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Italy - A "house without walls" welcoming and supporting young people for 25 years

1 month ago

(ANS - Rome) - "Salesians for social work or welfare is a Salesian house without walls. If in 1993 we had not equipped ourselves with this civil instrument, we would not have received all the fruits that have matured across these years." With the words of Fr Stefano Martoglio, Councilor for the Salesian "Mediterranean" region, the 2018 Ordinary Assembly of the "Salesians for Social Work" Federation, the SCS/CNOS, or Civil and Social Services/National Center for Salesian Works, began in Rome last March 16 with over seventy representatives of the institutions that make up the Federation.

The event celebrated 25 years of activities dedicated to Italy's young. "This reality has shown itself to be able to last over the years for its way of operating, but above all, for its method that connects people with the most different states of life (religious and laity) and all this in line with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council," continued Fr Martoglio.

During the morning work sessions, a window was opened on the history of the Federation, established 9 July 1993, which today includes more than 80 non-profit organizations, all inspired and guided by the educational passion of St. John Bosco.

The association has been a pioneer in having immediately believed in the great value of conscientious objection (now Civil Service) and in these months is preparing to face with courage Italy's new regulations regarding associations in its so-called Third Sector Reform.

This reform, in fact, was discussed in the afternoon by the various Delegates who, divided into groups, examined the regulatory changes envisaged by the new Code and by the individual decrees. In the morning, instead, Fr Domenico Ricca, former President of “Salesiani per il Sociale”, together with the Director General of the Federation, Andrea Sebastiani, and then Fr Giovanni D'Andrea, President, had presented its 2017 activities report.

The assembly was also an opportunity to launch the twenty-fifth anniversary celebratory advertising campaign, made by the national headquarters and already broadcast by and across social networks.

Today, through the associated organizations, Salesians for Social animate 33 residential communities (family houses, housing communities, semi-autonomy), 30 day centers and 17 reception centers and support services against addictions, distributed throughout the nation. This work is carried out by over 780 qualified operators, around 100 supporting members and more than 2000 volunteers. 

{gallery}Italia - 25 anni SCS{/gallery}

  • Italia
  • Salesiani per il Sociale
  • Anniversari
    Gian Francesco Romano

    Rwanda - Rector Major's encouragement to Salesian Family

    1 month 1 week ago

    (ANS - Kigali) – Yesterday, March 15, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, the Rector Major, spend the second and last day of his visit to Rwanda almost entirely in Kigali. After the dialogue and mass for young people who came from all over the country, the 10th Successor of Don Bosco spent his time getting to know and encouraging the local Salesian Family.

    In the homily of the Mass for the young - attended by delegations from all the Salesian presences of Rwanda, for a total of about 550 young people - the Rector Major said young people have a bright future ahead, if they continued to put into practice the good values ​​offered by the Salesians. He also thanked the teachers and other adults present at Mass, encouraging them to continue to serve young people on their personal journey of growth. Before dismissing the assembly, he blessed the statue of Mary Help of Christians and that of Don Bosco, offered as a gift by the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Turin.

    The X Successor of Don Bosco then gathered at the House of the Africa-Great Lakes Vice Province (AGL) with the representatives of the six groups of the Salesian Family active in Rwanda: Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesian Cooperators, Volunteers of Don Bosco, Volunteers with Don Bosco and the Association of Mary Help of Christians.

    The Rector Major offered them words of encouragement in the growth of the values of the Gospel and in the Salesian charismatic identity. He mentioned the good collaboration and communion among the groups of the Salesian Family and congratulated each of them for their contribution to the growth of the Salesian Family, and renewed the invitation to always offer a good testimony of the Gospel so that Salesian spirituality may attract young people.

    In mid-afternoon the Rector Major, accompanied by his Secretary, Fr Horacio López, and Fr Américo Chaquisse, Councilor for the Salesian region of Africa-Madagascar, and the Provincial of AGL, Fr Camiel Swertvagher, reached the airport from where he flew to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, the third and last country to be visited.

    Warmly welcomed also on this occasion, Fr Á.F. Artime then reached the Salesian community of Namugongo, near Kampala, where he spent the night.

    All photos of the Visit are available on ANSFlickr. 

    • Rwanda
    • AGL
    • Rettor Maggiore
    • Famiglia Salesiana
    • Ángel Fernández Artime
      Gian Francesco Romano

      Italy - Joy of the Gospel for the young, “no one left behind”

      1 month 1 week ago

      (ANS - Jesolo) - Two grand Sunday celebrations with 400 animators involved, 200 budding artists led by a dozen professionals, twelve thousand young participants and above all … no one left behind, or #nessunoescluso, as per the hastag that accompanies the 2017-2018 pastoral proposal of Italy's Salesian Youth Movement (SYM). In this current year that sees the Church reflecting on and with young people, SYM wanted to highlight the feeling of joyful belonging to the Church via the Youth Festival (March 4) and the Festa dei Ragazzi (11 March) promoted by SYM of North-East Italy.

      Again this year, the Youth Festival gathered around 6,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 30, who belong to the area's Salesian Family.

      After opening remarks of welcome and animation at the Pala Arrex of Jesolo, a show animated by the young of the workshops and "DBLIVE" began with a contribution of several youths of the Bari Oratory, who explored the theme #nessunoescluso.

      After the celebration of Mass and the break for lunch, the celebration became even more animated as it moved outside and opened a whole series of workshops and itineraries organized by associations and territorial realities. Finally, after the last moments of animation together, the second part of the #nessunoescluso show was presented. It closed the day's activities by reiterating the central message of the event: though it may seem out of fashion today, it is, indeed, possible to give and to give oneself without gain or personal advantage, to love in an authentic and sincere way.

      Music, games, shows, exhibitions, workshops, testimonies and animation were also the ingredients of the Festa dei Ragazzi, or the Children's Festival, which took place the following Sunday, always in Jesolo, maintaining the structure and the basic message of the Youth Festival, but adapting it for the 9-14 age group.

