Rome (Italy). On 11 December 2021, in Rome at Villa EUR, the National Convention of the Salesian Youth Poly Sports (PGS) on the theme “Towards a new cultural proposal”, in the context of the annual meeting of the Association, held on 10 and 11 December, which was attended by the Executive and the National Council, the Regional Presidents, the Councilors emeritus, and the Regional Referents of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.
The purpose of the Convention was to initiate the process of re-reading, which will be carried out by a Commission made up of Presidents, FMA Referents, young people, and educators of the PGS cultural proposal from its origins to today, as a charismatic choice to guide future actions in the light of socio-cultural changes, in order to be significant in the territory.
“We strongly feel the need to review the cultural proposal of the Salesian Youth Poly Sports. We will review the fundamental choices contained within our Statute with the eyes of today. It is good that an Association like ours is called into question, keeping style and identity at the center,” said the lawyer Ciro Bisogno, National President of PGS, at the opening of the Convention.
In the greetings to the participants, Sr. Francesca Scibetta, FMA National Referent, recalled the objectives of the PGS, “to reach the hearts of children and young people through sports, to help them in their integral growth in the style that Don Bosco taught us” with clear choices: the choice of young people, education, sports, the cultural context, volunteering, the territory, the associative choice.
Sr. Mara Tagliaferri, President of the Italian Center for Salesian Women’s Works (CIOFS) recently in office, in wishing a good work outcome, recalled the aims of the Association present in the PGS Statute and a thought of Fr. Juan Vecchi, 8th Successor of Don Bosco regarding sports, “It is an experience that offers the opportunity to participate in the development of the culture and life of the territory; it helps individuals to grow humanely. It is a theme within which it is possible to raise questions of meaning and weave relationships.”
The moderator of the Convention, Dr. Luca Caruso, journalist and spokesman for the Ratzinger Foundation, recalling the words of Pope Francis to the Chapter members of the FMA Institute, which invited them to consider the present time as Kairos, a favorable time to allow ourselves to be questioned, presented the speakers and introduced Sr. Lucia Piva, Regional FMA Referent Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, an historical presence in the Association, who led the participants in retracing the path of the cultural and formative proposal during the 50-year journey of the PGS.
Sr. Lucia stressed how the Association over the years has always allowed itself to be challenged by cultural changes and current issues in the world of youth, promoting Assemblies to re-understand values and face new challenges.
“Educating through sport, a wager that is still valid” is the title-affirmation of the intervention of the Mother General of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, who drew on her personal experience as local and provincial FMA Delegate of the PGS in the Tuscan Province. Referring to the origins, the initiative of the Founders, their ability to grasp the needs of young people, and the play aspect of the Preventive System, Mother spoke of the educational power of an environment in which to express oneself freely, characterized by a family atmosphere in which the person, with his or her resources and abilities, is at the center; education to corporeality and healthy competition; accompaniment on a journey of human maturation by adult coaches-educators who participate in the life of young people, take an interest in their problems, listen to them, teach them the rules for life.
Furthermore, Mother Chiara recalled, “for us, the Salesian Family, it is important that there is an Educating Community. … This being ‘together’ is a strength for us. Young people feel strong when they see convergent action in which the goal of their growth is sought. This charismatic richness of being together, today seems particularly charged with prophecy, because if we want to go forward we must walk together, especially in the field of education.” Mother concluded by encouraging the PGS to look to the future with trust and hope, putting young people and their passions at the center.
Prof. Isabella Cordisco, Professor of Sociology at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) in Rome, addressed the theme: “The choice of sports in a dynamic society”. Based on some historical-sociological passages, she highlighted how sport is increasingly a manifestation of individualism and entertainment, with the exaltation of performance, competition, extreme play. “The report says who we are,” starting from a relational approach, she proposed to the assembly to rediscover sports as a factor of rediscovery of identity and a public good full of values that benefit people and society.
In the discourse, “The choice of volunteer work, expression of an associative reality attentive to the needs of the territory”, the lawyer Andrea Farina, Professor of Law and Legislation at the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) in Rome, using the metaphor of travel, with a starting point, a map, and a goal, described the present time as a moment of historical discontinuity, in which it is necessary to enter the complexity and network with the territory, without losing the volunteer character of the Association and promoting social cohesion. He indicated that “With the cultural project there must be made available a clear, simple, and practical map that can guide the Association at a central, peripheral, territorial level.”
At the conclusion of the conference, the President, Ciro Bisogno, thanked the speakers for their valuable contributions to the reflection, which help to redefine the position of the Association in today’s times, to continue with the re-elaboration of the cultural proposal.