15 days in the saddle, 50 participants, 1,300 kilometres or thereabouts by bikea, 3 Salesian places covered (Spalato, Scutari, Tirana), 5 states or regions crossed… These are some of the statistics given for the MGS (SYM) Salesian summer experience from Triveneto: The Cycling event.
This undertaking is… an initiative for all interested takers who want a Salesian experience in feast, faith…and sacrifice, sharinge, service. This was a real opportunity for life at its best.
Biking is about pedalling, but not only. The daily objective was more than geographical; it was also about building up the group, gaining new friends, putting the other before oneself, providing service (cooking, setting up tents, fixing up bikesi…) as well as the drudgery side of it all.
This cycling event… involves meeting so many different people along the way, and not only finding out about new places, but different cultures, as well as learning that every human being is my brother or sister.
The cycling event was… a chance to grow in faith and even vocation, learning to read everything in the light of God’s presence.
Event 2005, leaving from Trieste (Italy) through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, finally wound up in Tirana (Albania) covering 100 to 150 kilometres per day; it was so full of experiences, chances for personal growth and opportunity for a growing sense of vocation.
At Mostar, a city that knew war first-hand, the group made a retreat as a way of seeking to discover God’s footprints in life.
Medjugorje, the spiritual goal for this “bicycle camp”, enabled the experience to become a pilgrimage to Mary and therefore to God. There are many stories of the event: The Oasis of Peace asked of the youngsters that they put God at the centre of their existence especially through prayer; The Cenacle Community, Sr. Elvira, offered opportunity to think of the consequences of choices; The orphanage founded by Sister Jossipa with around 100 orphans enabled the young cyclists to see firsthand a life given to the poorest of young people; The night time pilgrimage, punctuated by the recital of the Rosary, and headed for the mount of apparition, was a chance to entrust the group to Mary. This cycling event, then, was not just about ‘killing’ kilometres daily, but was a journey within to discover the beauty of a Christian life lived to the full.
Meeting up with the Albanian situation, especially in the Salesian communities in Scutari and Tirana, was one of the most significant stopovers for the group. The young cyclists immediately noticed the poverty experienced in Albania from the state of the roads they traversed, except for the one which connects Scutari a Tirana. These roads really put the bikes to the test. The Albanian Salesian communities, with their commitment to education and evangelisation by means of school and oratory, left a mark on the 50 bike-riders especially for the ability they have to make Don Bosco a real presence in a difficult situation both in social and religious terms.
The cycling event makes its participants protagonists in life 24 hours a day: through service, effort, prayer, adapting to sometimes difficult situations (stayover, food etc) tmosferiche, riguardo il pernottamento, il cibo…). In short it was an adventure where life’s essentials were discovered as a value and where Providence was real every day.
It became a growth journey from a spiritual and Salesian point of view. This is why the San Marco Province makes it part of its vocational experiences, and those who take part are mainly youngsters who have already begun some sort of formation process to get to know Don Bosco and the Salesian charism better.
This youth concept, begun at Triveneto in the 70’s, has touched all of Europe by this stage: Paris, Berlin, Copenaghen, Lourdes, L’viv, Warsaw, Barcellona, Budapest, Sophia, Athens, Thessalonica, Bucharest… sare some of the places visited over these years. Despite the amount of organisation involved the adventure is repeated yearly and has become one of the outstanding formation events.
date - crossed - km - Confinements
07-dom Trieste - Selce 114 I - SLO - HR
08-lun Selce - Plitvicka J. Park 110 HR
9-mar Jezerce park - Knin 140 HR
10-mer Knin - Spalato 104 HR
11-giov Split - Mostar 150 HR - BiH
12-ven MOSTAR - MEDJIUGORIE 50 BiH
13-sab Medjiugorie --- BiH
14-dom Medjiugorie - Zaton 115 BiH - HR - BiH
15-lun Zaton -Dubrovnik - Kotor 100 HR - SCG
16-mar Kotor - Scutari 107 SCG - AL
17-mer Scutari - Tirana 101 AL
18-giov Tirana - Durazzo 39 AL
29-ven Durazzo - Trieste (nave) --- AL - I
20-sab Trieste - Udine 70 I
21 - dom Udine - Pordenone 50 I