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


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

Message from the Rector Major to young people!

My dear young people,
joy is a central element in the life of a Christian.

My heartfelt greetings to each one of you, on the five continents: to you, young people of the “Salesian world” and to all the young people who will receive this message through you.

In article 17 of the Constitutions of the Salesians of Don Bosco – with the heading “Optimism and joy” – we read: “Because he is a herald of the Good News, [the Salesian] is always cheerful. He radiates this joy and he is able to educate to a Christian and festive way of life”.

I am sure that this is a rule of life for us Salesians and for all the members of our Salesian Family: it is something beautiful, which belongs to our charismatic identity. How I wish it could be like that in your lives too, dear young people!

I want to speak to you about this profound joy, which comes from God and from being rooted in him. Definitely, our Christian vocation has also the mission of bringing joy to the world: that deep and authentic joy that lasts because it comes from God. I am convinced that you and many other young people like you are longing (and sometimes needing) to hear that the Christian message is one of joy and hope.

My dear young people, our hearts are made for joy and for living with hope. It is something we are born with, intimately engraved in the depths of the heart of every person; a joy that is authentic, not fleeting, but profound and full, which gives ‘flavour’ to our existence. “You, young people are the now of God”, as Pope Francis told you1. You are at a stage of your existence that is characterized by the discovery of life, of yourselves and of your relationships with others. You are looking to the future and you have dreams. Your desire for happiness, friendship and love is strong. You like to share, have ideals and draw up plans. All this is part of your youthful life. I am not saying that all young people live in this way. There are, unfortunately, young people who are very far from such youthful dreams, though they too have the right to nurture their dreams, and should not give up dreaming.

Life is accompanied by the gifts God our Father continually provides: the joy of being alive and healthy, the joy coming from the beauty of nature; the joy of friendship and genuine love, of a work well done, which costs effort, but which also gives great satisfaction. The joy of a good family atmosphere – even if not all of you experience that in your lives; the joy of feeling understood and of serving others.

It is beautiful to realize that we are part of this reality, dear young people, and to discover that all this is not the fruit of chance, but is what God desires for each one of us, for each one of you, because God is the source of true joy, this joy has its origin in Him. It is beautiful to discover in life that we are accepted, welcomed and loved by God. It is beautiful to feel in the depths of your heart that you are personally loved by God. It is touching for a young person to get to the point in which he can convincingly say to himself or herself this great truth: “God loves me, and he loves me unconditionally, in a unique and personal way”. And the great proof of this love is the encounter with his Son Jesus Christ: in him we find the joy we seek. The authentic and true encounter with Jesus always gives rise to great inner joy in everyone.

While I am writing this, I am thinking of you, dear young people belonging to other religions, who perhaps cannot perceive in your own experience what I am talking about in reference to Jesus, even if you understand my words. However, you can have this personal and intimate experience, whatever your religious affiliation: God loves you, and he loves you deeply, because it belongs to the essence of God to love immensely all that he has created. You are there in his love; I am there too, each one of us, each one of you, my dear young people.

God’s beloved young people, wherever you are in the world, whatever your religion, open your heart to God, discover that God is present in your life, that he is faithful and will never abandon you. We can always meet him in his Word: “When your words came, I devoured them: your word was my delight and the joy of my heart” (Jer 15:16). Listen to God’s voice and to his Word, and you will have many answers to what you carry in your heart and in your thoughts.

Like Don Bosco, father and teacher of the youth of the world, I would like to invite you, in his name, to have the courage never to stray far from God, to choose Him at every moment of your lives with generosity, not being satisfied with giving the bare minimum, but committing yourselves to give the best that each one has in his/her heart. Your life, dear young people, is precious, and whatever vocation God calls you to, it is a life worth living in self-giving, in service and in love for others.

As Pope Francis says: “Dear young people, you are priceless! You are not up for sale! Please, do not let yourselves be bought. Do not let yourselves be seduced. Do not let yourselves be enslaved by forms of ideological colonization that put ideas in your heads, with the result that you end up becoming slaves, addicts, failures in life. You are priceless. … Fall in love with this freedom, which is what Jesus offers”2. Let me also invite you to have the courage to live the Beatitudes that Jesus proposes to us in the Gospel. They are a beautiful way of living the Gospel, with diverse ‘faces’ and ways that lead to happiness in Christ.

Imitating Don Bosco, I want to propose to you, as I wrote in this year’s Strenna, to be enthusiastic, to live life as a celebration and faith as true happiness. This is what Don Bosco resolved for himself, and made it a reality with his boys at Valdocco. Today that Valdocco of festive living and joy can be any of the Salesian or non-Salesian places and houses where you are. I ask you to become and to be missionaries of joy, because you are disciples-missionaries of Jesus. Tell your friends and other young people that you have found this precious treasure, which is Jesus himself. Propagate the joy and hope born of faith, reaching out to others with these gifts. Be missionaries for other young people, as Don Bosco proposed to his boys at Valdocco, bringing to those who are not well, to those who suffer, to the poorest, to those who “have no opportunities”, the joy that Jesus wants to offer everyone. Bring this same joy to your families, to your schools or universities; talk about it in your workplaces and among your friends. You will see that if that joy in your heart comes from God, it will become truly contagious, wonderfully contagious because it is life-giving. 

