Roma (Italia). From 7 May to 5 June 2024, a group of Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesians of Don Bosco, Salesian Cooperators (SSCC), Volunteers of Don Bosco (VDB) and lay people belonging to the Provinces of America, made a 28-day pilgrimage to significant places for the Salesian Family, which marked the beginning of a Charism, a gift for young people and for the Church.

With this pilgrimage to Italy, the group concluded a four-year formative experience of “Initiation to Salesianity”, offered by the Salesian Center of Ongoing Formation America (CSFPA) of Quito, in Ecuador that in 2024 celebrates 50 years of service to the ongoing formation of the Salesian Family in America.

The goal of the experience was to live the charismatic identity by pilgriming as a community through the places that marked the life and work of Don Bosco and, in this way, realize a personal synthesis in view of an educational – pastoral – missionary – communicative project in the environments in which the participants work.

On 3 June in Rome, they were welcomed in the Mother House of the Salesian Congregation of Don Bosco and in the Generalate of the FMA Institute, where they were able to visit the exhibit of the Charism and the Marian Hall, and then to reach the headquarters of the General Postulation of the Salesian Family.

From the hands of the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, the 24 participants received the diploma of completion of the course of the fourth level of Salesianity, after a significant path of studies, readings, reflections, sharing of experiences and insights on the Salesian Charism with the historical-critical-experiential method. Studying, therefore, historical facts with a critical eye, in comparison with different sources and disciplines, also drawing on personal and community experience as a source of knowledge.

If on the one hand the Pilgrimage, “In the footsteps of Don Bosco” is the conclusion of this formative journey, on the other hand, it is a great opportunity to visit, coming from the American continent, Turin, Annecy, Genoa, Mornese, Valdocco, Becchi, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Rome. In this way, they ceased to be only places of study, to become an effective part of the life of each of the participants and their personal encounter with Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello.

At the end of the experience, one of the participants, Sister Cecilia Gayo, FMA of Immaculate Conception Province (URU), highlights the gift of the encounter with the places “where it all began” and the value of the group experience:

“It is a great gift to be able to walk in the land of our origins, to touch those walls with our hands; to contemplate the landscapes that our Saints contemplated; to pray where they prayed. One is right there, where the books recount what happened!

Another great gift of God is to make this journey with a group of people we have known; with whom we grew, sharing reflections, experiences, joys, and even sorrows. To walk together, to be a community, to be with one another. And together, we felt the invitation renewed to be signs of His Love.”

After a ‘dive’ into Salesianity, from these places that today welcome the Salesian Family from all over the world, pilgrims are again sent to realize the missionary dream of Don Bosco in their own realities!

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