To their Excellencies
Mons. Guido Fiandino
Auxiliary Bishop of Turin
Mons. Francesco Guido Ravinale
Bishop of Asti
Dott. Pier Luigi Faloni
Prefect of Asti
I would like to thank you for your participation here at Colle Don Bosco and for the words of greeting you addressed to me on this opening day of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco.
I also greet all the civil and religious authorities present, the members of the Salesian Family, the inhabitants of Castelnuovo and the neighboring countries, friends and particularly boys, girls and young people.
It was only right that the opening of this event, which is celebrated all over the world today, took place here in the Becchi, where Don Bosco's birthplace is; where he worked as a child in the fields around here; where he lived the first experiences of faith and apostolate, where he grew up in the midst of economic and family difficulties. Your presence honors this celebration, but above all recognizes the gift that God has given to this land and to the young people of the whole world in the person of Don Bosco.
Going back to the Becchi is going to the source. This is the land of dreams. We cannot forget our origin: Don Bosco's charism arose here. All of us, members of the Salesian Family, were born here. We cannot guard our identity unless we remember our roots. The humble and poor beginnings, the trusting abandonment in God, the constancy in overcoming the trials contrast with the subsequent development of Don Bosco's work, which smacks of prodigious and unexpected. Thus the dream comes true. The simple and poor lifestyle must continue to characterize us; for this we must continually return here to learn how to live the charism of Don Bosco today.
Giovanni Bosco is the son of the farmers Francesco Bosco and Margherita Occhiena. When he was two, his father contracted severe pneumonia which led to his death at the age of 33. Francesco Bosco left his widowed wife at 29, with three children to raise: Antonio, son of his first wife, Giuseppe and Giovanni; furthermore the mother had to provide for the maintenance and assistance of her mother-in-law: Margherita Zucca, elderly and infirm. They were years of famine and "Mamma Margaret", as will always be called by the Salesians, had to struggle and work the fields with great sacrifice to ensure sustenance for the family and also to support the scholastic talents of John, disliked by his half-brother Antonio, whom he considered time and money thrown that dealing with books, while he was forced to hoe the earth.
During this year, especially you who live nearby and keep this precious memory, you can return to the Becchi and draw on this story to inspire the choices of your life. This is my wish to all of you. Don Bosco inspires us and intercedes for us.
His Excellency Sig Mayor, civil, military and religious authorities present, FMA Salesian brothers and Sisters, citizens of Castelnuovo and parishioners of this community.
I would like to respond to the greeting you addressed to me, in a simple but official way. In a familiar but authoritative way, to emphasize once again the moment in which we find ourselves, in the beginning of the Bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco. In my being the 10 successor of Don Bosco, first of all I thank all of you for what you have done, do and will do, in union with the local church and the Salesian family, for this Bicentennial event.
An event so desired and prepared by you, by the people of this land, by all of us, as an event of grace and divine Blessing in the name of this great believer who is Saint John Bosco.
Your country, which you so authoritatively represent, bears the name of John Bosco in his own name, so that such that Don Bosco's birthplace is identified in its entirety in this great saint, to the point of inserting it into his own civil name, in a full identification.
And it is with this name that all of us, who are not fortunate enough to be from here, know you all over the world! This country is unique in its kind, for having generated several of its children to Holiness, with a prolificacy that no other country in the world, in relation to the number of the population, can boast.
This blessing, this presence of God, certified in the Castelnovese saints, is a harbinger of this bicentennial of all the good possible, of profound spiritual renewal, of appropriation of one's baptism, of faith in God ... strong and robust, as Don Bosco teaches us.
Our holy founder, son of this land and rich in the virtue of his people, would not have wanted long and smoky speeches, but the solidity of a strong and rich faith, solid and concrete ... a faith that leads us to Heaven. From this land, from these people Don Bosco drew spiritual children, as his first collaborators, and God gave him an example of youthful holiness that was formed at the Valdocco school. And this flow of presence of Don Bosco here, and of Castelnovesi among his spiritual sons and daughters, has never stopped.
In your country, dear Castelnovesi, your fellow citizen Giovanni Bosco, has drawn from the true root of this people, the root of faith, of industrious charity that Don Bosco has learned right here from his Mother, from the whole Christian community, from the priests here first they accompanied him in the discernment of his own Christian life and of his own vocation. Here he learned the fatigue of life in the fields, deprivation, a sense of duty and the value of intelligent and tenacious work ... which bears fruit.
From one of his great fellow townsmen, San Giuseppe Cafasso, he let himself be guided on the roads where God led him, far beyond his human certainties. This Christian community has forged him into the true faith, which has spread throughout his life in a charity that has reached all continents, without borders.
This we contemplate today, at the beginning of this Bicentennial.
I entrust to you in the name of Don Bosco all those who will pass through this year, welcome them as always, with the warmth and affection that you always know how to convey, as to sons and daughters who from every where come back to the house of the common father.
We care about this, each and every one according to our vocations and our responsibilities, to continue with Don Bosco's heart towards the future, with hope truth ... especially towards the young generations like Don Bosco teaches us.