Portugal – Provincial Delegates of Mediterranean Region reflect on missionary animation

Lisbon, Portugal – November 2022 – A meeting of the Provincial Delegates of Missionary Animation (DIAM) at the level of the Mediterranean Region was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from November 25 to 28. Various themes were addressed, including: young missionaries in Europe; the synergy between vocation animation and missionary vocation; reflections on “Laudato sì”. All themes were contextualized by the participants through the sharing that was done after each meeting. The presence of Fr. Alfred Maravilla, General Councilor for Missions, helped to address some of the challenges that are experienced within missionary animation in the various Provinces. The importance of taking into consideration the missionary animation of Salesian communities, which would risk being neglected by focusing only on the various youth missionary initiatives, was stressed. The moments of prayer and fraternity were an object of admiration; they gave the meeting a family and “missionary” feel, which are proper to the Salesian spirit. The participants felt at home thanks to the generous hospitality of the Portuguese Province and thanks to the organizational care of Portuguese DIAM Fr. Sílvio Faria. In the end, everyone returned to their Provinces with a renewed spirit, with evangelical zeal and with a desire to move forward with the good things that are already being done and also to think about how to implement the various prompts that emerged from the meeting.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Portugal – Communication Sector holds World Consultation in Lisbon

From Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, various members of the Sector for Social Communication and representatives of the same Sector active in the various Salesian regions gathered in Lisbon to participate in the World Communication Consultation.

About two dozen representatives from different Salesian Regions, exponents of the Communication Sector, the Salesian Bulletin, and Salesian publishing houses gathered for a working meeting and sharing of communication practices in the service of the Salesian mission.

In the meeting’s opening prayer, Fr. Gildasio Mendes, General Councilor for Social Communication, said, “I’m very happy to hold this meeting after two and a half years without seeing you in person.” Fr. Mendes also recalled the excellent work done by each of those present as well as the enormous dedication of each to the field of Communication.

It is a meeting marked by fraternity, rich in the exchange of experiences and significant in the search for new knowledge and practices of communication for the good of everyone’s mission, always at the service of young people. Moreover, participants are invited to contribute to a general working document for the sector, which aims to explore concepts and processes while creating a common vision.

This 25-part document analyzes and explores ideas such as “communication, creative, narrative and aesthetic processes,” “communication and Salesian charism,” “communication, Salesian identity and mission,” “communication and spirituality,” among many other concepts and ideas. Each participating region is invited to integrate its own ideas and perspectives into this working document, which is intended to be global.

During the World Consultation on Communication, the Department’s Plan for Communication is also analyzed and worked on.

The first day was also marked by a moment of tribute to some of the members present: a gesture with which the General Councilor for Social Communication wanted to highlight the work done, over several years, by each of the honorees, in the various Salesian Regions they represent.

The World Consultation on Communication 2022 was also the moment chosen for the launch, in Portuguese, of Fr. Gildasio Mendes’ 23rd book, entitled “Eu Confio em ti!” (I trust in you!), which is intended to be a “meaningful testimony” that contributes to the “meaningful experience and joy of trust.”

During the World Consultation, participants will also have the opportunity to take part in some educational, cultural, and religious visits to the cities of Lisbon, Estoril, the place that will host next year’s meeting of Salesian youth who will participate in WYD Lisbon 2023, and the Marian shrine of Fatima, a national and international center of Marian devotion.

The visit to Fatima will include moments of prayer and the Eucharist in the Chapel of Apparitions, which will be presided over by Fr. Gildasio Mendes. At the end of the visit, and before returning to Lisbon, participants in the Consultation on World Communication will also recite a prayer of Consecration to Our Lady of Fatima.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Palestine – Salesian School of Social Communication in Middle East begins

 Last Monday, October 10, the Salesian School of Social Communication (SSCS) began in the “Adolescent Jesus” Province of the Middle East (MOR). This course opened with an initial meeting, conducted digitally, chaired by the General Counselor for Social Communication of the Salesian Congregation, Fr. Gildasio Mendes, and was also attended by the Superior of the MOR Province, Fr. Alejandro León, the Provincial Delegate for Social Communication, Fr. Pier Jabloyan, five young Salesian missionaries, and young communicators representing the different Salesian centers in the Province.

There were a total of twenty-five participants, with about two people connected from each of the Salesian works or schools in the Province: Cairo-Zeitun, Cairo-El Sahel and Alexandria (Egypt); Damascus, Aleppo and Kafroun (Syria); El Houssoun and Al Fidar (Lebanon); and Nazareth (Holy Land).

