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Chronique du Recteur Majeur

Au début de chaque année, le Recteur Majeur des Salésiens propose un thème à toute la Famille salésienne. Cette tradition remonte à Don Bosco lui-même. Cette année Don Pascual Chavez nous invite à accueillir, promouvoir et défendre la vie, don de Dieu. Chaque mois, sous cette rubrique, le 9ème successeur de Don Bosco commente un aspect de ce thème. En présentant cette « étrenne », Don Chavez s’exprimait ainsi :

 « Je propose à toute la Famille Salésienne de se laisser guider par ce Dieu qui aime la vie et par son amour pour la vie et de s’engager avec détermination dans la défense et dans le développement de cette vie.



    STRENNA 2009

      by Pascual Chávez Villanueva        JULY  2009                          



Solidarity is shown through… the civil, social and missionary volunteer movement…It constitutes for the individual a possible significant vocation of commitment. Understood as willingness to devote time to the advancement of promotional, educative and pastoral initiatives, it leads persons to the sharing of responsibility. (CMS 20)

Speaking about the “Salesian Family” today is to describe a certain “sense of citizenship.” The expression is not found in Don Bosco’s “terminology,” but it is present in his heart and in the spirit of everything he did. There can be no doubt that for our Father the centre and purpose of his whole life was the mission received from God which he saw taking shape more and more clearly following his dream at nine years of age, without that dispensing him from the obligation, which at times was difficult and painful, of discerning the path it was to take and discovering the means to put it into practice. The various activities and work Don Bosco undertook, including the founding of his Congregation, and with Mary Mazzarello, that of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians were not an end in themselves, but  a way of carrying out the mission. Describing the charism as “Salesian” rather than suggesting any sense of direct descent indicates a spirit and a style of action inspired by the loving kindness of Saint Francis of Sales. It is possible to think of a movement as formed by concentric circles at the centre of which is the  “animating nucleus” which is the FMA and the SDB consecrated religious. Certainly the tiny seed has become a large tree and this a wood. In the 2009 Strenna I expressed the very practical form of our mission in this way: “Let us commit ourselves to making the Salesian Family a vast movement of persons for the salvation of the young”.


¢ We are then a “family”, not a “work group”; a family which lives in communion and has a mission, like a heart that beats with a double rhythm, the systolic and  the diastolic, the two alternatives which cannot be separated without losing  their identity. Two documents point the way: the Common Identity Card and the Common Mission Statement. Communion points us towards an affective relationship, an appreciation of individuals and of groups, it speaks of doing things together  and conviviality. The mission reminds us that it is not a question of just “being together” as on mount Tabor, but of working in harmony for the education and the evangelisation of the young. The clearest example of this dialectic union is to be found in the Past Pupils’ belonging to the Salesian Family. The Salesian Constitutions say that thy “are also members [of the SF] by reason of the education they have received” (SDB.C. 5). No one who has been in one of our houses or centres can be “rejected”, something unthinkable in a family. “The bonds are closer when they commit themselves to take an active part in the Salesian mission in the world” (ibidem): in a family the collaboration of everyone in the common mission is no small matter. Speaking about a “movement” underlines the dynamism of the mission and recalls the passage in the gospel which describes Jesus walking towards Emmaus with two disciples; the disciples for us are the young: we are called to accompany them to Jesus, the only one who can give meaning to their lives. 

¢ All of this we are doing in the much wider perspective of the universal Church, and in more practical terms within the local Church. Francis of Sales is considered an innovator when he presents holiness as the aim of every Christian. Don Bosco puts the emphasis on the right/duty of collaborating in the Church according to the Salesian charism. The Second Vatican Council highlights  the apostolate of the laity and the vocation to holiness. Indeed “Every Christian is either an apostle or an apostate!” (Leon Bloy). The GC241 reflected on the common mission, in the face of the danger of a “monopolising of the mission” by the consecrated religious, while re-affirming their indispensable role  as the “animating nucleus”. We Salesians form part of this nucleus, though not in an exclusive manner. The lay people who share with us the Salesian mission and spirit are not merely collaborators but people who are co-responsible even if on different levels. Nowadays a great variety of groups and associations for voluntary service have developed; the GC24 saw in this situation a new way of being aware of others, a challenge to confront the dominant injustices and selfishness, a significant vocational option and the complement of the educational process2. Voluntary service continues to expand in some Regions. Local and national service, missionary, social and vocational service is developing  especially in America; in others international and missionary voluntary service has developed (Europe); while others are welcoming volunteers (Africa and Asia). Salesian voluntary service is a well-worthwhile opportunity for young people who have been involved in pursuing the youth ministry process as it helps them to make mature decisions about their option for a committed Christian life and it often becomes the occasion to make contact with and provides evangelisation opportunities for young people outside our own centres. In the end, what counts is the salvation of youth.           









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