Formation of VMY Animators

The Vincentian Marian Youth (VMY) Association in Slovakia currently has more than 1,200 members who not only meet at various events such as summer camps, national meetings, Vince-Olympics and sports days but also organize activities in their local communities. This is where the need for leaders is greatest. The Sisters occasionally visit these groups and encourage the members but the bulk of the service to the children rests with the young leaders.  

Young people learn to work with children and to form themselves in what they call “Animacours” which are directed by a Vincentian Priest in collaboration with a Daughter of Charity. There are currently six Animacours, each with its own Vincentian Priest and Sister. The Animacours, as a whole, consists of 10 weekend meetings. The first six focus on the formation of the young people themselves (they start at around the age of 14) and cover the following themes: relationships (in the family, between friends), being yourself, physical, mental and spiritual life of a person, being a boy, being a girl, psychology of sin, and vocation. We believe that it is important to focus on their personal development first, so that they know not just the theory on how to prepare meetings and work with children but also, above all, that they are good persons and Christians who will pass on right values to children.

The last four sessions are devoted to practical themes for leader, namely, Theory and Methodology of Accompanying Children and the Youth, A Day in the Life of a Leader and finishing with Ways of Understanding Holy Scriptures; a final exam caps the sessions wherein leaders present what they have learnt during these weekends.

During the Animacours, participants are given various practical tasks: preparing a meeting (sometimes even “trying it out” on the children and receiving feedback afterwards), reading the biography of Saint Vincent and preparing a short reflection on it, or helping someone in their neighborhood. As well as lectures, the Animacours include group work and sharing, games, daily celebration of the Eucharist, rosary prayers and evening adoration, which are much appreciated. At the end of the course, participants receive an animator’s certificate.

The “Animazlet” is also part of the training. This is an event organized for current VMY leaders and those involved in the VMY preparation process. This event is intended as a an encouragement for active members of the VMY, but at the same time it aims to pass on in a creative way certain skills that are important for carrying out the work of a leader and encouraging spiritual growth and for the mission of leadership itself. 

In addition, young people have the opportunity to take part in a training called VIP, which consists of three weekend gatherings a year. These meetings are attended by local community leaders and other active youth workers. The thematic aim of the course is to develop and consolidate basic skills in working with young people, divided conceptually into three areas: leading, informing and encouraging.

As Sisters, we are very grateful to the young people who invest their time, energy and talents in their formation and that of the people entrusted to them, so that together, with the Blessed Virgin, we can follow Jesus.

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