      Both events also resonated far and wide on social networks, since for the past three years, young people have been invited to collaborate in spreading the message of the celebrations in what are digital courtyards.

      The purpose of these events is to allow young people to live a Church event wherein to grasp the dimension of faith and the Christian message in all its beauty, in the conviction, as Pope Francis says, that "the joy of the Gospel fills one's whole heart and life."

      Source: Salesiani Nord-Est

      {gallery}Italia - Festa dei Ragazzi 2018{/gallery}

      • Italia
      • INE
      • MGS Movimento Giovanile Salesiano
      • Ragazzi
      • Giovani
        Gian Francesco Romano

        Haiti - "LAKAY Don Bosco": 30 years of joyful service

        1 month 1 week ago

        (ANS - Port-au-Prince) - The Salesian service for Haitian children and youth in difficulty - "LAKAY Don Bosco" - was established in 1988 in Port-au-Prince on the initiative of the Italian Salesian Fr Attilio Stra. The project aimed and still aims to answer to the cry that comes from the hearts of many children, adolescents and young people who are rejected and marginalized and live in situations of neglect, negligence or serious social risk.

        To thank the Lord for these 30 years of joyful service, last Friday, March 9, at the center of La Saline a Eucharist was celebrated, presided by Fr Jean-Paul Mesidor, the Superior of the "Beato Filippo Rinaldi" Vice Province of Haiti. In his homily, Fr Mesidor traced the journey made by the Salesians through the LAKAY project during these past 30 years and he congratulated the older employees who were present from the beginning of this educational and training proposal.

        Currently, the LAKAY project includes 5 facilities in Port-au-Prince and one, divided into two sectors, in Cap-Haïtien. Each of these structures was created in response to the concrete situations in which the children, young people and youths at risk of the two cities find themselves; in total, around 5700 minors and young people benefit from this service thanks to the 57 staff members.

        The centers of the LAKAY project are specialized for the various stages of life and to the types of assistance needed by the beneficiaries. At "Foyer LAKAY", the children live as a family for a period of 4 years until the completion of their apprenticeship in a technical profession, of school education and social education.

        "Look up! Look far!" is the motto of the LAKAY project. And it is a motto that has come to fruition in splendid fruits; many of the young people formed at the project centers have become engineers, educators, teachers and valid workers at local businesses.

        On the occasion of the anniversary, after the Eucharistic celebration, on March 9th there was also a cultural event, the protagonists being the same young people welcomed at the centers of Lakou, Atelye-Lakou, Lakay Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien. Spontaneously, all the beneficiaries expressed their joy for that feast day and also thanked the Salesians of Don Bosco for having taught them to live with dignity and respect.

        {gallery}Haiti - 30 anni Lakay{/gallery}

        • Haiti
        • HAI
        • Opzione Preferenziale
        • Giovani a Rischio Sociale
          Gian Francesco Romano

          Rwanda - The Rector Major: "a young man who has no God within himself cannot be truly happy"

          1 month 1 week ago

          (ANS - Kabgayi) - "You have chosen a very beautiful Congregation, the same one dreamed of by Don Bosco ... Which tries to take care of young people as he did ... A congregation that needs Salesians who are authentic and available." With these words, yesterday, March 14, the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, adressed the Salesian novices of the house "San Luigi Versiglia" of Rango, in Rwanda, where he is for his Animation Visit to the Africa-Great Lakes Region (AGL).

          After meeting with the novices, also yesterday afternoon, the Rector Major reached the Salesian center of Kabgayi to meet the young and members of the Salesian Family and, later, to meet with his confreres of Rwanda.

          To the young, who welcomed him with great tributes and manifesting their joy through art, Fr Á.F. Artime said: "music, songs and dance characterize all the houses of Don Bosco. You are always welcomed by Don Bosco."

          Subsequently, in the meeting with his confreres, the X Successor of Don Bosco congratulated the Salesians of Rwanda for the many pastoral activities brought forth and he also thanked several Salesians from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Province of Central Africa (AFC), as a sign of communion in the mission. In the evening, finally, also the bishop of Kabgayi, mgr. Smaragde Mbonyintege, and members of other orders and congregations, came to the Salesian house to meet Fr Á.F. Artime.

          This morning, Thursday 15, accompanied as always by his Secretary, Fr Horacio López, the Rector Major went to visit the house of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Rugunga, near Kigali, and was welcomed with the usual festive air by the whole educational community. Then, after visiting the museum of the FMA school, he went to the house of the Salesians in Kigali, where there were young people of Salesian presences from all over the country, together with a delegation from Goma, D.R. Congo, AFC Province.

          In the Eucharist that followed, Fr Á.F. Artime indicated to young people the importance of being authentically true Christians: "Don Bosco said that a young man who does not have God within himself cannot be truly happy". In the afternoon the dialogue between the Successor of Don Bosco and the young Rwandans continues with a meeting.

          All photos of the Visit are available on ANSFlickr

          • Rwanda
          • AGL
          • Rettor Maggiore
          • Ángel Fernández Artime
            Gian Francesco Romano

            Mozambique - "Canção Nova" comes to the country to lead "Radio Don Bosco"

            1 month 1 week ago

            (ANS - Moatize) - Canção Nova, 25th group of the Salesian Family, has landed in Mozambique with a specific mission: to manage "Radio Don Bosco" (RDB), a Salesian radio broadcasting station based in Moatize, in the province of Tete . The two missionaries from Canção Nova, Fr Ademir Lucas and the seminarian Lucas Paulino da Silva, arrived in Maputo on the morning of Saturday 10 March. They were received at the airport by Fr Marco Biaggi, Superior of the Mozambican Vice Province (MOZ).

            On the same day, they were introduced to the coordinators of MOZ Social Communication and, after various activities, went to Tete where they will work and live, ie the parish house of the parish "St John Bosco", near the RDB studios.

