1. The Salesian charism: pastoral charity in missionary expansion
- Don Bosco's vocation developed in waves: from the initial thrust towards young souls to that of the ordinary people (achieved by Don Bosco through priestly ministry and Catholic readings) and finally to the missionary horizon ('Look for souls' save many souls in the missions)
- The scope of this holy passion in Don Bosco: the glory of God and love for the Church.
2. Features of the Salesian missions with Don Bosco
- the Salesian mission in its origin is a Divine command (continuing the command of Jesus, in tandem with the Pope whose blessing the Salesians always sought).
- the first objective of the mission is the evangelisation of the poor.
- the second objective of the mission: to build the Church ('let us place our little pebble in the great edifice of the Church' Don Bosco stated in sending out the first missionary expedition).
3. Ecclesial context of Don Bosco's missionary vision
- ecclesiology of the time: presented everything in terms of the universal Church.
- anthropology and ethnology: rather simplistic, lacking cultural depth at the time.
- the central concern: the salvation of souls.
- enthusiasm for the missions and the relaunching of the missionary calling in Italy and in the Piedmont of 1870: nourished by the presence of so many missionary bishops called to attend the First Vatican Council.
4. Typically Salesian characteristics
- Evangelisation, education and human advancement and a preference for the world of youth are the strategies which allow Salesian missionaries to assume the values, hopes and the difficulties of those populations with whom they come in contact.
- Community dimension of the missionary vocation: departures are done in groups (actual authentic expeditions of more than one person), the living is in community, new communities are created, it is the community that does the education and evangelisation. The work of the single 'pioneering person' is referred back to community.
- The work of the single 'pioneering person' is referred back to community
- Youthful courage and creativity: the first missionaries were young and enthusiastic people with Don Bosco. Where such is possible, the formation for many young missionaries takes place in mission territories.
- Oratories and Centres for professional formation are the winning formula in reaching the world of youth in every country on the globe.
- Joint involvement of all groups in the Salesian Family (since Don Bosco's time Circular letters to the Houses and Cooperators, the Salesian Bulletin, first-hand accounts of visiting missionaries are favourable means to inform, enthuse and nourish co-operation and voluntary service).
5. Salesian missionary practice
- First evangelisation - In Latin America, Asia and Africa, the history of the Salesian missions has been the story of first evangelisation. The foundation of Churches has been followed by numerous missionary Vicariates and missionary Dioceses entrusted to the sons of Don Bosco.
- Missionary inculturation - little by little, it has always taken place, favouring the embodiment of the Gospel and of the Salesian charism. Many are the examples in all continents of missionaries who have been fully immersed in the religious and cultural endeavour of the local environment with their missionary practice, research and scientific output.
- Salesian pedagogy and spirituality - Salesian missionary style is characterised by amiability, availability, joy, creativity, courage and work without limit, inspired by a passion for education and the salvation of souls. For so many sons of Don Bosco, that courage and faithfulness has rendered them able to give their lives in martyrdom. For all, the goal of missionary educational work is sanctity.
- Local vocations - Salesians go to the missions to stay there. Pastoral activity is translated into efforts to promote local vocations. Today, two thirds of the novices originate in the Southern Hemisphere, from young Churches and from young Provinces.
- The presence of Mary - This is an essential element. In missionary activity, it is expressed in the popular spreading of the devotion to Mary Help of Christians, in the proper celebration of the principal Marian feasts, in the publication of booklets and images, and in the building of Marian Shrines.
- Missionary co-operation and economic support - The efforts of the Generalate, the Missions Offices, the Provinces of origin, the initiatives of individual missionaries all continue to nourish a history of Salesian generosity and of missionary endeavours.
- Missionary co-operation and lay missionary volunteers - This is a constantly growing reality of Salesian missions on all continents. Ample scope and space is given to long term voluntary effort. In these latter years, side by side with our religious, lay volunteers receive the missionary cross as they depart for the missions, often with their entire families.