This first session focused on the presentation of the contents and objectives of the SSCS, which will be concretely carried out in the next meetings, and allowed for a first moment of acquaintance and interaction among all participants. In the next five meetings, following the scheme prepared by the Social Communication Department, the SSCS will address 5 topics led by different people, each according to their specialization:

–     The Biblical Dimension of Communication, with Fr. Gildasio Mendes, General Counselor for Social Communication.

–     The synodal dimension of Communication, with Fr. Harris Pakkam, Editorial Director of the Salesian iNfo Agency (ANS).

–     The Salesian dimension of Communication, with Fr. Ricardo Campoli, member of the Social Communication Dept.

–     The institutional dimension of Communication, with Dr. Fabrizio Vignati, lay collaborator of the Special Circumscription of Piedmont and Aosta Valley (ICP).

–     The Communication and Youth Ministry dimension, with Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende, General Councilor for Youth Ministry.

An in-depth study on the theme of Justice and Peace shall complete the path of the SSCS in the MOR Province.

“We hope that this school will strengthen our mission of communication in the Salesian Middle East, between centers and schools, following in the footsteps of Don Bosco, thanks to the accompaniment offered to us by the whole Salesian Congregation and in this case by the Social Communication Department,” Fr. Jabloyan declared on the occasion.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Missionary Sending of 153rd Salesian Missionary Expedition.

On Sunday, September 25, at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, presided over the Mass with the missionary sending off ceremony of 19 Salesians of Don Bosco and 9 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA). Six Salesian missionaries did not receive their visas in time. For the Salesians, it was the 153rd missionary expedition, while for the FMA it was the 145th missionary expedition.

Together with the Rector Major and 10th Successor of Don Bosco, his Vicar, Fr. Stefano Martoglio, the General Councilor for Missions, Fr. Alfred Maravilla, the General Councilor for Formation, Fr. Ivo Coelho, the General Councilor for Youth Ministry, Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende, 20 Provincials, and many other presbyters concelebrated.

In his homily, Fr. Á.F. Artime reiterated that it is thanks to the missionaries that today the Salesian charism is spread all over the world; without them, Salesians would be few and present only in Italy. “Our way of living together from all parts of the world is a prophetic word,” he explained, noting then how the circumstance of the missionary sending was a propitious occasion to say thanks to the Lord for the missionary call of these religious, a particular call within the common Salesian vocation and able to transmit enthusiasm to young people in the name of the Lord, with a Salesian heart.

The Successor of Don Bosco then resumed the dialogue he had the night before with the newly-missionaries of SDB and FMA: “Today the outlook, the approach, cannot be the same as in Don Bosco’s time; we do not go to teach those who do not know. Instead, we go to share life, offering what we are and surely receive much more than what we offer.”

Commenting on the Word of God, the Rector Major pointed out that the Gospel of the day was crystal clear: there is a very rich man, whose name is not known because his heart is so hard that he has lost himself, and a poor man named Lazarus. The problem is not wealth, but a dead heart, unable to see anything beyond the self, unable to feel compassion and mercy. “Let us not forget that we were born for the poorest kids, not to do who knows what, but to meet them there where the neediest are in every part of the world.” Sometimes it is not about material poverty but the great emptiness in the meaning of life and extreme loneliness, sometimes nothing is missing, but everything is missing. “Take care of yourselves, but give your best, give life every day. So many are waiting for us without knowing us!” urged the Rector Major.

Following the profession of faith, the solemn commissioning and handing over of the missionary crosses at the hands of the Rector Major took place. On behalf of Mother Chiara Cazzuola, Mother General of the FMA, who was unable to attend, it was Sister Ruth del Pilar Mora, General Councilor for Missions, who handed over the missionary cross to the missionaries.

“Dear brothers and sisters, may Mary, Mother and Teacher, accompany and protect you. In the name of Don Bosco and in the memory of the First Missionary Expedition, go and announce to the youth and the poor of the world the joy of the risen Christ,” were the sending words of Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, who recalled the First Missionary Expedition of 1875.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Syria – Extraordinary Visitation to Syria by Mediterranean Region Councilor

(ANS – Damascus) – As part of his Extraordinary Visitation to the “Adolescent Jesus” Province of the Middle East, the Councilor for the Mediterranean Region, Fr Juan Carlos Pérez Godoy, visited all the Salesian Houses in Syria.