            Canção Nova is a Brazilian Catholic community founded in 1978, and follows the lines of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Based in the city of Cachoeira Paulista, it has developed an important radio and television system, which extends to other countries such as Portugal, Italy, Israel, France and Paraguay.

            The community was founded by Fr Jonas Abib, having as co-founders, Luzia Santiago and her husband Wellington Jardim. Fr Abib was a member of the Salesian Congregation for several years and then had to leave it to later found the new movement, which on 3 November 2008 obtained pontifical recognition, receiving the approval of the Statutes before the Holy See. On 21 January 2009, finally, the "Canção Nova" Community was officially included among the groups of the Salesian Family.

            RDB, which the two missionaries come to serve, is a Christian radio based on the values ​​of the Gospel announced by Jesus Christ and in communion with the Catholic Church. It is an activity directed and promoted by the Salesians that aims to educate and evangelise young people and popular culture, training and informing to help them grow as "honest citizens and good Christians."

            RDB was launched in 1994 on the initiative of the Salesian Carlos Marques and a group of young people from the Moatize mission, such as "Radio Escuela". The 11 January 2011 it was authorized by the National Institute of Communications of Mozambique to broadcast at Villa de Moatize on a frequency of FM 101.1 Mhz, and has since been officially called "Don Bosco Community Radio."

            • MOZ
            • Mozambico
            • Comunicazione Sociale
            • Famiglia Salesiana
            • Radio Dom Bosco
            • Radio
            • Canção Nova
              Gian Francesco Romano

              RMG - Young scientists at the service of the common good

              1 month 1 week ago

              (ANS - Rome) - Not only good Christians and honest citizens, but also protagonists of innovation and social responsibility. The children who grow up in Salesian schools often distinguish themselves by being able to devise scientific and technological projects that help to build more inclusive and supportive societies. Two new testimonies have just arrived recently from the students of the "Don Bosco" Salesian Institute in Verona, winners of the 2018 edition of the "First® Lego® League Italia", and from students who took part in the 31st edition of the "Premio Nacional Don Bosco" in Spain.

              The team of Veronese Salesian students "Idb Tech-No-Logic" ranked first in the national competition and will therefore participate in the world final in Detroit on 25-28 April 2018.

              All the finalists challenged each other in robotics competitions and in a scientific project that had water as its main subject. Regarding this project, the students from the Salesian team explained: "70% of the world's drinking water is used to irrigate and comes mainly from the public aqueduct or wells. To reduce waste, we decided to take advantage of rainwater, which would normally end up in sewers, and recreated a series of structures commonly found in cities or near gardens with specific criteria to obtain the greatest possible capacity for water collection."

              The Veronese team, formed by 10 students and guided by Luca Zanetti, a computer science teacher, dominated the robotics race with a gap of 30 points on second place, is not new to these results: last season they also qualified for the "First Lego® League International Open" tournament in Bath, England.

              As for Spain, in Zaragoza, in the context of the Nacional Don Bosco Prize, among the numerous projects presented in the competition's various sectors is the one by Alicia Moraza and Daniel Gil, their "bMiMiC". The two participants, students of Telecommunication at the Salesian center of Logroño, led by Professor Diego Villar Cárcamo, won two of the most prestigious of the 14 prizes awarded by the competition: the First Special Prize of the Festo firm and the Special Prize of the Ministry of Defense.

              "BMiCMiC" consists of a trunk and bionic arms, produced through 3D printing, which allow users to manipulate objects at a distance: the prototype is able to replicate the movement of arms, hands and fingers and to imitate the user's movements , proving extremely useful, for example, in managing drones, defusing bombs or performing remote surgeries.

              {gallery}Spagna - Premio Nacional Don Bosco{/gallery}

              • Italia
              • Spagna
              • Scienze
              • Tecnologie
              • INE
              • SSM
                Gian Francesco Romano

                UN - Circular migration, young people and opportunities for development

                1 month 1 week ago

                (ANS - Geneva) – Taking place today, Wednesday, March 14, in Geneva, on the sidelines of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council, is a collateral event entitled "Circular migration and youth", part of a program co-funded by the European Union in a multi-country project called "Co-partners in Development". The event is organized by the NGO International Volunteering for Development (VIS) and by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) and in partnership with "Don Bosco 2000" and the Salesians.

                Among the speakers: Michela Vallarino, Vice-President of VIS, Agostino Sella, President of Don Bosco 2000, Fr Francois Coly, Director of the Salesian house in Tambacounda, Senegal, together with the testimony of Seny Diallo, coordinator of the Don Bosco Center in Tambacounda.

                Barbara Terenzi (VIS Coordinator Human Rights & Advocacy Office), who curated the event, acts as moderator and facilitator for the presentations by the representatives of various territorial Salesian realities: Leslie Tavares, from the Dominican Republic, Meaza Tesfagiorgis, from Ethiopia, Walter Thyrniang, from Zambia, and Gianpaolo Gullotta of VIS in Ghana.

                The event serves both to complete the technical and institutional empowerment of the multi-country project partners and to highlight the positive experience already achieved by Don Bosco 2000 in Senegal with a pilot circular migration project.

                "Circular migration" is today considered one of the most advanced approaches to tackling the issue of migration, especially with regard to young people, the subjects most at risk of irregular migration.

                For this reason, today in Geneva the good practices already implemented in Sicily by different Salesian realities is presented, including an exchange between the reception and formation activities for young migrants and the possibility of their returning to the country of origin enriched by targeted training in sectors such as agriculture, crafts and tourism, so as to start targeted interventions at home and contribute to the sustainable development in and of their own communities. In fact, in Tambacounda today work is being done towards the creation of a vegetable garden of about 1 hectare with organic products, drip irrigation and solar panels.

                The young people trained in Sicily who have returned to their village, in their turn, train their comrades with the aim of getting to replicate this type of business in the neighboring villages and reach consolidated production throughout the year where once the land was cultivated for only a few months during the year. 

