LETTER OF RECTOR MAJOR - Fr. EGIDIO VIGANO'
PEKING TOWARDS 88
Rome, 24 August 1987
Feast of St Bartholomew
Introduction. - The Feast of the Assumption at Peking. - Don Bosco's missionary
dreams. - The two salesian protomartyrs. - Brief contacts with the reality
of Chinese culture. - The presence of -church- at the present day. - In
communion of hope with the universal Church. - The outlook for our Hong
Kong Province. - The importance of suffering for apostolic action. - Conclusion.
My dear confreres,
I have just returned from mainland
China: Peking, Canton, Shiuchow, with a brief visit at the end to Macau and
Hong Kong. I am very grateful to those who prepared the details of the journey
with such dedication and intelligence.
The Asian continent has always
led me to meditate deeply on the mystery of the Church and its charismata.
And nowhere was this more the case than in China: a people with a population
of more than one thousand million! Two thousand years after Pentecost the
vast majority of these people are still unaware of the grace and redeeming
news of the Risen Christ. Recently they have lived through acultural revolution
which has placed them on a kind of new launching pad, even though there is
an evident need to find a good and abundant fuel able to bring about the actual
take-off into the future. There is growing up at the present day, and it springs
from the insuppressible hope in the human heart, a kind of intuition that
there are better times ahead.
The story of the Chinese missions
is a long one. It began with the first contacts made by a group of Nestorian
monks in the seventh century. These were followed by various approaches in
the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, and by subsequent initiatives of the
Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans, the Paris Foreign Missionary Society, the
Augustinians, Divine Word Fathers, the Scheut religious, Trappists, Marists,
various native Congregations, and finally by several religious institutes
in the twentieth century, including our Salesian Family. It is a long and
tormented story, and is linked unfortunately (even though in general only
incidentally) with sad colonializing initiatives by some European powers.
How much sacrifice there has
been, and how many martyrs!
On the other hand the widespread
existence of non-christian religions, rooted in the local culture of ancestor
worship and permeated with alienating aspects linked with mythology and superstition,
has destroyed the authenticity of the religious sense of the objective realism
of thehistory of salvation, centered on man.
The cultural revolution made
every effort to root out everything that was religious (the opium of the
people) and foreign (colonialism), and has left in its wake an immense
and certainly fertile field to be cleansed, ploughed and sown.
The first period of our salesian
presence in mainland China - from 1906 to the early 50s saw the birth of
Don Bosco's charisma among the poor and little ones in conjunction with the
aspirations and needs of Chinese youth, giving rise to precious vocations
With a capacity for heroic witness and perseverance. Some confreres from that
period are still in the mainland, providing in a wonderful way shining signs
of fidelity and fruitful seeds of rebirth.
It seems that the Chinese people are now on the threshold of a new era
of progress; one feels that the pulse of the nation is throbbing with
a rhythm previously unknown. Could it be that the great hour of the countrys
resurgence is about to strike?
Numerous seeds have already
been buried in China's soil; 
Church too has rethought in depth the nature of her mission and the manner
of carrying it out, after recognizing the many shortcomings of recent centuries.
Vatican II has introduced big changes into missiology and in the kind of ecclesial
activity of the various charismata; on account of this, missionaries of today
and tomorrow (ourselves among them) will be able to respond in more adequate
fashion to the appeal which is already beginning to be heard from the great
and promising yearning of Chinese hearts.
Our holy Founder Don Bosco saw
in a dream the development of the salesian presence, even though he added
(but 100 years have already gone by since then)but the time is in the hands
of God. 
The journey which I have just
made as Rector Major was meant as a pilgrimage. Four days in Peking, another
four in Canton and Shiuchow, and finally nearly two days in Macau and Hong
Kong. The main objectives were:
- to celebrate the Solemnity
of the Assumption in Peking Cathedral;
- to consider once again the
two missionary dreams of Don Bosco in the light of the heroic fidelity of
the Chinese confreres;
- to venerate and express our
gratitude to our protomartyrs;
- to get to know some more significant expressions of the Chinese
culture of yesterday and of
the colossal tasks facing
the present new order;
- to make contact if possible
with representatives of the local Churches;
- to share the fervent desire of the universal Church for a growth
of faith among the Chinese
- to see at first hand the merit of the salesian province of Hong
Kong and to share the hopes of
- to meditate on the power of the passion and the cross.
It was a very meaningful
journey, made in peace and freedom and one that opened up undreamt of perspectives.
It will be useful, I think,
to offer you some reflections on each of these points. They will help us to
live the Marian Year with more practical realism and to reawaken our resolutions
of fidelity for88.The feast of the Assumption
From Rome I flew directly to
In this capital during the Marian
Year, I wanted to celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed
Virgin Mary into heaven: the event which marks the beginning of her maternal
work as Help of Christians through the centuries.
I had made my preparations at
Fatima, during the Team Visit to the provinces of Spain and Portugal; during
that week I had prayed every day to Our Lady. I wanted to represent the Salesian
Family of the whole world in making a special Act of Entrustment of all the
young people of China to Mary Help of Christians in Peking Cathedral which
is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.
