Turin (Italy). “There is a boy here…” is the theme of the formative meeting, organized by the Italian Interprovincial Conference (CII), for the FMA from 7 to 10 years of religious profession that was held in Turin from 14 to 17 February 2019 with the goal of studying the Salesian mission that places the young at the center so that through an integral education, they may have “bread, work, and Paradise”.
The meeting, attended by 25 FMA of the Italian Provinces, was an opportunity for formation, reflection, and sharing through dialogue with the Word of God, the apostolic experience of Don Bosco, and the guidelines of the Synod of Youth for the purpose of understanding how the pastoral theme of the year “I am a mission for the life of others” can be translated into one’s life totally given to the Lord.
The lectio Divina on the passage of John about the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6:1-15) led by Fr. Stefano Mazzer, SDB, highlighted the centrality of the young person in our mission, not so much as a recipient or protagonist, but as co-responsible in the educational and evangelizing action. In fact, it is the child who offers gratuitously and promptly the loaves and fishes that Jesus will multiply for all those present. The invitation is to pay attention first of all to what the children and young people of our houses bring and offer us with their life and resources to be used in pastoral educational action, starting from them and walking with them.
“Walking together with the young” is one of the central themes of Salesian ministry in the light of the synodal experience that Fr Andrea Bozzolo, participant in the Synod of young people as an expert, presented through three key words that should guide our mission: vocation , accompaniment, and synodality. Life as a vocation is the key to anthropologically reading youth and pastoral action. The latter must aim to help the young people to ask the fundamental questions: “Who am I? For whom am I? to find within themselves a call that makes of their life a gift and a task. In order for young people to be able to answer these questions about meaning and discover that they and their talents and history are “a mission for the life of others”, it is necessary that every educator, consecrated or lay, devote time and heart to accompaniment, in which the two attitudes of empathic listening and authoritativeness are fundamental, alongside the humble readiness to be accompanied in order to learn from Jesus the art of accompaniment and to look at life through the eyes of God.
Theological and pastoral contributions on the mission were enriched by two itinerant experiences: the visit to the Sermig – Arsenal of Peace in which “The Good well done” is possible through networking inspired by the universal values of brotherhood, solidarity, and peace; the guided visit by Fr. Enrico Lupano, SDB, to the places where Don Bosco started his work for the poorest young people – the street-prison, the ecclesiastical boarding school, and the Refuge of the Marchese di Barolo – maturing the ever-current idea that it is God who carries forward His plan of salvation even amid difficulties and opposition.
The message of this rich experience is that the central nucleus of the Salesian mission is the capacity to ‘give the life’ that is received each day in the ‘here and now’ in which God calls us to collaborate with Him so that the young may have life in abundance.