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Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Don Bosco was acutely aware that God called him for a unique mission on behalf of the poor young people. God had bestowed singular gifts upon Don Bosco and was asking him to dedicate himself entirely to the young: “I have promised God that I would give of myself to my last breath for my poor boys.” (C 1). This mission to which the Lord had called Don Bosco is characterised by its focus on the young, especially the poorest of them (C 26)…“For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready even to give my life.” (C 14). But together with his field of work Don Bosco sensed the unique purpose of his mission: to reveal to the poor youngsters the love of God. He also discerned the motivational principles underlying a style of ministry suited to this end: the approach of the Good Shepherd. Don Bosco’s whole life was a strongly unified life project: “He took no step, he said no word, he took up no task that was not directed to the saving of the young.” (C 21).
Encouraged and impelled by our Constitutions, We the Salesians of the Province of Chennai, together have searched and drawn out guidelines for our youth ministry. This process has taken into consideration the OPP that we had drawn in the past and the basic frame of reference recommended by the congregation in the back ground of the four dimensions of Youth Ministry.
The Vision of the Chennai Province
We, the Salesians of Don Bosco,of the Province of St. Thomas the Apostle, are committed to carry out our Founder St. John Bosco’s apostolic mission in the Church: to be the signs and bearers of the love of God for the young and the poor. Open to the good cultural values of our land, and following the values of the Gospel in the Salesian way, we, along with the members of the great Salesian Family and our lay collaborators, educate and evangelize, the young and the poor, to build a world that is sustainable, just and humane and thus contribute to the building up of the Kingdom of God.
The Youth Situation
Young people are a major human resource for development, and are key agents of innovation and positive social change. One fifth of the population in South Asia is between the age of 15 and 24. India alone has some 200 million young people accounting for 32 % of the total population. This is the largest number of young people ever to make their transition into adulthood, both in South Asia and in the world as a whole. Not addressing the issues young people face today can result in adverse economic, social and political consequences. Governments and policy makers across the region are looking at youth issues, mainly education and employment, and their impact on the countries’ development.
Unemployment: Youth unemployment is an acute problem. Young adults account for half of the unemployed. They are also six times more likely to be jobless than older workers. One reason for such large unemployment rates is because formal job growth hasn't kept up with economic growth in most countries. Another reason is a mismatch in skills between those demanded by employers and those acquired in schools. Lack of job opportunities for young people constrains further economic growth for South Asian countries.
Education: Literacy rates among young people are low in all countries. On average, only 62% of young women can read and write (compared to 77% of young men). These statistics make South Asia the region with the largest gender gap in literacy in the world. The younger generation is educated compared to the older youth which is evident from the following data: The literacy rate of 15–19 years of youth is 76%, whereas the literacy level of 20-24 age groups is 67% and the older youth in the age group of 25–34 is 56%. [statistics Education Indian youth portal]
High Risk Behaviours: Knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases and safe reproductive health practices is poor among the youth in this region. Yet, young people are increasingly engaging in high risk behaviours. 40% report having unprotected sex. Half of all abortions are performed in unsafe conditions. 50% of HIV infections are believed to be in the 15-24 age groups. Tobacco use is becoming common among the youth. A survey of school students in India found that 17.5% of 13-15 year-old students used tobacco in some form or the other. Alcoholism is also another major problem among the young.
Young women: Young women face additional problems. Many are malnourished. More than 80% of adolescent girls suffer from anaemia. Social pressures force young women into early marriage and child bearing. Teen mothers are twice as likely as older women to die of pregnancy-related causes. Their children are at higher risk of illness and death. Girls and young women are increasingly becoming victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Girls in rural areas are especially vulnerable.
Target Groups of Our Services
The Chennai Province has identified the following special target groups as a result of scientific study of the situations. The target groups are inclusive in their terms regarding gender, caste and creed.
Rural poor youth
Young at Risk (YaR)
Socially & economically backward families
Uneducated and unemployed youth
HIV affected & infected
Night School children
Unorganized youth (Migrant Youth)
Priorities of the Salesian Province of Chennai (INM) 2017 - 2023
Basic Frame of Reference
The Youth Ministry in our province is carried out in the following manner. This serves as a basic frame of reference in all our activities, thus expressing our uniqueness in catering to the young in Southern Tamil Nadu.
The four Dimensions are animating bodies in the Province (Education & Culture, Education to Faith, Social Experience, Vocational Guidance). As recommended by the congregation, they at the holistic formation of the young. Each dimension has a Salesian who is responsible and is assisted by a team. The Dimensions plan and facilitate Province and local level animations with respect to their dimensions. The Dimensions aim to empower the Salesians, lay collaborators and youth in all the sectors through their animation programmes. They ensure that the dimensional elements run through every sector of the youth ministry in the Province. They network with state – national – diocesan (regional) level animation bodies. Although these Dimensions are described separately, it is important to remember that they form a unity. This holistic synthesis is a characteristic of Salesian Youth Ministry.