Turin (Italy). On 21 January 2024, the Spirituality Days of the Salesian Family ended in Valdocco, Turin, bringing together about 350 participants from SF Groups from around the world to reflect on Strenna 2024 of the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime.

On 20 January, the penultimate day for the participants was ‘itinerant’. In the morning, after the Eucharistic Celebration in the Basilica, they were able to know and deepen some of the world’s youth experiences.

In the homily of the Holy Mass at the beginning of the day, recalling the Gospel of Mark and the dream of Don Bosco, Fr. Joan Lluís Playà, Central Delegate for the Secretariat for the Salesian Family, stressed the invitation to “vitally renew our conscience as disciples, to be transparency of the traits of the life of Jesus in which we, the Salesian Family, are more sensitive, according to the Identity Card, the Constitutions or Statutes of the respective Groups. We are called to be bearers of the love of Christ Jesus to young people. These narratives are also a clear indication to consider and, if necessary, to rediscover and make own the experience of Christ in Don Bosco and to highlight it in our pastoral mission” (Video).

How do young people today, the main recipients of the apostolic mission of the Salesian Family, make Don Bosco’s dream come true in their environments? This is the question that guided the subsequent meeting with the youth experiences aimed at verifying the actuality of Don Bosco’s dream and at the same time to revive God’s dream for each and the respective Groups of the Salesian Family:

Salesian Missionary Youth Volunteers in Ecuador: it is an experience started in 1982 that involves more than 2,500 young people coordinated by the Salesians of Don Bosco together with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, regulated and animated by an official project of the Salesian Family. The role of volunteers is to help the different priority groups, contributing with their physical and intellectual abilities. Their work contributes, for example, to the education of the Andean and Amazonian communities, to the spread of the Word of God as catechists or to the accompaniment in the care and formation of children and young people in situations of risk and vulnerability (Video).

Project Buzzetti, in Spain, is a program of the Don Bosco Project Foundation in response to homeless boys and girls and young people without resources between 18 and 29 years who are in a situation of disadvantage and social risk. Many of them when they reach the age of majority after finishing their custody at the Centers of Protection or Juvenile Justice, find themselves homeless. Founded in 2009, in the city of Jaén, it currently has 22 sheltered apartments (in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, 3 of which are under international protection) and an accompanying program for young people on the streets, which in 2020 helped more than 90 of them. In November 2015, the Foundation received the Human Rights Award of the Andalusian Association for Human Rights.

From Cambodia is the experience of Chea Samnang, a young man who had no hope for his future, until he met Don Bosco at the Foundation and the Graduate School that trains young Cambodians to have a recognized place in the world of work. Almost 4,000 attend basic training courses, which first of all ensure a full daily meal. Chean got a job at a major car company.

With online link from El Salvador, Sister Ana Beatriz Solito Sánchez, FMA, presented ESSALES a digital work that, starting from Mary Domenica Mazzarello and Don Bosco and a believer’s reading of reality, daily offers formation on Digital Salesian Spirituality to educators so that by strengthening their spirit, they may be an educational presence among children and young people. “Salesianity in a click” is their slogan.

With magic tricks and “magic effects”, Maga Gascar – stage name of Rita Sofia Utzeri – comes from Trapani, Sicily, and is a consecrated member of the Movement Witnesses of the Risen One, student of the Magician Sales. She is a “Magician without Borders”; since 2006, she has offered her shows to support the Salesian missions in Madagascar, bringing the message of equality and human rights. With her shows, made of joy and concrete solidarity, she communicates that “only the gift is magic”.

In the afternoon, the participants divided into language groups, toured the Salesian places meeting witnesses. Some young people from the oratory of Valdocco and the Salesian Youth Movement told how the meeting with Don Bosco transformed their lives. At the FMA House in Piazza Maria Ausiliatrice, 35, where some branches of the Salesian Family were born, some representatives told the dream of the respective SF Group of belonging. In Valsalice where the remains of Don Bosco were laid from 1888 to 1929, and where many Salesians were formed who brought fruits of holiness, martyrdom, and unconditional dedication, Fr. Alessandro Borsello, Director of the SDB Community, and Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, Postulator General, presented the significant places and the Salesian holiness in its dimensions.

Characterized by Salesian joy in the family spirit, was the evening “around the Rector Major“, animated by the Salesian Novices of Colle Don Bosco with songs, dances, and performances of the different Groups, to express gratitude and affection to Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, called to the mission of Cardinal, and the joy of meeting together as a Salesian Family.

Sunday 21 January, the solemn closing Eucharistic Celebration in the Basilica concluded with the photo at the altar of Don Bosco of the representatives of the Groups of the SF with the Rector Major. Fr. Ángel introduced the Letter of Don Bosco 2024 with the mandate to the “beloved sons and daughters of the SF”:

“This is all the legacy I leave you: a dream. The dream that has guided my life. Now it is your dream. What I have had most precious, I give to you. It came from on high and, like all that is born of God, it cannot die. It was my vocation and my mission.”

This is the beginning of the summary letter, translated into the different languages and read in full by Mr. Claudio, of the Community of the Shrine, at the end of the Days, after the work by the affiliated Groups to answer the question: what is God’s dream for the Salesian Family today?

Fr. Joan Lluís Playà explained the passages of the text of the letter, on Saturday, in which the language groups worked intensively on the synthesis of the Days, summarized in twelve pages, revised by the Secretariat to extract the essential points, with the final touch of Fr. Bruno Ferrero, pedagogue and writer, to better reach hearts. (Letter text)

After thanking the young presenters, Giuli Lattanzi and Silvio Monteiro, and the Secretariat of the Salesian Family for the organization and work during the Days, the Rector Major greeted the participants with a final thought.“Returning to our Provinces, we have a whole year to celebrate 200 years of this dream-vision, and we must do it! Today, Don Bosco, 200 years later, has no other hands, no other eyes, no other heart capable of loving young people than ours. I am convinced that today he tells us, ‘Do what I can no longer do today, because today there are so many who need you as in my times’. It is as if the dream was relevant to us again. And more than telling a story, we must above all say how today we can give an authentic, fresh, current response, because God continues to bless the Charism of Don Bosco. The proof of this is all of us and thousands and thousands of young people” (Video).

Photos: Flickr FMA


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