                The result, an experience that tends to transform the young migrant into a cooperator who not only informs others about the dangers of irregular migration, but operates in his or her country of origin and contributes to its development.

                • ONU
                • VIS
                • Senegal
                • Migranti
                • ONG
                  Gian Francesco Romano

                  Burundi - Rector Major: "Go and bear witness of the spirit you have received from Don Bosco"

                  1 month 1 week ago

                  (ANS - Ngozi) - Salesians, young people and Salesian Family: in a single day, yesterday, March 13, in Ngozi, the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, met all the main protagonists of the Salesian world in Burundi. Listening and paternal accompaniment were the fundamental traits that characterized each moment of interaction.

                  In the first meeting, in the morning, with his confreres, the Rector Major illustrated the present of the Congregation and the challenges that await it. Then, he encouraged everyone by remembering: "Our Congregation is full of life and becomes progressively more serene."

                  The Rector Major then met with about 1200 young Burundians who told the Rector Major that Salesian schools were well known and much appreciated throughout the country. The X Successor of Don Bosco asked them if they were happy to be students of Don Bosco, and received a choral "yes" from everyone. Expressly addressed to the older students, he exhorted them to: "go and bear witness of the spirit you have received from Don Bosco, in the world of work or in higher education." He concluded by underlining the centrality of those values such as honesty, kindness and generosity, which are not education subjects per se, but fundamental traits of education.

                  Later in the afternoon the Rector Major presided over a Eucharist for the members of the Salesian Family during which he recalled that defining oneself as Christians means "always having God in one's heart".

                  Finally, in a following meeting with the Salesian Family, Fr Á.F. Artime reiterated once again that the Salesian charism is shared with many other groups and people who are committed to doing good for the young. He then answered all the questions of those present - including the requests for a female internship in Ngozi and of a Salesian university in the country, for which he assured them that the Council of the Vice Province of Africa-Great Lakes would verify their feasibility.

                  The day ended with a cultural evening and a fraternal meeting.

                  This morning, March 14, Fr Á.F. Artime reached the Salesian house of Rango, in Butare, in Rwanda, which houses a Vocational Training Center, the oratory and the parish. Again, the festive welcoming committee was waiting for him many kilometers in advance of the Salesian house to give homage to the Successor of Don Bosco with songs and flowers.

                  All photos of the Visit are available on ANSFlickr.


                  • Burundi
                  • AGL
                  • Rettor Maggiore
                  • Ángel Fernández Artime
                  • Visita di Animazione
                    Gian Francesco Romano

                    Venezuela - Urgent support and media silence

                    1 month 1 week ago

                    (ANS - Caracas) - Despite Venezuela's socio-economic state of affairs today presents every feature of a humanitarian crisis and emergency, the news media and the world of information have been largely silent. Last week, a small delegation of Missioni Don Bosco, called by the Salesians of Caracas, visited the country and reported their bleak impressions: a widespread lack of food and medicines, combined with the high inflation rates of recent years, make life unsustainable for most of the population; only those who enjoy government privileges are able to access ordinary purchases, while the value of money is practically nil.

                    On the horizon, political elections this year which have been postponed from April to May due to the difficulty of building at least a semblance of free expression of the voting process. Opposition parties have given up running for what is deemed a democratic farce.

                    The international community, at least to see it from Caracas, seems equally impotent or, worse, complicit: in fact, a Venezuela fast becoming no-man's land, thanks to its inestimable mining resources is a prospect many foreign speculators and powers look forward to.

                    The Salesians, who have developed networks for reception and vocational training for the young - which even in this deep crisis continue to offer concrete perspectives of work in the agricultural and trade sectors - are now faced with a compulsory change of priorities: they must provide children with food without which the children risk not only suffer the pain of hunger, but risk permanent harm to their developing bodies. Before starting a school day or a gathering, in fact, bread and tea are distributed to the children to help them through lessons and school.

                    Even rice and potatoes have now reached extremely high prices. But for the radio and television propaganda, Venezuela has, they say, no problems and if there are any it depends on the "external enemy."

                    Faced with this reality, Missioni Don Bosco immediately started raising funds to help the Salesians who run schools, oratories and soup kitchens for the poor. "We want to guarantee at least one meal a day to all those who come and use the structures our confreres coordinate among a thousand daily difficulties", explained the President of Missioni Don Bosco, Br Giampietro Pettenon, SDB.

                    For more information, visit:

                    • Venezuela
                    • VEN
                    • Missioni Don Bosco
                    • Povertà
                      Gian Francesco Romano

                      India – Time to volunteer, time for discernment

                      1 month 1 week ago

                      (ANS – Ajjanahalli) – “For as long as I can remember I have had an inexplicable desire to be a priest. This desire is not something that comes from me, it is not something I want to do; it is something I feel called to do. For a long time, I supressed that calling, instead, aspiring to a more 'normal' life: school, university and married life like a 'normal' person. It was only when faced with the reality of university – looking up courses, visiting campuses, going on open days – that I realised that this really was not what I wanted to do and that I could not happily pursue such a life”. This is the BOVA volunteer Joe,  who writes about how his experience in India is helping him discern his vocation to the priesthood

                      So, having already accepted to study in Derby, I withdrew my application and entered into a 'gap year'.

                      That gap year has now become two years of 'gap' and I have no regrets. At first, to my mother's dismay, I had no idea what I was planning to do. I knew I wanted to pursue my vocation to enter the priesthood and that I wanted to enter seminary but I felt I wanted more time to discern my calling before making any formal steps. I planned to volunteer with a Catholic organisation as I knew I wanted to spend some time in a religious environment, growing in spirituality and discerning, but also putting into action my faith and doing something proactive. I wanted somewhere far from home, completely outside of my normal life, somewhere I could pursue my faith and vocation unhindered.