From Lebanon, the first stopover on his journey, he left for Kafroun, the city geographically closest to the Land of the Cedars and visited the local Salesian house. There was a joyful welcome from the fifty boys and girls singing in Italian in homage to him in the presence of animators, educators and lay staff of the house, besides Fr Danny Hayek sdb, who resides there, as well as Fr Mario Murru and Fr Dany Kaurieh, from Aleppo.

Fr Pérez Godoy met the Educational Council and the community with the children and young people and listened with interest to their experiences they narrated. He, thus got to know the circumstances and the environment in which the Salesians work in Kafroun, as well as the difficulties they encountered.

After Kafroun, he reached Aleppo, where the Salesian House “Georges and Mathilde Salem” is located. Here as well, he met the young people and the Educational Council and was also accompanied on a visit to the city, which was one of the most affected places during the war. He also observed the various churches which were already restored thanks to the commitment of the faithful.

At Damascus, more than 350 boys and girls who attend high school and the oratory of “Don Bosco” center celebrated the arrival of Fr Pérez Godoy, in an atmosphere of extraordinary joy and happiness, among the characteristic Damascus folklore rites.

In Damascus, the General Councilor walked in the footsteps of St. Paul, living intimately the story of his conversion at the gates of Damascus and visited the holy areas which are located within about 50 kilometers from Damascus. They are: Saydnaya and Maaloula, with its two churches, dedicated to Saint Thekla and to Saints Sarkis and Pacho.

Accompanied by Fr Dany Kerio, Fr Najib Shennekji and Fr Felice Cantele, the Visitor also got to know the Salesian center in Maarat Sednaya, as well as the new presence  of “Don Bosco” in Jaramana, near Damascus, which was nevertheless opened last year to teach children and young people after school and serves as a hospice for university students.

As part of the visit to Damascus, the Regional Councilor met with the educational council & community and had several spontaneous meetings with the young people. He also took part in the opening ceremony of the football championship between the churches of Damascus and its surroundings and also met with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who work both in the Italian hospital and in the kindergarten of the school.

“Father Juan Carlos’ visit to Syria was full of encounters and full of spirituality and joy, precisely because there was a Visitor who traveled long distances to get to know a country that has suffered for a long time from war and which suffers still many problems resulting from the war, which are reflected in the first place on young people,” commented the Salesians in Syria.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Syria – Lay people co-responsible in Salesian mission: Johnny and Georgette

(ANS – Kafroun) – A history of suffering, certainly, like all those concerning refugees during wars; but also a love story, of a family steadfast in difficulties; a story of fidelity to one’s own values ​​on the part of a Christian and Salesian family; a story of gratitude, that of many people towards them and their work: all this is the story of Johnny and Georgette, a married couple of Salesian Cooperators who, after fleeing Aleppo in the hardest months of the war in Syria, led, for eight years, the first lay-run work in the whole Middle East Province (MOR), that is, the retreat house the Salesians own in the mountainous region of Kafroun. Now Johnny and Georgette, together with their children, have been able to return to their Aleppo; but not before having received heartfelt thanks from the Sons of Don Bosco in Syria.

It has been over 8 years since this family left Aleppo, due to the harshness of the war and its consequences, both material and psychological. It was 2012 when they abandoned their home and their belongings, taking with them what was their only daughter at the time. At that moment they could not have known that Providence had a special assignment for them.

On arriving in Kafroun, in fact, the two Salesian Cooperators Johnny Ghazi and Georgette Deek were invited to take on the responsibility of managing the Salesian house there. And they, in a spirit of service to the Lord and always maintaining the typically Salesian family atmosphere, welcomed the proposal and accompanied all the initiatives: catechism, summer activities, formation meetings, welcoming groups of visitors who constantly coming to the center – born, indeed, as a monastery for camps…

About two weeks ago, during a visit to the work, the Provincial of MOR, Fr Alejandro León, celebrated a Eucharist in which he wanted to publicly thank them for their ministry and their good administration in this time during which they gave the example of Christian and Salesian laity, committed in the Church and in society, with young people.

After their service in Kafroun, now Johnny and Georgette are back with their two daughters in Aleppo.

Today, therefore, this message arrives from the Salesian community in Syria:

“Despite the many difficulties, they lived this service with honesty, joy and sacrifice. Furthermore, theirs was the first experience in the Middle East Province, in which lay people of the Salesian Family were given the opportunity to live Salesian spirituality with high responsibility, hand in hand with consecrated Salesians, as Don Bosco wanted, a single family for a single objective: the salvation of souls. On behalf of the Salesians, young people, Salesian Families and Cooperators in the Middle East, we say to you: ‘Thank you, Johnny and Georgette!'”