Don’t you think that, after what I have just said, it becomes easier to understand what Dominic Savio used to say at Valdocco: “We make holiness consist in being always cheerful”?

May Mary, Mother and Help of Christians, accompany all of us on this journey. She welcomed the Lord within herself and became his herald with a song of praise and joy: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46-47).

What is the joy that resonates in your hearts today, my dear young people?
May you be happy now and forever in heaven, as Don Bosco used to say!

I bless you and greet you with true and deep affection,

Ángel Fernández Artime
Rector Major

The bakery of the Salesians in Bethlehem helps the poor and needy

The ingredients of Salesian bread in Bethlehem are not only flour, water and yeast, but infinite quantities of mercy and generosity are also added to its dough, so the Salesian bakery in the city has become a point of reference in helping the poor and needy. P. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO Salesians of Bethlehem “In particularly difficult times such as the first and second intifada, this oven played an important role and provided an excellent service to the people. Also during the first and second Iraq war we helped many families poor. ” A relentless help even in this difficult time of the Coronavirus pandemic. P. LORENZO SAGGIOTTO Salesians of Bethlehem “Also in this period, from the outbreak of the pandemic until today, the bakery has not only given bread to the poorest families but also to institutions that need help to continue serving the people. “Among these institutions is the” Together for Life “Association of Bethlehem, which to help people with disabilities and who, due to the pandemic, no longer have any income, either from handicraft production or from donations. MAHERA GHARIB Director of “Together for Life” “We too depended on tourists visiting Bethlehem and we were affected as much as the entire tourism sector. The bread we receive is enough for about 55 people. For us it was a cost and the Salesians thus relieve us of this expense, above all because bread is fundamental in our Palestinian culture. We eat bread or rice; bread accompanies every meal. “Even the Bethlehem Association Beit Al Rajaa – “Casa Della Speranza” – for the blind and people with special needs was hit by the consequences of the Coronavirus: even for them, income depended on external support and tourists. The director of the Association, Salim Zeidan, thanks the Salesians for their help and for the quality of the bread. SALIM ZEIDAN Director Beit Al Rajaa – Bethlehem “Salesian bread lasts two or three days, but we can heat it and it comes back as if it had just come out of the oven. The Salesian oven is one of the oldest in the city and has always maintained the same quality as production.” BASMA GIACAMAN Supervisor of the Basma Center – Beit Sahour “Even if making bread seems a simple thing, for families who do not work and have no income, especially in periods of curfew,

Christian Media Center in Holly Land

Syria – Country increasingly in difficulty. New initiatives to support young people and families

(ANS – Damascus) – The Syrian civil war represents one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. The population has shrunk from 21 million to 17 and today 13 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian support, including the more than 6 million internally displaced people – 28% of whom in the capital Damascus alone – in addition to the 3 million who live in hard-to-reach areas. Furthermore, since mid-March, the Syrian government has begun to apply severe restriction measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Activities across the country are now profoundly impacted by curfews, movement restrictions, market closures and commercial freezes. The costs of primary goods continue to exceed purchasing power and Syrian families are experiencing a moment of unimaginable economic stress.

To the direct effects of the economic crisis are added school-related problems: schools work in fits and starts, and students (from primary school children to university students) are not equipped to follow lessons from home, and are falling further behind in their studies.

Faced with this situation, the spiritual Sons of Don Bosco in Syria, active in Damascus, Kafroun and Aleppo, are by now used to working in emergency conditions, and have taken action to help families who, already tried by years of war, are now facing the effects of the pandemic.

For this reason they have set up two different support programs for those in academic difficulty: one that will benefit 200 children, and another aimed at 180 students in the last years of high school and university.

Along with these school reinforcement projects, a third has been added: economic support to 200 vulnerable families.

Each initiative is carried out with the objective, proper to the Salesian charism, of taking care of the most disadvantaged minors and offering them those opportunities for development that otherwise they could not achieve

Because, as the Syrian Salesian Fr Pier Jabloyan said during a testimony, “whoever sows terror and pain through war is destined to end up in the garbage heap of history. But whoever stays with those who suffer will be remembered forever.”

For more information, visit the website: 

Agency of salesian news

The most beautiful photo: “Don Bosco, priest, father and pastor”

It has been written, and it is absolute truth, that Don Bosco never stopped confessing, even when he was sick, and still a few months before he died he continued to do so. His great joy was that his children were “in the grace of God”. All the boys wanted to confess to Don Bosco and the reason is visible in this, the most beautiful photo for Don Bosco, the one where he shows his identity as a priest. He has a serene face, an attentive gaze, a paternal attitude. In this circumstance, he was confessing the one who will be his second successor at the head of the Congregation: Paolo Albera. The photo was taken by Francesco Serra, with the title “Don Bosco who confesses”, in Turin, in 1861.


Written by: ANS – Agency of Salesian News