Rome (Italy). It is Pope Francis who interprets the event that animates the International Congress Youth and life choices: educational perspectives, which opened yesterday, September 20, 2018. Pope Francis in his message sent to the participants, hopes that the event “starting from the original contribution of the Salesian educational charism, may represent a significant stage of reflection and concrete help in the various problems related to the youth world, taking into account the most diverse and profound needs related to their human and spiritual growth”.

The certainty of living these three days in a reflection on the original contribution of the Salesian charism, highlighted by the greetings of the Rector Magnifico Fr. Mauro Mantovani, who recalled the words of the Pontiff, reiterated the urgency “of not missing the train of the young people and to nurture their dreams and their hope”. Fr. Mauro Mantovani also recalled the long and complex work of preparation to arrive at the celebration of this event and at the same time, the large number of professionals who accepted the challenge of collaborating for young people.

He is echoed by Sr. Pina Del Core, Principal of the Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, who recalled the main objective of the Congress, “to offer a particular contribution to the study of the youth world around a crucial point: the choices of life”. Sister Pina Del Core wished to underline in particular the complexity in which young people today find themselves in making choices, which inevitably obliges us “to open ourselves to what is utterly new, to allow ourselves to be provoked by listening to them, to confront ourselves with experience, and to help them discover the educational vocation that it is in them”.

Pietro Sebastiani, Italian Ambassador to the Holy See, intervened to wish those present fruitful work by presenting an image of hope to the young people present, encouraging them to follow their dreams, and encouraging adults not to fail in their mission as “heralds of new methods“.

In the same way, Dr. Giovanni Caudo, President of the Municipality III of Rome, presented a unique reading of the pronoun “we”. “We – he explained – is the first-person plural. If we analyze the term, we deduce that we must first put the person at the center and the person in his/her plurality”.

The inaugural address was held by Monsignor Raúl Biord Castillo, Salesian Bishop of La Guaira (Venezuela) who, after having retraced the themes and methodology with which the Synod’s Working Instrument was written – to recognize, interpret, and choose -, he defined it a “Synod with a Salesian flavor”. Mons. Biord Castillo also recalled the great novelty introduced by the Pope in this Synod, which indicated “young people as an authentic ecclesial subject“. This means “to listen to the voice of God in that of the young people because they will be the ones to say what they expect from the Church”. For Monsignor Biord Castillo it is important, in fact, “not to allow ourselves to be taken as adults by the ‘Gulliver complex’, that is, to treat young people as “dwarfs in the face of needs“. Instead they are carriers of great possibilities, they have not turned away from the Church, but it is the Church that has moved away from them. This is why it is essential to “remain among them to build bridges and to overcome the educational and apostolic timidity, that is, to ensure that we really accompany them in making great choices in life, in society, and in politics”.

Today, divided into two sessions, ‘Listening to young people’ and ‘In dialogue to discern’ was introduced by the Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Monsignor Vincenzo Zani, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. In his homily full of ideas and solicitations, Archbishop Zani stressed that “every vocation is a call to a mission in the Church, since its apostolic activity is oriented to create the conditions for listening to the voice of the Master”. The young are thirsty for truth, waiting for us to talk to them about God. Hence the conviction that “the educational perspective is a constant and transversal dimension of the pastoral action of the Church” and that “as educators we are called to teach, to form within, to recognize the action of God in the midst of His people, to grow in a contemplative gaze that looks at the world and acts so that the proclamation and witness of Salvation may reach everyone “.

At the opening of the reflections, the greeting of the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, stressed the cry of the young people to be listened to. “There is no accompaniment without knowledge and there is no knowledge without listening”. She emphasized listening with the heart and deciding to listen for love, giving time for listening, walking with young people. The Salesian charism was born with young people and continues to spread from the young. Become passionate to impassion others.

Today Professor Franco Garelli of the University of Turin, Professor Gennaro Cicchese of the Pontifical Lateran University, and Professor Laura Nota of the University of Padua will alternate. The conclusion of a pastoral nature is entrusted to Monsignor Michele Falabretti, Director of Youth Pastoral Service of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

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