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Lebanon – Salesian oratory is an oasis of peace in context of crisis

(ANS – El-Houssoun) – Organized by the Salesians in Lebanon, the Youth South Camp in the mountain house of El-Houssoun (Byblos district) is increasingly revealing itself to be an oasis of peace, serenity and conviviality in what is a dramatic social, political and economic context, one that is unprecedented in the centennial history of modern Lebanon.

About 800 boys and girls are involved: Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi, with dozens of volunteer animators, adequately trained. Syrians and Iraqis are all refugees, residing in Lebanon for several years: Syrians are waiting to be able to return to their country, while Iraqis are waiting to be welcomed in a third country. While the Syrians are all Muslims and the Iraqis Christians, the Lebanese are mixed, but the vast majority are Christians, in accordance with the area’s demographics and live within a radius of 10-15 km from the Salesian center. Syrian children also reside in the area; Iraqis, on the other hand, reside in the suburbs of Beirut, more than 40 km away. For all of them, transportation is guaranteed, as well as the daily distribution of a sandwich and refreshments.

Never had the Salesian house in El-Houssoun known such a crowded Summer Camp, even if the daily attendance is divided into the days of the week according to the nationality and age of the participants (from 6 to 15 years).

A collective or group educational and recreational program forms the core, flanked by moments of free playful activities, especially sports.

“It’s impressive to see the joy that shines on the faces of children and adolescents and the enthusiasm they put into participating in the various activities offered,” they write from the Oratory. “Even Muslim girls who wear the veil put aside their traditional reserve to leave involve the atmosphere that surrounds them,” they add. All this strongly contrasts with the climate currently dominant in the country: mistrust, poverty and, not infrequently, misery, unemployment, galloping devaluation of the Lebanese pound, instability and sometimes insecurity, lack of basic products, medicines and the most basic social services. From day to day, in a crisis that has lasted for two years, aggravated by the terrible explosion in the port of Beirut (4 August 2020), there is no glimmer of light.

Sowing joy, trust and giving hope, as well as providing concrete help, remains the primary objective of and for the children of Don Bosco in the current situation in Lebanon. The day is expected when the light shall eventually triumph and then Lebanon will once again become the “message country” described by Pope Saint John Paul II.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Video Tour of Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, “Don Bosco’s Madonna”

(ANS – Turin) – The Basilica of Mary Help of Christians is the jewel in the crown of Don Bosco’s original Oratory in Valdocco (Turin), Italy. Built between 1863 and 1868, it was literally a dream come true for Don Bosco. Begun as a worship space for the boys of the Oratory, it became the centre of the newly founded Salesian Congregation and today it is the pulsing spiritual heart of the worldwide Salesian Family. And last March, the Salesian Family Coordinators in the SUE Province (United States East and Canada) asked Fr Mike Pace SDB, Vice-Director, Museo Casa Don Bosco, if he would prepare a video tour of the Basilica. “This was a privileged invitation to make the Basilica and Don Bosco’s Madonna better known and loved,” Fr Pace comments. So a guided tour is now available– in English, and also with Italian and Korean subtitles, but soon in Spanish too – that explores various strands which are woven together to make the Basilica a magnificent tapestry of Salesian history, spirituality and Marian devotion.

Part I: History, Art and Architecture

For Don Bosco, art and architecture were always at the service of education and catechesis. With this in mind, the first half of the tour focuses on these questions: Why did Don Bosco choose the Renaissance-era Basilica of St. George in Venice as the model for his façade? What passages from Sacred Scripture and what events of church history are depicted therein? Why is there a statue of Our Lady of Mercy on the cupola if the Basilica is dedicated to Mary Help of Christians? What are the historical roots of the devotion to Mary as “Help of Christians”? When and why did the original Basilica undergo two major renovations?  Who were the major artists commissioned to adorn the Basilica? What message did Don Bosco wish to communicate through the iconic painting of Mary Help of Christians which dominates the altar space and is recognized all over the world as Don Bosco’s Madonna? How  does the Basilica convey Don Bosco’s “Three White Loves”? How did faith and finances come together to pay for such a magnificent church?