                      After a quick internet search, I soon found BOVA, Bosco Volunteer Action, an initiative run by the Salesian province of Great Britain. BOVA send people of all ages for placements in Salesian projects all over the world. By chance the chaplain of my school at the time had been on a year-long placement with BOVA and had told me a little about his experiences, and the co-ordinator of BOVA, Anita, happened to have also been chaplain at my school. BOVA seemed to tick all the boxes for me and so, after two training weekends at Savio House, near Macclesfield, it was arranged that I was to go India for a ten-month placement. I would be going to a project in a village called Ajjanahalli, 40km from the city of Bangalore, in the south-eastern state of Karnataka, and I arrived May, 2017.

                      Even in such a foreign culture, where, at first, I spoke none of the language and was not at all understood, I have come to see that the basic principles of humanity transcend culture and language. The language and cultural barrier has never been so great that it could not be overcome by the politeness, kindness and respect that unite us.

                      We have eighty boys here, and all our work here revolves around them. We are here to serve and care for them. Our work here is not that of a school; the boys go to school during the day in the village. We are a hostel, a home for our boys when their families are unable to care for them. Our boys come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are orphans; some 'semi-orphans', with some relations but no parents; some are rescued from child labour or abuse and come to us through the Child Welfare Committee; some come from Don Bosco centres in the city where they have been rescued from the streets. Those with homes mostly come from the city slums.

                      Coming on placement here I knew I would encounter poverty, and I have, but life here is not as bleak as it sounds. Indeed, every one of these boys and their families would be classified as living in poverty by the Western definition. Even our cooks and staff earn the equivalent of less than £2 a day. Compared to our standards in the UK such a wage sounds unthinkable but material poverty is not a problem here for our boys. They have all the food and clothes they could need. Each and every one goes to school in a clean school uniform with all the equipment they could need. They have books and bedsheets, toys and sport equipment. They want for nothing. What they lack is something that cannot be measured. As our vice-rector, Fr Devassy, once observed to me, our boys' poverty is moral, social, emotional poverty. They suffer from a poverty of love. We care for them to the utmost of our ability but that cannot make up for the family they lack. Many of our boys are a by-product of the industrialisation and globalisation of India, left behind in the slums as parents look for work. Others are victims of parents' reluctance to take on the responsibility of parenthood, instead seeking their own interests first. All are testimony to the tragedy that occurs when family does not take first place in our society.

                      Family is what we try to imitate here; we, the community, are the boys' brothers and fathers. All we do is for them and we try our very best to provide the care, love and attention that they should get from their family but nothing can ever replace that true familial bond. For that reason, wherever possible we try to place boys back in their homes, and we only take boys from whatever family they have is truly desperate circumstances. For me, the greatest opportunity I have been given here is to nurture and develop a relationship with these boys as a friend and a brother. Each day I am inspired by our vice-rector, Fr Devassy, whose love and devotion to the boys is displayed best in the boys' name for him: the don't call him Father but 'appaji' - the local word for Dad or Papa. Indeed, each of the four priests here give me endless inspiration, each living out their vocation in their own way.

                      These last months have been my first experience of life in a community and although life can be difficult at times they have been very fruitful. I am blessed that I have been welcomed so fully and that I have been allowed so much access to the life of the community here. I came here not to escape real life but for a change of pace and for the opportunity to spend some time completely freely and independently, with the goal of growing in my spiritual life. I have been able to do exactly that and in ways that I did not expect. The community here has most of all shown me how to make my work my spiritual life – how to serve God in serving these boys. It is not in quiet prayer time spent in the chapel that I have found myself being drawn closer to God, but in the very work I am here to do. Each day, as I grow in love and strengthen my relationship with these boys, I grow in love for God too. As I left England, I had apprehensions that what I was embarking on was not God's plan for my life, but as I see now how much grace God has given me this year I have no such doubts.

                      As I look to the future, I believe that this time has equipped me better for whatever path God has planned for my life than three years of university could have, and I hope that this step on my journey is a step on the right path towards God's will. There is so much pressure today for young people go to university and do the 'normal thing', and for many that is the right path. But if you, like me, feel you are called to something else I have one thing to say: 'don't be afraid'. Don't be afraid of your vocation. God has something planned for each one of us, and it’s our duty to find out what that plan is and then, when we have found it, to pursue it with all our heart, regardless of the desires of other people. If you are a parent, a teacher, or at all involved with young people I implore you not to stifle vocations but to foster them. We must never put our own desires first but must follow God's will because in that is our true happiness.

                      I have less than three months left here in Don Bosco Ajjanahalli and I pray that they may be as fruitful and grace-filled as the previous ones have been. Please, pray for me as I continue my journey here in India and when I return home. The support I have received from people has been phenomenal. And I am sure that it is only through the prayers of people back home that I have been able to have such a blessed time here in India.


                      • India
                      • Bova
                      • GBR
                      • INK
                      • Vocazioni
                      • Discernimento Vocazionale
                      • Testimonianza
                        Gian Francesco Romano

                        Burundi - The Rector Major reaches Salesian Ngozi center

                        1 month 1 week ago

                        (ANS - Ngozi) - "It's the first time I've been welcomed like this, it's really all very beautiful." This is what Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, the Rector Major, said when he arrived at the "Don Bosco High School" in Ngozi, where he arrived yesterday afternoon, 12 March.

                        Fr Á.F. Artime reached the Salesian center - which houses the secondary school and the student boarding house - accompanied also by his Secretary, Fr Horacio López, and by the Provincial of the "Saint Charles Lwanga" Vice Province of AGL, Fr Camiel Swertvagher.

                        Impatient to meet him, the Salesians, some Past Pupils of Don Bosco and the Salesians Cooperators of Rukago and Ngozi advanced up to 35 km before the community and greeted the X Successor of Don Bosco with great fraternity.

