For the education of young Slovenians in the style of Don Bosco
We pray that educators may be credible witnesses, teaching fraternity rather than competition and helping the youngest
and most vulnerable above all.
[Prayer intention of Pope Francis]
There is no greater gift than that feeling of being called by Jesus to participate, together with many others, in his ever fascinating mission of making his love present to the people we meet every day.
This gift allows us to recognize the gratuity of the Lord's love for each of His creatures. It commits us, as educators, to live every day as people in love with life. It commits us to making visible the love that lights up hearts. It pushes us to celebrate the joy of meeting each other, and arouses hope. It opens our eyes to discover the beauty and simplicity that fill our existence with meaning and wonder. I hope that this certainty will always push us to go forth!
▀ Sr. Ruth del Pilar Mora
General Councilor for the missions, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians
In the Salesian tradition, missions and the education of young people are linked in three ways which complement each other. Don Bosco made his choices clear as to his missionary strategy – open schools and institutes of education and thus, first of all, attract young people through Salesian goodness and empathy. Subsequently, through the education of their children, Salesians would arrive at talking about religion with their parents as well. He saw that, in the missions, education would make a great impact on the entire society because young people with a good Christian education would themselves go on to bring the good news to their own tribe, nation or culture, who would gladly accept God's word from such preachers.
The missionary choice also shaped the life of Salesian schools. The Rector Major Filippo Rinaldi reminded the Salesians: "Continue to cultivate this missionary spirit in Salesian houses because it bears excellent fruit for the benefit of the students themselves. An apostolic and missionary passion is one of the most effective means of forming the hearts of young people in lofty and holy affections, distracting them from self-centred sentimentality. Furthermore, it is a means that reminds them of the reality of life and the poverty of this world, makes them appreciate the good of having received a Catholic education, in the light and civilization of the Gospel, and thus encourages them to correspond to the vocation of a life spent for others.
At the same time in another part of the world, the missionary Vincenzo Cimatti confides in one of his letters the need to allow himself to be educated and transformed by the mission entrusted to him: "The more we love the people to whom we are sent, the more we will become like them in everything. In my view, this has not yet been reached by past and present missionaries. If this does not happen, I am sure that the conversion of Japan will still be many centuries away... It is certain that until our spirit is Japanese, we will not succeed."
▀ Fr. Michal Vojtáš, SDB,
Vice-Rector of the Salesian
Pontifical University Rome (UPS)
Dear confrere, what do you like most about Slovenia and Slovenians?
JH: What I like the most in Slovenia are its people. People here are open, friendly, caring and kind, especially the Salesian confreres. When I came here, everything was strange for me to start with. My confreres were patient to guide me, to love me and to take care of me so that I could integrate well into the new environment. They became my models and my missionaries.
VL: Slovenia is a small country in central Europe. Its population is only above 2 million people, but it is blessed with plenty of beautiful landscapes, lakes, romantic sceneries, historical sites and so on. This got me interested and I love its nature. Slovenians are open-minded and approachable; the youngsters, in particular, are so active and kind. This makes me feel at home and comfortable when I meet, communicate, and work with them.
As regards the Salesian style of functioning, what do you see as the biggest difference between Vietnam and Slovenia?
JH: The biggest difference is in their role in programmes. In most of programmes for the young, Slovenian Salesians act as supporters and companions rather than as leaders. In Vietnam, by contrast, the Salesians play the role of leaders, and they are the key decision-makers of much of the programme.
VL: The biggest difference between Vietnam and Slovenia is the mode of education. Slovenian Salesians make young people protagonists and very active, while in Vietnam they pay more attention to helping young people to live a life of sacrifice and service. In addition to creating many activities for the boys, the Salesians of Vietnam also strongly emphasize prayer and daily Mass. This is also why Vietnam still has many vocations and many young people would like to be religious or priests.
What is the greatest help for you to integrate and grow into the Slovenian Salesian reality?
JH: What I see as most important right now are humility and simplicity like a child, readiness to learn, accept, and become part of the Slovenian Salesian family.
VL: I need a community in which my confreres pray constantly, who respect, share and confirm others in fraternal love. I believe this would unite all conferrers and they will live in the same spirit of Don Bosco.