Turin (Italy). On 18 January 2024, the Spirituality Days of the Salesian Family open in Turin, in the Grand Theatre of Valdocco, at the 42nd edition. As usual, the theme of the annual event is Strenna 2024 of the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, on the theme: “The dream that makes us dream.” A heart that transforms ‘wolves’ into ‘lambs’.

There are about 350 participants from 45 countries around the world, representing 22 of the 32 Groups of the Salesian Family, including Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sister Chiara Cazzuola, some General Councilors, the Novices, the Postulants, and various FMA.

The young presenters, Giuli Lattanzi and the Portuguese Silvio Monteiro, enliven the moment of welcome and invite the Rector Major on stage to welcome the participants. “I believe that the Days are a wonderful opportunity to show the communion of our being the family of Don Bosco, to show with great simplicity that the Charism continues to be very alive, and truly that ‘the dream’ of Don Bosco today is a dream of the highest quality for us”.

Fr. Leonardo Mancini, Provincial of the Special Circumscription Mary Help of Christians of Piedmont and Aosta Valley, as a good ‘host’, wishes to continue to dream ‘like’ Don Bosco and ‘with’ Don Bosco and to welcome the GSFS “as an opportunity to update ourselves in our personal call and commit ourselves more to help young people discover the dream that God has on each of them, so that they can be truly happy in time and eternity”.

Wishing to live these Days with intensity, Fr. Joan Lluís Playà, Central Delegate of the Rector Major for the Secretariat of the Salesian Family, recalls the key words of previous years – yeast, heart, Christians and citizens, hope and holiness, identifying in the Dream the red thread of the Days, which this year summarize the whole vision of Don Bosco.

In the evocative opening prayer, to the tune of “Father Teacher and friend”, cubes are brought to the stage with symbols of the charismatic identity of the 32 Groups of the Salesian Family. A wall was formed that represents the good that is done every day together as the Rector Major then observes.

The central moment of the afternoon is the presentation of the Strenna by the Rector Major, which began with the viewing of the video. Recounting the genesis of the Strenna, born on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Dream at 9 years, he confides that traveling the world and visiting 120 nations, he discovered “that the Strenna is like this thread that really makes itself present everywhere in the world”.

“The Dream”, specifies the Rector Major, is at the heart of the Strenna, “the Dream that makes us dream today.” Encouraging to read the full text, he then summarizes it in four essential points:

  1. The dream: it was more than a dream, a dream-vision in the Spirit and it was also a program of life, a prophecy. 62 years after this dream (May 16, 1867), when he was 72 years old, Don Bosco is deeply moved when celebrating the Eucharist in the unique altar of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, because there he understands everything: that dream-vision-prophecy, became a reality.
  2. With the help of Mr. Marco Bay, Salesian Coadjutor Director of the Salesian Central Archive, he wanted to individuate the words on the dream of the Rectors Major and it emerged that it was valued and appreciated by all, especially by Fr. Rinaldi who lived and celebrated the first Centenary. “For me it was an extraordinary wealth,” emphasizes Fr. Ángel.
  3. The protagonists of the dream are the boys and girls. “Today, 200 years later – he underlines – they are and must be the protagonists of our life and our Charism.”
  4. What Johnny Bosco experienced is a true vocational call. Fr. Egidio Viganò speaks of “a true masterpiece of a vocational call. And for us, the Salesian Family, this is very interesting. It is not true that there are no vocations. Today, do we dare to be enthusiastic and share in order to discover all vocations in the world and all vocations in the Church?”

Lastly, he adds, “the Teacher” comes: Don Bosco really had a Mother and Teacher, a guide for his life. And he expresses a deep conviction: “If love for Our Lady, for the Help of Christians, is not found in the life of the members of the Salesian Family, they will be ‘something else’, but not the Family of Don Bosco. The feminine and maternal dimension has in fact accompanied the whole mission of Don Bosco, “to help his young people feel the tenderness of a mother, a woman”.

Among the “12 dreams” in the 4th chapter of the Strenna, the Rector Major underlines the dream of continuing to have the “freshness” with which, despite the fragility, “we offer the best of what we are.” “We were born for the neediest” is another dream that has not changed “by a comma” from the drafting of the first Constitutions. “The Holy Spirit will continue to sustain us when we continue to guarantee charismatic fidelity,” he concludes.

Fr. Ángel then devoted considerable time to answering the questions that had come from the members of the Salesian Family and posed by the two young presenters. Next, the online link with the three winners of the competition for the poster of the Strenna: Salmi Medina from Paraguay, Nuno Quaresma from Portugal, and Reg Silva from the Philippines, who recounted the inspiration and message expressed with their image.

The Days are also an opportunity to learn more about the unique characteristics and experience of each Group of the SF. The first to be presented, at the end of the assembly, was the Association of Devotees of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA).

The afternoon ended with the Eucharistic Celebration in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians presided over by Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime. In his homily, Fr. Juan Carlos Pérez Godoy, Regional Councilor for the Mediterranean, echoing the Dream at the 9 years, highlights the different interpretations of Johnny’s family members, emphasizing the one of Mamma Margherita that reveals the profound gaze of faith with which his mother welcomes the dream, her attitude of great trust in God with which she will educate her children.

The first Day ends with the Marian prayer of the Rosary in the Basilica and with the Salesian Good Night by Eliana Gherardi, International President of the Salesian Damas, recognized by Fr. Egidio Viganò as 16th  Group of the SF. “Salesian Damas, he explained, is not a title, but a mysticism, a way of being in the world, a vocation in which the fulfilment of duty shines , amiability and sweetness, work and temperance, typically Salesian, and an approach that promotes the dignity of women and the baptismal vocation of the daughters of God, members of the Church in today’s world”.

Photos: Flickr FMA


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