Part II: Salesian Family Heroes

The second part of the tour focuses on the Salesian family heroes who are honoured at the side altars and in the Crypt of Relics: St. Maria Domenica Mazzarello, St. Dominic Savio, St. Francis de Sales, Blessed Michael Rua and Blessed Philip Rinaldi (the first and second successors of Don Bosco), and the Salesian Proto-martyrs, Bishop Luigi Versiglia and Fr Callistus Caravario.

The altar of St. Joseph receives particular attention, as it is the only altar that has remained unchanged ever since Don Bosco built and blessed it.

This section culminates in the presentation of Don Bosco’s altar, which replaced the original altar dedicated to St. Peter as the Vicar of Christ. Don Bosco has been honoured here since his beatification on 2 June 2 1929 when he was translocated to the Basilica from the Salesian school in Valsalice. He awaits the glory of the resurrection at the altar where he celebrated his daily mass for twenty years.

Part III: The Mission

Finally, the tour reflects on the missionary dimension of the Basilica. From the walnut pulpit in the nave of the church, Don Bosco commissioned the first missionary expedition in 1875 under the leadership of Fr John Cagliero, future bishop and cardinal. The video explores some of Don Bosco’s heart-felt words from that occasion which still echo in the Basilica today and allow us to reflect on our own mission within the Church and the world as members of the Salesian Family.

Part IV: “Our Church, Our Mother’s House”

At the very foundations of the Basilica are those words which Mary spoke to Don Bosco when she revealed her desire that he build this church: hic est domus mea, inde gloria me; this is my home, from here my glory shall go forth.

“Just as these words inspired Don Bosco to realize what seemed like an impossible dream, they also inspired this video,” Fr Pace adds. “Most Salesians and most devotees of Mary, Help of Christians will never have the privilege of visiting Valdocco. For those of us who serve the Congregations here, this privilege becomes a heart-felt responsibility: a responsibility to make this Basilica more accessible to the Salesian world, in their own language. As our loving mother, Mary not only welcomes her children who can come to Valdocco, but also, from Valdocco, her love goes out to embrace all her children far and wide. It is our hope that this video may in some way be an experience of our Mother’s embrace.”

The production team was male and female, lay, religious and ordained: namely, Katia Fiorito, a Salesian Cooperator who recorded and edited the video; and Fr Pace, as guide. Much gratitude goes to ANS for the HD photos and drone footage, to the Basilica Rector and Vice-Rector, Frs. Guido Errico SDB and Vincenzo Trotta SDB for the generous access we had to the Basilica, and to the Basilica’s Music Director, Fr Maurizio Palazzo SDB for his musical support.

The Virtual tour of Basilica Mary Help of Christians with Fr Mike Pace is available here.

ANS – Agency of Salesian News

Fr Caputa introduces Simone Srugi

(ANS – Beitgemal) – The Salesian Fr Giovanni Caputa, former professor of Theology in Cremisan and Jerusalem (1980-2017), has since 2014 been a collaborator in the cause of beatification of Venerable Simone Srugi, a Salesian brother who was a central figure for the Salesians of the Middle East. Fr Caputa recently wrote a new book in Italian on Simone Srugi (Simone Srugi nella storia di Betgamāl), and today he illustrates the history of the Venerable and the value of this publication.

It is not your first book on Srugi. What’s new in this one?

In 2018 I published Vita e scritti di Simone Srugi (Life and Writings), which contains all the documentation. In this last book, I better frame one and the others in their historical context, that is, the hundred years between the reconstitution of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem (1847) and the partition of Palestine (1947). It was part of a region that during that century completely changed aspect, from a political, socio-economic, cultural and religious point of view … The maps and the “photo gallery”, which complete the volume, help to offer a better picture.

Against that background, the life and action of Srugi stand out; after his childhood in Nazareth and the years of apprenticeship in Bethlehem (nurse, tailor and baker), he made his religious profession as a Salesian brother (1896) and carried out his mission for 50 years in Betgamāl. In this out-of-the-way and malarial locality, the Salesians welcomed Palestinian orphans, Armenian, Lebanese, Syrian refugees, and finally also Poles. They ran an agricultural school with an attached mill, olive oil press, canteen and medical-pharmaceutical dispensary. Simone was teacher and catechist of the little ones, master of ceremonies in the shrine of St Stephen and above all a nurse: the sick came to him by the dozen every day, from about fifty villages. It is estimated that he treated tens of thousands of poor sick people.

What did Srugi leave written?

