Excellency Monsignor .........
Excellency Lord Mayor .........
My dear Salesian brothers, my dear Salesian sisters, dear Salesian cooperators and cooperators, dear Salesian Family as a whole, my dear young people, dear friends and friends present here:
Be all welcome to this celebration of celebration, of joy, on the day we give beginning at the Bicentenary of the birth, on this same hill, of John Bosco, of our Don Bosco, proclaimed "Father and Teacher of Youth" by His Holiness John Paul II (today St. John Paul II) in the centenary year of his death.
With the words that I will shortly express, I want to do nothing more than give one more voice to what will become our act of prayer, our prayer on this day, which today's liturgy proposes to us as a song of gratitude and thanksgiving to "Great and merciful God" for "having aroused in the Church St. John Bosco as a friend, brother and father of youth", just as we will proclaim in the preface of the Eucharist.
A Don Bosco that with its charisma we feel as a gift from the Father to the Church and to the world. A Don Bosco who has been formed over time, from when he was in the arms of his mother Margherita, then through friendship with good teachers of life, gradually shaping his own heart as a Good Shepherd, imitating the Good Teacher Jesus, in life daily spent among young people.
That boy, Giovanni Bosco, who grew up on the hills of the Becchi, had felt deep in his heart that his life would not be spent only among the rows of vines, the hay in the fields, when there were so many children and young people who were like sheep without a shepherd. That boy, Giovanni, soon had a Teacher for his whole life, a Lady, the Madonna, who would have accompanied him, enlightened, led, until the elderly Don Bosco, now consumed, was heard to say that his life had to be spent to the last gram of strength, and that you would have made it all possible.
That boy, Giovanni, also had at his side a mother who generously, with the renunciation of the beating of her heart, with a stupendous mother-son complicity, did everything possible so that this beloved son, on whom he saw that God had already placed his gaze, did not remain between the hay and those few animals that the family possessed. That same mother, who when life gave her the opportunity to enjoy the joys of being a grandmother, and seeing the sun set for the Becchi, had no doubt, looking at the Crucifix, to leave her home to be the mother of the "mischievous" of Don Bosco, until his last breath.
A Don Bosco fashioned in this way is the one who as "father and teacher of youth" (prayer of the collection) is a sign of the Providence of God that, "inspiring every good purpose" (solemn blessing) never allows that in his Church they are lacking men and women who actualize the Gospel and the Mystery of the Incarnation.
Docile to this action of the Spirit, Don Bosco sought and welcomed every boy who did not have a home, a home, a father or a mother. Among those same young people he invited the most generous to become collaborators of his work, thus giving rise to the Society of Saint Francis of Sales ; together with Maria Domenica Mazzarello founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians ; with good lay Christians, both men and women, he formed the Association of Salesian Cooperatorsto consolidate and support that project of God in favor of young people, thus anticipating the new forms of apostolate in the Church, up to, through the action of the Holy Spirit himself, this reality which today is the Salesian Family in the Church and in the World, a great tree whose roots extend into all parts of the earth, being a source of hope, of profound humanity and salvation for many boys, girls, young people and people of the people of God.
Don Bosco makes the phrase "Give me the people, goods take them for you "( Genesis 14,21), his maxim of life" Da mihi animas, cetera tolle ",with an educational style and a pastoral practice based on reason, religion and kindness. This will be his "Preventive System". It brought young people to a human maturity, to an encounter with Christ, to education in the faith, to the celebration of the sacraments, to deeply live one's condition as young people capable of using their best energies in the professional field and within civil society , as well as in service to others.
His "union with God" and his incessant trust in Mary Help of Christians, whom he felt to be the inspiration and supporter of all his work, have always given him the strength for an incessant donation of himself to work for his young people, seeking only their good, their happiness, here and for Eternity.
Our God, just as the prophet Ezekiel had announced ( Ez 34,11), made Don Bosco a shepherd for the young, a shepherd who would lead them to good pastures, (the pastures of growth like real men and women, like children of God). It was for each of those young men a shepherd and the Lord was for all their God and their flock, as we read in the oracle of the prophet.
In the same way Christ the Lord, the Good Shepherd, continues to make his saving presence felt in the Church by raising pastors with his own good heart, to whom he entrusts his flock, and this is why the celebration of this Bicentennial is not just contemplation and admiration of the figure of Don Bosco, but it is also an imitation and a commitment to life for all of us present here now, who commit ourselves to take on the legacy that Don Bosco himself left us. The Bicentennial is a beautiful opportunity, and at the same time a challenge, to live the presence among the boys and girls of the world with educational and apostolic passion, recognizing in their lives the gift of God for us and the action of the Spirit in everyone of them, sharing their dreams, expectations, desires and problems, and helping them to experience that as educators, brothers,happy now and for Eternity . Amen.