A house of prayer as an 'icon' of the 'primacy of religion' in Don Bosco's preventive system and of an oratorian welcoming style. An ongoing formation centre for the SF
This house of prayer and spirituality represents, other than its limitations, a small sign, an icon of the renewed attention the Congregation is giving to the spiritual life of the community and to valuing the sources of the charism of St John Bosco (form the CasaTabor Pastoral Plan).
A FINGER POINTING TO HEAVEN
One needs to climb the slopes of Mt Etna to reach Don Bosco House; but the effort is worth the extraordinary view, where the very colours sing God's glory: the sky blue, volcanic black earth, white snow then the sea, the green grass and trees, the yellow broom bushes. Isn't the spiritual life similar? The effort to climb up,
Already in 1986 the Salesians in Sicily, meeting in the capital, had expressed the desire for a spirituality centre, a simple structure where the young could be welcomed easily. But God's time differs from ours. Just eight years ago, just before the turn of the Millennium, the project became real.
The Salesians had a close knit group of lay people with them who shared from the outset, the experience of welcoming people, and leading the team and its pastoral initiatives for young people from the SYM, the SDB and the Salesian Family around the area.
From the beginning the house has offered youngsters and young adults plenty of room for spirituality. Because of how it is, Casa Tabor is not only welcoming, but a good place for sharing, and it simply and clearly offers a way to understand prayer as Don Bosco lived it and communicated it. This is because true pastoral activity aims at shaping spiritual men and women, introducing the young to living in friendship with God, brotherly relationships with others, and a clam mature relationship with oneself.
To be spiritual men and women according to Don Bosco's charism, we need to rediscover the prayer dimension and silence within Salesian spirituality, as Fr Chavez emphasised when he pointed the Congregation to the task of a fruitful and essential return to Don Bosco.
Those for whom this work exists, then,are young people from our works, young families and various parts of the Salesian Family, confreres, Sisters looking for an oasis of prayer and recollection. Over this time we have organised courses of “personally guided” retreats for them. To encourage this atmosphere small groups are preferable, or even individuals looking for spiritual accompaniment.
SMALL GLEAMS OF LIGHT
At the moment the community comprises 4 Salesian priests, a young theology student who also serves as liturgical animator, and a prenovice; as well as welcoming and animating, the confreres are involved in teaching theology, parish ministry, and vocational animation in the province.
At the beginning of this year, the community council, made up of Salesians, laity, Cooperators and an FMA, set out a series of significant activities in formation; amongst others, in April we organised a meeting on the theme of quality of life for older confreres and Sisters, and a national convention on Don Giuseppe Cafasso. Don Bosco's spiritual director, in which SDB, FMA, VDB, Cooperators and Past Pupils took from Italy and overseas.
Retreats for young couples, meetings for engaged couples and communion catechesis, are carried out effectively involving the parents in the latter case, and these activities make up our family oriented ministry.
The teams who look after these are Salesians and laity. We work together cooperatively, discovering the joy of working together for the young. Some young people are helped with vocational discernment and accompaniment.
Don Bosco wanted everyone to feel at home». 'The Salesian House', the Constituions say, 'becomes a family when affection is shared, and when confreres and the young feel welcome and responsible for the common good (C 16).
Casa Tabor has its name because it wants to be a welcoming place. Nino, who last year as a catechist helped prepare his daughter for the meeting the Jesus in the Eucharist summed it up nicely:
"Casa Tabor is: an oasis of peace which feeds the spirit, reconciles the soul and fills one with hope, helping you realise it is possible to live in community and in communion with God, despite limitations and daily concerns; we discover that God loves us and does not abandon us; a place of sharing and communion with our Salesian brothers as friends, companions on the journey whom God gives us to breathe the daily air together, a Salesian family atmosphere which nurtures our dreams, lay, SDB and FMA united in Christ and in love for Don Bosco and the young whom he loved without limits, and whom we have chosen to love by his example and heritage”.
PRACTICAL TRUST IN PROVIDENCE
Casa Tabor has been supported generously by benefactors from the outset; no financial support is asked of anyone who comes. Those who wish can help with expenses or board and make an offering, but it is done freely and in secret. In the little collection box at Casa Tabor, you find the following:
“You can put something in this box if you want the community to keep on helping those who knock at its door.
Remember that the offering is not tied to your staying here; those here before you have provided. We just try and build a little chain of love...
Whatever you can give helps someone else, someone you don't know and who comes after you. Pray for that person too.
Accompany this community with your affection and prayer. May the Lord Jesus assist you and protect you and shine his face on you”.
Some witnesses of our lay helpers can help us enter into the spirit of this singular experience:
“CasaTabor” says Enzo, father of four “in recent years of my personal and family life has really been the Mount of Transfiguration for me. It is a chance for reflection, meditation, prayer, dialogue, encounter with God. It is God's caress in my life”.
“It is not the solution to every problem”, adds Roberto who comes from Milan occasionally, for seven years now “it would be simplistic to say that, but it is a peaceful stop for getting of life's busy bus."
“A place”, adds Gianfranco who with his wife and another couple help with the engaged couples activities “where thanks to the Salesians I, with my wife, family and friends have found Don Bosco and the possibility of meeting God and Jesus Christ in a more 'Salesian' way”.