of the salesian community of Buterere (Burundi).

The Salesian Oratory-Youth Centre document intends to offer a broad and up-to-date understanding of the Oratory-Youth Centre. The document reminds us of the value of the oratory in Salesian life. As Don Bosco made the oratory the center of his activities, a salesian or anyone who engaged in the Salesian mission has to be aware of the reality of the oratory and create in him /her the Oratorian spirit. The document reminds us that the oratory does not refer only to an institution, but to a model of educative- pastoral youth environment for the various scenarios of the Salesian mission. The Oratory is a home, a parish, a school and a playground. The Oratory needs an Educative-Pastoral Community which is made up of different people who animate its projects. The Educative pastoral community has as its center the religious Salesian community and the young people as its first priority. At the oratory, everything must be educative using the preventive approach. The oratory has to be an open house that welcomes young people; the sacrament of presence (salesian assistance) and the concrete operating regulations are necessary.

The parish and the shrine entrusted to the salesians present the original nature, the people involved in our mission, the vision and the organization of parishes and shrines entrusted to salesians. The parish is Salesian due to the community style it promotes, the ecclesial experience it lives and the witness of the religious community. It is “Salesian” because of its relationship of communion with the local Church, the support and development of groups and associations, its involvement and favorable integration in the local area and the preferential and priority of attention for young people. We live the parish ministry as a true Salesian apostolate to the extent that we remain faithful to our mission and make Don Bosco’s charism relevant. The parish entrusted to the Salesians, like the Salesian charism, is characterized not only by some “spiritual” features, but it evangelizes according to the style and spirit of the Salesian Educative-Pastoral Project.

After the presentation of the contents of these two documents, the participants were divided into three groups in order to read, and discuss these document in depth. After the group work, a sumptuous lunch prepared by the community of Bombo was enjoyed by all who were present. At 3 :00 pm all participants gathered once again in the main hall to share the fruits of their group work. This activity was concluded by the speeches of father Augustin César HABANABAKIZE sdb, the provincial delegate for youth ministry. He reminded those present of the importance of the Educative-Pastoral Community and the Salesian Educative-Pastoral Project in our salesian mission. He called upon communities who do not have it yet in a proper way to draw it up  and make it functional because it ensures continuity in our works. He ended by thanking everyone for having participated in this meeting. There was a word from the Rector father Thomas Cyprian Oloya and the day was concluded by a final blessing given by father Joseph Mwebe sdb, parish  priest of Bombo-Namaliga at 4:30pm.

Jean Damascène TUYISHIME, sdb