Rome (Italy). On 19 January 2024, in the second of the Spirituality Days of the Salesian Family in Valdocco, Turin, the work began with the Round Table on the Strenna.

After the video summary of the previous day, another Salesian Family Group was presented: the Salesian Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded by the Salesian Bishop Msgr. Joseph Cognata, Servant of God.

Then the speakers of the Round Table were called on stage (Video). The moderator, Tullio Lucca, began by explaining the theme: “we will seek to reflect on how the Dream is foundational for the Salesian Family and how it was important for Don Bosco.”

“Genesis of a vocation” is the theme dealt with by Fr. Bruno Ferrero, SDB, Director of the Salesian Bulletin who, with the liveliness and passion that distinguish him, identified some aspects of the dream: the joy that comes from the response that is given to life.  “If when you get up in the morning you are happy with what you have to do, you have the right vocation.”  It is the sign from on High recognized by John in the dream, continuous assistance to the poor and drifting young people, the presence of the Teacher, a mother and a woman who accompanies him with tenderness and provides him with a method.  “Not with beatings, but with meekness” and shows him a mission, the field where he is work. “Make yourself humble, strong, robust (resilient).”

And again: the recipients – “goats, dogs, cats, bears” – in the streets, in the peripheries; a Work, which is indicated to him when he is “oppressed and sick”, a “beautiful white church.”  “When you enter the Basilica remember always: you are entering the dream of Don Bosco,” the testament of Don Bosco, which “will serve to make known how God Himself has guided everything at all times. It will serve my children of pleasant memories.” With emotion, Fr. Bruno concluded, “It is a wonderful thing how the Constitutions of the Salesians begin. It is an act of faith, ‘with a sense of humble gratitude, we believe that the Society of St. Francis de Sales was born not only from a human project, but from the initiative of God’… and this is the dream.”

Dr. Emilce Cuda, Argentine, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission of Latin America at the Holy See, offered a theological reading of “God’s dreams, for an abundant life for our young people” putting in rapport the dream of Don Bosco with the social Magisterium of Pope Francis. “Pope Francis says that ‘we must organize hope’ and it is not easy to understand, if we do not think that God’s dream for all of us is to be in ‘imago Dei’, that is, to have a divine life.” Starting from her experience, she then stressed the need to listen to the dreams of the young people.

“God’s dream is that everyone, everyone, everyone – as Pope Francis says – can have a dream and make it concrete. What is the dream? Dignity, a worthy life. This is why Pope Francis calls us to organize the dreams of our young people, to organize hope, a supernatural theological virtue that has the possibility of leading us to be ‘imago Dei’.” Dr Cuda left these questions: “Today in the world, who organizes the hope of our young people? Are we sure that we are the ones? Are we sure that we listen to the true dreams of our young people and work to organize this hope, or are there other voices – technology, virtuality, consumerism, individualism – that take their dreams and organize them in another direction?”.

The word then passed to Fr. Rafael Bejarano, SDB Colombian, of the Salesian Youth Ministry Sector, who spoke of an “institutional work”, in synergy between the Groups of the Salesian Family, which operates a change in society and in its culture, because “The dream is always local; it is there on the ground where we concretize these dreams.”

Fr. Rafael then expressed the institutional challenges to respond, as a Salesian Family, at this time, through humility, which is manifested today in social friendship, or “sense the other, think about the other, establish healthy and inclusive relationships that lead us to give energy to the societies in which we live as spaces of human warmth,” which in Salesian terms translates into accompaniment. He also expressed the need to “be strong”, to strengthen their own institutionality by virtue of the responsibility that God entrusts to defend the dignity of the most vulnerable, to free themselves from the dis-integration that comes from the ego and improvisation, that is, from not acting together with a common project.

“Be robust” is the last point during which he spoke of synodality. “We must walk together to guarantee this dignity as an institution by taking care of the tools, processes and the awareness of being a community for the salvation of all. (…) The Salesian Family, being an active part of the Church, assumes synodality and configures all its works through the Pastoral Educational Communities (CEP) according to this identity of communion.”

Mrs. Blažka Merkac, from Slovenia, of the World Council of Salesian Cooperators, recounted her experience with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, met at a camp on Laura Vicuña, her work in the office of Youth Ministry, and the importance that “being with and for young people” has assumed for her.

“Now I work with young people with special needs. My main guideline is the thought of Don Bosco, ‘In every young person there is a point accessible to the good, and it is the primary duty of the educator to discover that sensitive cord of the heart to bring out the best of the young person’. In my experience, young people I have worked with and work with appreciate honesty, authenticity, not being false. They immediately recognize who is with and for them. If we are not present first of all and especially with them where they are – if they are not our priority, then our courtyards will be empty and Don Bosco’s dream… will be just a dream.”

At the end of the round table, the video on the World Confederation “Mornese” Past Pupils of the FMA was presented, after which the participants, divided into groups, met with the individual speakers to deepen the themes.

In the afternoon, the program continued with a visit to some Salesian places, work in language groups on the Strenna of the Rector Major, and the Eucharistic Celebration in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, presided over by Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime (Video). In his homily, the Vicar General, Fr. Stefano Martoglio, SDB, repeating the verbs of the mission of the Twelve – to be with Him, to experience Him, to bear Him (witness), and never to be detached from God, otherwise the evil one comes. He said, “The dream of God in our vocation always asks that we dream with Him and do not get tired of Him, otherwise we are able to ruin even the greatest gift that we have.”

The intense day concluded after dinner with adoration in the Basilica and the Goodnight of the Superior General of the FMA Institute, Mother Chiara Cazzuola who, in emphasizing the centrality of the figure of Mary that the mysterious Personage identifies as the “Teacher”, ended by saying:

“In the dream, paradigmatic and charismatic, Jesus entrusts us and our mission to His Mother. It is with our hand in hers that we can bring hope, love, and peace. Indeed, it is always she who continues to do wonders in our lives, in our educational mission, and in the history of the entire human family.

We are here, before the Help of Christians whom Don Bosco called ‘Our Lady of difficult times’ to ask together, and with confidence, for her intercession for the gift of peace throughout the world, especially in countries at war and where various forms of violence and injustice prevent young generations and families from looking to the future with hope. May Mary, Queen of Peace and Mother of Humanity, welcome our prayer” (Video).

Photo: Flickr FMA


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