Rome (Italy). On December 27, 2019, at the Generalate of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Rome, the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, presented to the Salesian Family Strenna 2020 “Good Christians and Honest Citizens”, based on the Gospel Verse, “May Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Present in the auditorium were the FMA Mother General, Sr. Yvonne Reungoat, and the General Council, Fr. Filiberto González, General Councilor for Social Communications, SDB and FMA from the houses in Rome, the Superior of Mother of the Church Preprovince (RMC), and the Provincial of St. John Bosco Province (IRO), the Novices of the International Novitiates in Rome, members of the Salesian Family Groups: Salesian Cooperators, Past Pupils of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Witnesses of the Risen One, Cançao Nova, Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians, Don Bosco Volunteers.
After the initial greetings, the Councilor for the Salesian Family, Sr. Maria Luisa Miranda, gave the word to the Rector Major who introduced the video made by the Social Communications Dicastery and by ANS and the Communications Team of the Southern SDB Province – IME Communications. Taped in the city of Foggia, the video focuses on a huge mural representing the face of Don Bosco painted by the SDB on a tall building of the city of Foggia with this meaning, “Our Father Don Bosco looks at the youth of the world through the young people of the City of Foggia”.
“Go out and meet.”. “Because young people are calling today”. “Like Don Bosco, we open a breach in the wall and listen to their voices”. “There is only one way to change the world: Education. A good, complete education that opens the door of life and the door of heaven”. These are some of the phrases that echo in the intertwining stories that give voice to young people.
Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime illustrated the fundamental points of the Strenna enclosed in two nuclei: Good Christians and Honest Citizens, referring to a study of Fr. Peter Braido in which he highlights how in Don Bosco, the binomial “good Christians and honest citizens” was always present with different expressions according to his listeners. “A way to help the young live as good Christians and honest citizens is that of ourselves being women and men of faith, witnessing to Jesus in our way of living, educating to silence and then to listening to God who speaks”.
“How is it possible to speak of good Christians where this religion is a minority or where it almost does not exist?,” was the question asked of the Rector Major. He responded by giving the example of Fr. Cimatti, a great missionary capable of intercultural dialogue, who with his musical compositions knew how to interpret the Japanese culture, so much so that he was recognized by the local authorities as a true Japanese. “This speaks of the ability to discover how to say God where His name is never said. Salesian Spirituality has characteristics that are very beautiful for today’s world: respect, closeness, listening, attention to the other, accompaniment of the young in respecting their times, marvelous elements to build bridges with those who do not live the Christian faith…An encounter is always possible, a human one that opens other doors”.
To form honest citizens means to educate the young to responsible citizenship and to social involvement. “At the basis of the Our Father there is the ‘politics of justice, of solidarity, of reconciliation, of respect, of equality, and of the protection of the most vulnerable.” It is politics that seeks above all to bring about changes in the life of the young. Every day thousands of young people are in the houses of our Salesian Family, of our presences. The question is, ‘Do we all understand clearly what kind of citizen we want to form? What young people, with what vision of justice and equality, of help for the poorest, of politics that looks at the poor, as the Gospel says, have we formed?
Strenna 2020 gives the opportunity to face some aspects like political commitment, freedom from corruption, migration, care of the common home, defense of human rights, especially those of minors, that the Rector Major suggested for study by the Salesian Family Groups.
At the end of the presentation, there was a time for dialogue and questions in the Assembly.
Mother General expressed gratitude and concluded by saying, “The theme chosen is an essential synthesis of our mission. It is very vast and requires of us listening, study, discernment together…As Salesian Family, our riches are the possibility of forming an Educating Community where adults and the young walk together, an environment in which together we can change something in the world. We are invited to unite our strengths as Salesian Family and to involve many other people in this journey so that we can seek to be faithful today to this mission that the Church entrusts to us and the young expect of us”.