Don Bosco

Message of the Rector Major for the opening of the Bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco


Bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco    


Ángel Fernández Artime, sdb
Rettor Maggiore

199 years ago, a day like today, a child was born, Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, in these very hills, son of humble peasants.
Today we, wanting to start the Bicentenary of this historic event, give thanks to God for his admirable intervention in History, and even more concretely in this story, begun in the hills of Becchi.

In the first article of the Constitutions of the Salesian Congregation, it is stated that "With a sense of humble gratitude, we believe that the Society of Saint Francis of Sales was born not by a human project alone, but by the initiative of God ... The Holy Spirit raised up the maternal intervention of Mary, Don Bosco. He formed in him a heart of father and teacher, capable of a total donation (...), and the Church recognized in this the action of God, above all approving the Constitutions and proclaiming Saint the Founder ".

The Salesian charism is a gift that God, through Don Bosco, has made to the Church and to the world. He has been formed over time, ever since he was sitting on Mamma Margherita's knees, then with the friendship of good life masters and, in particular, in everyday life among young people.

Today we are here as the Family of Don Bosco, the Salesian Family, accompanied by many civil and ecclesiastical authorities, friends of Don Bosco, and young people. On the same hills that saw him born, we proclaim the beginning of the celebrations of this Bicentenary of the birth of our "father and teacher", which will have, as a point of arrival, after three years of preparation and one of celebrations, the next 16 August of 2015, when we will celebrate the two hundred years of his presence in the Church and in the whole world, for the good of the young.

The Bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco is a jubilee year, a "year of Grace", which we want to live as a Salesian Family with a sense of gratitude to the Lord, with a sense of humility but also of great joy, aware that it was the Lord to bless us with this beautiful spiritual apostolic movement founded by Don Bosco and under the guidance of Mary Help of Christians, which we call today "Salesian Family".

It is a jubilee year for more than thirty groups that are already part of this great family of ours, and for many others who, inspired by Don Bosco, his charism, his mission and spirituality, hope soon to become part of it.

It is a jubilee year for the whole Salesian Movement which, in various ways, refers to Don Bosco with its own initiatives, actions, proposals, and in its journey shares spirituality and efforts for the good of young people, especially for those most unlucky.

This Bicentennial wants to be for all of us, and especially for the Salesian world, not just a moment of celebration without transcendental references, but a precious occasion that is offered to us to look to the past with gratitude, to the present with hope, and to dream the future of the evangelizing and educational mission of our Salesian Family with Gospel strength and novelty, with courage and a prophetic gaze, letting ourselves be guided by the Spirit who will always be close to us in the search for God.

We believe that this Bicentennial will truly be an opportunity for true spiritual and pastoral renewal for our Family, an opportunity to make the charism more alive and make Don Bosco more current, as it has always been for young people. We believe that it will be an opportunity to live the mission that has been entrusted to us with renewed conviction and strength, always for the good of children, adolescents and young people around the world, especially those who need it most. , the poorest and most fragile.

The Bicentenary will also be a time in which, as a Salesian Family, we will continue, following the example of Don Bosco, our journey towards the physical and human peripheries of society and young people.

As it already was with Don Bosco, the year of the Bicentennial that we celebrate, and the next path that we must follow, it must be for all of us, the Salesian Family, a time in which to bring with great humility what is part of our charismatic essence: the our commitment to read the social realities, especially the youth ones, that today involve us; our commitment, with clear intentions, for the marginalized young people or those who are at risk of being so; our faith and full confidence in them, in every boy and girl, in their possibilities and abilities; our certainty of the goodness of their hearts, whatever their past, letting them know the opportunity they have to be owners and protagonists of their dreams, staying close to them if they allow it, to be able to develop their talents to the maximum,

Finally, this Bicentennial must also be the memory of so many women and men who participated with great passion in this project, begun by God in Don Bosco, in a heroic way, even giving life for this ideal, in typical difficult and extreme conditions of some countries of the world, and for this reason they are a triumph, a remarkable treasure that only God knows how much it really is worth.

With these convictions, we feel more animated not only to admire Don Bosco, not only to perceive the actuality of this great figure, but also to feel with great force the undeniable commitment to IMITATE the one who, from these hills, reached the outskirts of Valdocco, and also on the rural outskirts of Mornese, to expand with oneself and with other people that desire to seek the good of the young and why each of those boys and girls could be happy now and for Eternity.

From this hill of the Becchi we therefore declare open the year of the Celebration of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco .
May Don Bosco, from Heaven, bless us and give us the grace to make our commitment to youth concrete and make our dream a reality.