As I return from the National Conference for Catholic Youth Ministers (NCCYM) held in New Orleans this past weekend, the plane ride offers a great chance to reflect on the experience as a “first time attendee”.
[cincopa AkGA1bqVnUze]Going into the conference, I really didn’t know what to expect. Working for the Salesian Lay Missioners at Salesian Missions, the only conferences that I have attended typically were related solely to the promotion of lay mission/volunteer work. Up until the addition of the Salesian Domestic Volunteer program, I was usually the lone representative of the Salesians. I knew the people and they knew me.
In a collaborative effort with the western provinces of SDBs and FMAs, the Salesians offered great resources to almost 2500 youth ministers from around the country and world (I say “world” as I met a youth minster there from England). These resources included: information on the Gospel Roads program, Salesian Domestic Volunteers, Salesian Lay Missioners, books on the lives of Salesian saints, inspirational books, Don Bosco posters, chapel sponsorship program, and “How to become Saints, Salesian style” cards that was put together by the western province.
In working at the booth each day, all we had to do was ask people if they were “interested in FREE resources to use in their youth ministry program”. It was amusing to see their ears perk up when they heard the word “free”! Once we started talking with them and they learned about the Salesians and the programs we offer, they found it hard to believe that we could have such a variety of programs. And the more youth ministers I talked with, the more excited I became!
In reflecting on the weekend, I think the conference as well as the CYM meeting was a self-realization that we have SO much to offer those who work with youth and young adults. At points throughout the weekend, I found myself giving thanks to Don Bosco for following his dream. After speaking with each youth minister they would say “thanks”. It really wasn’t me they were thanking, but all those who have helped and continue to help realize what Don Bosco started with Bartholomew Garelli.