                        When Fr Á.F. Artime arrived proper at the center proper, despite the rain and the darkness of the evening already fallen on the city, he found many young students, teachers, administrative staff and local people all waiting to greet and welcome him. Two students gave him flowers, and the Rector Major passed between two rows of the crowd greeting people, exchanging smiles and making himself available for photographs. Then, inside the school, near the sports fields, he was able to listen to music by some young people of the institute performing with the famous Burundian drum, a peculiar element of national culture, declared Universal Heritage of Humanity.

                        The Rector Major spends the whole day today, March 13, at the center of Ngozi, and as a first appointment he meets the Salesians from all over Burundi.

                        All photos of the Visit are available on ANSFlickr.


                        • Burundi
                        • AGL
                        • Rettor Maggiore
                        • Ángel Fernández Artime
                          Gian Francesco Romano

                          Burundi - "You young are the reason for our presence, you are the reason for the Salesian mission"

                          1 month 1 week ago

                          (ANS - Bujumbura) - In recent weeks, the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, has been paying special attention to the Salesians and the Salesian Family in Africa. After leading the Team Visit to the Salesian region of Africa-Madagascar at the end of February, in Nairobi, Kenya, and following the Animation Visit to the Province of West Francophone Africa, the 10th Successor of Don Bosco has just reached Burundi and the Africa-Great Lakes Vice Province (AGL).

                          Thanks to the arrival of Fr Á.F. Artime, yesterday, Sunday 11 March, the Regional Councilor for Africa-Madagascar, Fr Américo Chaquisse, and the Provincial of the "Saint Charles Lwanga" Vice Province of AGL, Fr Camiel Swertvagher have also reached Bujumbura, Burundi's capital.

                          The Rector Major, accompanied as always by his Secretary, Fr Horacio López, landed on time, 9:40 local time today, at the international airport of Bujumbura, where he was welcomed by several Salesians of the Buterere community and Salesian past pupils.

                          On reaching the house of Buterere, before many young people, animators and teachers of the Salesian centers there to welcome him, the Rector Major enthused, "You young are the reason for our presence, you are the reason for the Salesian mission." He then spoke words of encouragement towards girls and young people, reminding them they were very important in families and in society as a whole.

                          The young people of the Vocational Training Center, in particular, expressed all their desire to remain by the Successor of Don Bosco's side throughout the day and only agreed to return to their lessons after obtaining some photos and a blessing from Fr Á.F. Artime.

                          Then the Rector Major was accompanied on a visit to the Marian shrine being constructed at the center where the engineer in charge illustrated the construction plans of the entire building site to him.

                          This week, the Rector Major visits all three countries that make up the AGL Vice Province (Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda) and will undertake the return journey to Salesian Headquarters on Saturday 17 March.

                          The AGL Social Communication team has created a special site for the Rector Major's visit.

                          All photos of the Animation Visit are also on ANSFlickr.

                          • Burundi
                          • AGL
                          • Rettor Maggiore
                          • Ángel Fernández Artime
                          • Visita di Animazione
                            Gian Francesco Romano

                            Syria - "I am writing to you in these days always full of death and suffering"

                            1 month 1 week ago

                            (ANS - Damascus) - The Salesian oratory in Damascus has entered its fourth week of forced closure: a totally unnatural condition for a place dedicated to socializing and educating young people, but necessary for the dangers that run in the city. Many are the Syrians who have fled during these past seven years of war and this haemorrhage of the local population and forces continues to this day. From the Salesian center in the Syrian capital the center's Director shares a new, bitter letter.

                            Dear brothers and sisters, I write to you always from Syria. I am Fr Mounir Hanachi, Director of the Salesian community in Damascus. I am writing to you these days full of death and suffering for the Syrian people, who are suffering for the war.

                            By now we are about to start the eighth year of this fierce war, which has caused so many deaths and displaced persons inside and outside Syria. Dear Brothers, death continues in Damascus in these past weeks after the powerful assault of the Syrian national army to free the Eastern Ghouta, area inhabited by rebels for over 5 years. The capital has suffered so much in these years by mortar fire and missiles that came over the schools and over the houses, and caused so many deaths of innocent children and civilians. We Salesians have suffered a lot for this and we have been forced several times to close the doors of our oratory and youth center before more than 1,200 young people and children who try to come to our center to find a place of serenity and peace.

                            In recent weeks the war in Eastern Ghouta has intensified. This is the fourth week of the closing of the Salesian oratory, and the children are closed inside their homes, the schools closed and life in the capital semi-paralyzed.

                            In recent years we have lost so many families and so many young people who have gone out of Syria seeking refuge abroad, and now the families that did remain are also beginning to look for ways out of Syria.

                            I invite all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to pray for Syria, the cradle of Christianity, and let us remember Damascus during these months. May the Lord give us His peace, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, who will protect us and protects the children of Syria under her cloak.

                            • Siria
                            • MOR
                            • Violenze
                            • Guerra
                              Gian Francesco Romano

                              Morocco - Ordination of Archbishop of Rabat, Msgr. Cristóbal López, SDB: "The principle service ... is the service of love"

                              1 month 1 week ago

                              (ANS - Rabat) – On Saturday 10 March, Fr Cristóbal López Romero, SDB, was ordained as the new archbishop of Rabat, archdiocese which includes most of Morocco. Held in the city's cathedral, at the celebration, religious authorities of various parts of the world took part, including the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, and a group of Salesians, besides the elderly father of the new archbishop.

                              Mons. Romero, 65, had as his main consecrator cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, who arrived in Rabat specifically for the occasion. The cathedral, crowded as in only a few occasions, was filled with faithful of European and sub-Saharan origins, since it is forbidden for Moroccan Christians to attend Mass.

                              On behalf of local institutions, the Wali (Governor) of Rabat-Salé, the President of the Ulema Commission and several representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with numerous diplomats, also took part.

                              During the Ordination Ceremony, in French and Spanish, with some prayers in various European and African languages, Cardinal Omella reminded the new archbishop that his work would consist mainly in assisting sub-Saharan emigrants and students in Morocco who in the last few years have become the main segment of the population in the country's Catholic churches.

