Rector Major from 1965 to 1977
Fr Riccieri was a Sicilian. From the moment of his election he expressed, in a concise statement, what would later become his fundamental program of government: "Go ahead with Don Bosco alive today to meet the demands of our time and the expectations of the Church." This intention was consistently pursued until the end of his mandate, on the eve of which Fr Ricceri still reaffirmed: "The recipients of our mission are the young, who at this time have become of primary importance and have became an explosive and irrepressible force....
"Don Bosco, whom young people need, is Don Bosco in moments of emergency, the Don Bosco who rolls up his sleeves ..." It should be born in mind that his time as Rector Mahjor, during years of profound social and cultural unrest, was accompanied and tested from the outset, by the lively youthful anxieties of the late 1960s. In addition to young people, these also involved the various associated institutions: schools and associations, educators and legislators, state and ecclesiastical institutions ... In acknowledging the "irrepressible force" of the young, and appealing to Don Bosco and the firm principles of his message, Fr Ricceri held the rudder handed to him by his predecessors, while urging the entire Congregation to respond to the urgent demands of the times and to the lively expectations of the Church.
This "dynamic fidelity" to the spirit of the Founder recurs as an emerging theme in Fr Ricceri's words and writings, but above all in concrete initiatives resulting from his frequent trips abroad, which were always brief and to the point, and in meetings with those responsible for both religious structures and other specific sectors. Among other things - noting that the time was ripe for a "hypothesis" the previous Rector Major was already thinking about - Fr Ricceri shifted the headquarters of the Salesian Society to Rome, splitting it from the "Mother House" at Valdocco and making it more a part of the geographical, organisational and spiritual heart of the Church.