He was not a writer; he was a practical, simple man, who loved to read Don Bosco’s books, manuals of piety… From them he transcribed short sentences, which he distributed in strips of paper to brothers and boys. They resemble today’s tweets.

Here are a few:

–      A “thank you to God” is worth more, a “God be blessed” in adversity, than a thousand thanks in prosperity.

–      God does things slowly, but He does them well.

–      Carry the cross of each day every day with the grace of each day.

–      The cross, if it is loved, is only half a cross, because the love of Jesus softens everything, and one does not suffer much, except when one loves little.

–      It is more worth raising a straw out of obedience than fasting a Lent by one’s own election.

–      You do not have to look for enemies in the town square, while the most bitter is hidden inside you, indeed, it is you. So look at your soul for yourself.

–      The happiness of pleasing God with doing all things well is a sage of heaven.

The book in Italian Simone Srugi nella storia di Betgamāl – Simone Srugi in the history of Betgamāl – will soon be included in the Salesian Digital Library (SDL).

   Agency of Salesian News

DON BOSCO – THE GENIUS WHO KNEW HOW TO MAKE HIS BOYS HAPPY

Dear readers and friends, this January issue coincides with the great worldwide celebration of Don Bosco’s feast on January 31. And there is something else:

In 2021 we’ll commemorate the centennial of the death of his second successor, Fr. Paul Albera, whom Don Bosco called Paolino. In fact, Fr. Albera himself, after becoming a Salesian, recounted in reference to the famous photograph in which Don Bosco “posed” as if hearing the confession of one of his boys, with many others around, how “Don Bosco had to select one of them to take a place on the kneeler as if confessing his sins. He looked around and, smiling, called:  ‘Paolino, come here. Kneel down and put your forehead on mine, so that we won’t move!’’

This is our Don Bosco, able to make all his boys, and each one in particular, feel that they were loved, that they were really special and that he had wonderful plans for each of them, because they were God’s plans.

In fact, I’ll express my strong conviction that Don Bosco had the great capacity to make his boys experience life as a feast and faith as happiness.

It seems to me that this is the great gift or one of Don Bosco’s great gifts. So many times, trying to penetrate as deeply as I could into his heart, I’ve thought about this, because this conveys everything: he had the ability to make ordinary daily life with its burdens and weariness, and often enough its hunger and thirst, into a reason to live joyfully. And that’s how Don Bosco was, helping his boys feel very happy to love God and be loved by Him. Tell me whether this isn’t something typical of someone who’s truly a pedagogical genius.

Many years ago, when I saw the film Life Is Beautiful, I was deeply moved by that father’s love and also the genius he had for making his little boy experience the horror of the concentration camp as an adventure, at times as a game, as a reason to be surprised. Someone might say that the only thing father did in the film was deceive his son. No, that’s not so. This father had the genius, out of love, of making his little boy live reality, the only reality that was there, in such a way that the horror of every day wouldn’t crush him, in a way that allowed his smile and the light of his face never to disappear.

Don Bosco was a master at this. He was a genius in knowing how to find happiness and reasons for hope in little things, in the signs of attention that he devoted to everyone, in the simple gestures that seem to be lost in the ordinariness of every day but that have great importance and very great value.

This is a precious heritage that Don Bosco left to his Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, to his entire Salesian Family: that of being men and women who every day seek the gift of sympathy for meeting boys and girls, with a very concrete and real sense of encounter with each person—also with the shyest, with those whom they perceive to have fewer aptitudes and gifts; of being women and men who are always able to take the first step when it comes to reaching out to young people, who seek to approach everyone with respect, with the desire to understand and help, with happiness at being present among them, in particular those most in need. This is Salesian amorevolezza: a true affection as educators in whom there’s both human warmth and spiritual delicacy.

For this and much more, every boy in Don Bosco’s Oratory felt he was the one whom Don Bosco loved best, as if he were the only boy. This is a beautiful reason for you to celebrate Don Bosco’s feast spectacularly in this new year, as we come out of a year made difficult by Covid-19 and its consequences, trusting that we’ll be able to beat it in a few months. Let’s make every educational space, every Salesian house, every personal encounter, a reason to feel that life is beautiful, it’s worth living as what it is, it’s God’s gift, and so is to be lived as a feast even on gloomy days, lived full of the light that comes from abandoning oneself and trusting in the God of life.

I wish you a most happy 2021 filled with God’s blessings and the maternal presence of Mary, our MOTHER, the Help of Christians.

“And so we won’t move!”

 ANS – Agency of Salesian News