                              But Cardinal Omella also twice specified that this work had to be carried out "without any form of proselytism", with reference to the Moroccan Penal Code expressly prohibiting any activity consisting in "diverting Muslims from their faith", for which in the past,  there have been cases of foreigners being extradited from the country.

                              Mons. López Romero Romero received his ministry as a bishop from his predecessor, French archbishop Msgr. Vincent Landel, who worked in the Archdiocese of Rabat for 19 years.

                              With few but significant words, the new archbishop of Rabat said, "I have come to love you. The principle service that I must offer you is not organizing activities, directing parishes or undertaking pastoral initiatives, but rather the service of love."

                              And he concluded with a sentence: "My roadmap will have Pope Francis as a point of reference."


                               {gallery}Marocco - Ordinazione mons Lopez{/gallery}

                              • Marocco
                              • Cristóbal López
                              • Ordinazioni Episcopali
                              • Rettor Maggiore
                              • Ángel Fernández Artime
                                Gian Francesco Romano

                                Mozambique - Fr Filiberto González speaks on Salesian presence in social networks

                                1 month 1 week ago

                                (ANS - Maputo) - Since January 28th, the General Councilor for Social Communication, Fr Filiberto González, has been on Extraordinary Visitation to the "Mary Help of Christians" Vice Province of Mozambique (MOZ). On the morning of Saturday, March 10, Fr González animated a formative moment for the coordinators of the Social Communication of MOZ, which was also attended by several representatives of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Mozambique and members of the Province of Angola. The meeting opened with the prayer of Fr Francisco Pescador Hervás, Vicar of MOZ.

                                "I come on behalf of the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, to evaluate the status of the charism, mission and Salesian charismatic identity here in Mozambique, especially among my Salesian brothers and also with the laity, who are the great collaborators of the Salesian mission," said Fr González in his presentation.

                                Then he gave life to the formation session, divided into two parts: in the first, he spoke about the message of Pope Francis for the 52nd World Communications Day, entitled "The truth will make you free (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism of peace."

                                A brief interval followed during which the Provincial, Fr Marco Biaggi, presented the two missionaries of Canção Nova, Fr Ademir Costa and the seminarian Lucas Paulino da Silva, who had just arrived from Brazil. Canção Nova, the 25th group of the Salesian Family, has just begun its presence in Africa, from Mozambique.

                                In a second moment, the General Councilor addressed the theme of the "Salesian Presence in the Social Networks", Proceedings of the General Council 423 of the Salesian Congregation, a theme chosen by the participants themselves. "Communication is one of the three great pillars of Salesian identity," said the General Councilor. "We are evangelizers, educators and communicators of God's love for the young. We help young people to see the essence of each person. It is not about teaching to read or do math, but about helping to show young people that every person is the face of God."

                                For this reason, Father González underlined the importance of the correct use of social networks and the concern of the Congregation so that not only the Salesians of Don Bosco, but all lay collaborators use social networks with proper awareness and understanding. "This is why this moment is also historical, because we have here two Vice Provinces: Mozambique and Angola, Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and lay collaborators," he concluded.

                                • MOZ
                                • Mozambico
                                • Filiberto González
                                • Comunicazione Sociale
                                  Gian Francesco Romano

                                  RMG – 9 March 2018: 161st anniversary of dies natalis of St Domenico Savio

                                  1 month 2 weeks ago

                                  (ANS - Rome) - Remembering Saint Domenico Savio in this special year that the Church dedicates to young people is significant because not only was he a model and an example for his companions at the Valdocco oratory, but he also knew how to embody the role of a team captain or leader, a sort of teacher in the ways of God (as Don Bosco also saw him in the dream of Lanzo in 1876). The confirmation of this comes from the life of various Blesseds, Venerables and Servants of God who made the proposals of Domenico their own: Laura Vicuña, Zephirino Namuncurà, Giuseppe Kowlaski, Alberto Marvelli, Giuseppe Quadrio, Ottavio Ortiz Arrieta.

                                  And not only in the Salesian world. In recent days, Pope Francis acknowledged the martyrdom of a young Slovak girl, Anna Kolesárová, called Anka, a young woman from the Archdiocese of Košice, who lived a calm and peaceful existence until the soldiers of the Red Army occupied her native village, Vysoka nad Uhom. She left a shelter where she was with her family to feed a soldier who turned on her; she repeatedly rejected his assaults and prepared to die rather than give herself to him.

                                  She was shot on 22 November 1944, at the age of sixteen, pronouncing the names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Anna's mortal remains lie in the cemetery of her village, surmounted by a plaque that shows, in addition to the usual data, the motto of St. Domenico Savio, which she incarnated decisively: "Death, but not sins."

                                  • RMG
                                  • Domenico Savio
                                  • Santità Salesiana
                                  • Santità
                                    Gian Francesco Romano

                                    Haiti – Don Bosco Prep Students Assist Missionaries of the Poor in Mission Trip

                                    1 month 2 weeks ago

                                    (ANS – Cap-Haitien) – Over the winter break in February, four students from Don Bosco Prep High School in Ramsey, N.J., along with their chaperones — Fr. Paul Chu, Bro. Travis Gunther, Salesian candidate John Castonguay, and two parents — traveled to Haiti to spend the week assisting the Missionaries of the Poor in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

                                    by Jennifer Passerino

                                    The trip was led by Fr. Matthew DeGance, director of St. Philip Benizi Parish in Belle Glade, Fla., who began Haiti mission trips while at Don Bosco three years ago. Eight young adults from Fr. Matt’s parish also participated in the mission-service project.

                                    The main days of the trip were spent at the Missionaries of the Poor in Cap-Haitien, where there is an adult community as well as a children’s house. The 80 members of the adult community have some form of physical disability, some also a mental disability. The students spent their time feeding and communicating with the adults, as well as helping with shaving their beards, cutting their hair, and clipping their nails.

                                    The children’s home housed about 30 kids with a full range of abilities and disabilities. The boys helped bathe the children, some of whom were completely helpless and needed assistance with both bathing and dressing. The students also played with the kids and assisted with feeding them.

                                    With both groups the boys shared smiles, laughs, and prayers. “It was nearly impossible to see the weakness of those we served and not recognize our own weaknesses,” said Bro. Gunther.

                                    There were several other events that profoundly affected the DBP youths. The students witnessed two funerals, one for a little boy and one for an elderly woman, assisting in her burial. They were humbled by the dignity with which the community embraced the deceased in prayer and reverence.

                                    The group also shared a visit with Fr. Stra, a Salesian working with the street children near the Salesian compound. One of the most poignant lines he shared with them was about the moment in his life when he saw how the street children were treated and thought, “I will no longer give money to them, I will give my life.”

                                    {gallery}Haiti - Viaggio missionario ragazzi DB Prep{/gallery}

                                    • Haiti
                                    • SUE
                                    • Stati Uniti
                                    • Giovani
                                    • Volontariato
                                      Gian Francesco Romano

                                      Myanmar – Myitkyina Vocational Training Center as Project SMD 2018

                                      1 month 2 weeks ago

                                      (ANS – Myitkyina) – On the last week of February, the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Myitkyina celebrated another batch of graduates of Don Bosco VTC when 25 boys and 18 girls received their diplomas and concluded their year-long educational journey with Don Bosco. We are happy to share with the worldwide Salesian Family the Project chosen for the Salesian Mission Day 2018 about 'Whispering the Gospel' in Asia, with a focus on the Vocational Training Centers.

                                      At present, there is a small SDB community with four Salesians, four Sisters of St. Paul (local Congregation founded by Salesian Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon) and 8 part-time (volunteer) teachers/instructors (Catholics, Buddhists and other beliefs) working together in the VTC of Don Bosco, which also features room and board, now with a 20-year history.

                                      There are different sections being offered: Carpentry (3 students), Welding (6), Electricity (4), Automotive (12), Tailor & Dressmaking (17) and Beautician (1).

                                      Since the VTC is located in the northernmost part of Mynamar (Kachin State) with a very long history of armed conflict, there are among the students a few orphans or children from broken families. The Salesians are happy that 22 of 25 boys who graduated were immediately employed according to their respective trades while three went back to help their families in the rural zones.

                                      The Salesians have many future dreams: “We would like to increase one trade section each for boys and girls, possibly in Computer Science. There is also an urgent need for two buildings: a one-story building for the library and the study hall and another one for the new Computer section. And we also need more adequate textbooks for all seven VTC sections,” says Fr Victor Nawki, in charge of the community.

                                      The whole structure of the VTC is made in timber, a wooden construction, with few walls made of bricks or cement, so they would also like one day to expand the boarding house to help the graduates, too, who already have jobs but have no place to stay in the town of Myitkyina.

                                      “And, of course, we dream also one more future step: to upgrade the VTC to a Secondary Technical school. We are happy to receive any help through our Provincial Economer Fr. Leo Mang,” concludes Fr Nawki.

                                      Source: AustraLasia

                                      • Myanmar
                                      • MYM
                                      • Giornata Missionaria Salesiana
                                      • Formazione Professionale
                                        Gian Francesco Romano

                                        RMG - "Adveniat Regnum Tuum": the episcopal motto of the nominated archbishop of Rabat, mgr. Cristóbal López

                                        1 month 2 weeks ago

                                        (ANS - Rome) - With a Mass and subsequent sharing with members of the Provincial House of Seville, the recently appointed Archbishop of Rabat, Morocco, the Salesian Msgr. Cristóbal López, SDB, offered his greetings to his confreres as Provincial of the Province of Spain-Mary Help of Christians. He then travelled to Rome to meet the Rector Major, and later, the Holy Father. Next Saturday, 10 March, he will be ordained in the presence of the same Fr Ángel Fernández Artime. Below, his choices for the motto and the episcopal coat of arms.

                                        In a sense, a bishop's motto also represents a pastoral program: "Adveniat Regnum Tuum" (Your Kingdom Come) is the motto chosen by Msgr. López who explains it thus: "It expresses my conviction that the Lord calls me and calls the whole Church to be a sign and an instrument at the service of building the Kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of peace and justice, freedom and equality, of life and truth, of love and solidarity."

                                        "I understand that in many parts of the world this phrase is conceived as the mission to make the Church great, so that there are more Christians, more vocations or more chapels ... The mission is not to make the Church, but to build the Kingdom of God, full of peace, justice, freedom, life, truth and love."

                                        The emblem itself features many profound meanings, but there is one especially worth emphasizing. "Some waves cross the lower part of the coat of arms, reminiscent of the presence of the sea in Almería, his native province; in Badalona, where he lived; and now in his new destination, Rabat. But that double groove or wave also wants to recall the meaning of 'bridge': Kenitra, a Moroccan city where Fr López was Director of the local Salesian school, in fact means 'little bridge'. All this therefore symbolizes a bridge between Europe and Africa, Muslims and Christians, North and South, rich and poor."

                                        The appointed archbishop of Rabat will be consecrated on 10 March at 10:30 in the cathedral of Sant-Pierre in the Moroccan capital. To consecrate him there will be the cardinals Omella (Barcelona) and Amigo (emeritus of Seville), and the Apostolic Nuncio in the country, mgr. Vito Rallo. In addition, 16 other bishops are expected, including four Salesians: Olaverri (Point-Noire, Congo), Nguema Bee (Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea), Biord (La Guaira, Venezuela) and Godayol (emeritus of Ayaviri, Perú). Finally, about 75 priests will concelebrate and about a hundred people from Spain are also expected.

                                        • RMG
                                        • Vescovi
                                        • Cristóbal López
                                        • SMX
                                          Gian Francesco Romano
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                                          ANS - Agenzia Info Salesiana. Periodico plurisettimanale telematico, organo di comunicazione della Congregazione Salesiana