And so I went to the cathedral
(or southern church). I was accompanied by the Regional Councilor (Fr Thomas
Panakezham) and by my brother (Fr Angelo), and kneeling in the second bench
on the left and in the presence of these two competent witnesses I recited
the formula of Entrustment, which I include as an appendix to this letter.
We then took part together as members of the faithful in the Mass celebrated
Looking around the cathedral
we saw fixed to one of the columns near the entrance the 1987 calendar for
the so-calledPatriotic Associationwhich manages the churches open to the
public: at the center it had a beautiful colored picture of Mary Help of Christians,
exactly like that of Valdocco. It seemed to us a significant indication.
We knew already that on 19 January
1949 Mary Help of Christians had been proclaimed the special Patroness of
Peking. But we had confirmation of something else: in the first Synod of the
Chinese Bishops (14 May - 12 June 1924) the entire people of China were entrusted
to Mary invoked asAuxilium Christianorum, Mater gratiae, Celestis Sinarum
At Shanghai, on the famous hill
of Zo-S, there is a splendid basilica dedicated precisely to MaryAuxilium
Christianorum; the statue, identical with that of Turin, rises in motherly
fashion above the high altar. Already in the previous century 
a hexagonal chapel had been built
on this hill in her honor:Our Lady of Zo-S; the faithful used to flock
there to seek her help and to thank her for it afterwards.
Don Bosco himself makes mention
of it in a little booklet entitledNine days consecrated to the august Mother
of the Savior under the title of Mary Help of Christians.
Giving an example of the motherly efficacy of Our Lady he
wrote:The name of Mary Help of Christians gloriously resounds already even
in far distant countries. It seems indeed that God wishes to draw to himself
the whole world through the wonders worked in favor of unbelievers through
the intercession of his divine Mother. And he quotes two facts which took
place on the hill of Zo-S. 
My pilgrimage to Peking was
intended to have this Marian aspect in the forefront, as a strongly significant
element. The outcome of our missionary activity will always be linked with
a sincere and trusting devotion to the Mother of God and of the Church. .
Don Boscos missionary dreams
Before leaving Rome I had read
once again with careful attention Don Boscos five great missionary dreams:
about Patagonia, 
South America, 
a large number of missionary
Asia, Australia and Oceania, 
and the trans-continental line. I stretching from Valparaiso to Peking. 
Don Bosco spoke explicitly of
China in narrating the fourth and fifth dream. He saw his sons present there
in big numbers and carrying out an efficacious work of evangelization. He
was convinced that Our Lady wanted his followers for the young people of that
country too.If I had twenty missionaries to send to China, he said after
narrating the fourth dream,they would certainly receive a triumphal welcome
there, despite the persecution. 
And Don Lemoyne, to whom Don Bosco spoke about his dream of salesian works
stretching from Chile to Peking, quotes him as saying quietly but in a
penetrating manner:When the Salesians get to China, they will find themselves
on both banks of the Peking river. One group will come to, the left bank
through the heart of the country, The other group will come to the right
bank from the coastlands, And when they meet and shake hands with each
other, what a glorious day that will be for our Congregation! But the
time is in the hands of God!. 
I went to that river and stood
on the famous bridge which crosses it. (Marco Polo described it inMilione).
And later on when I told the confreres of the province that I was a Rector
Major who had come from Valparaiso and Santiago and had reached Peking, I
saw on their faces both emotion and great hope.
For the moment there remain
in mainland China only a handful of confreres who have borne witness with
a heroic fidelity lasting more than thirty years to the love of the Chinese
for Don Bosco's charisma and their unfailing conviction of having experienced
through their profession the attraction and efficacy of the Lord's Gospel
for the youth of their immense country; they now see appearing on the horizon
new possibilities with great promise.
In the course of my travels I have been able to verify to some extent
in the different continents the prophetic truth of the missionary dreams
of our Father, and I have felt in my heart (and I have seen that the confreres
there feel the same thing) that this truth extends also to the future,
thus giving weight to the famous expression of Don Bosco:If only I could
embalm and keep alive some fifty Salesians of the kind we have at the
moment, in five hundred years time they would see what an amazing destiny
Providence has reserved for us, if we remain faithful. ... There may arise
some hothead bent on destroying us, but they will be isolated cases without
support from others. Everything depends on the Salesians not allowing
themselves to give way to the attractions of ease and comfort and so avoid
hard work. 
I prayed in Peking that throughout
the Congregation (and this is where the special spiritual contribution for
88 comes in) the identity of the Founders charism may grow and be intensified
in the confreres: the mystique or contemplative dimension ofda mihi animas,
and the daily ascetical practice ofwork and temperance.
The two salesian protomartyrs
When I arrived in Hong Kong
from the Chinese mainland I found awaiting me a letter that had been written
on 21 August by an old and well deserving confrere who had worked for many
years in that province.Dearly beloved Father, he wrote,welcome to the
land of Don Boscos dreams. The soil of China, already bedewed by the blood
confreres, is preparing great consolations and triumphs for
the sons of Don Bosco... but many sacrifices are still needed, as Blessed
Mgr Versiglia used always to say.
One of the objectives of my
visit to mainland China had been precisely that of visiting the places where
Mgr Versiglia and Fr Caravario had carried out their apostolic work and where
they had been martyred. This is why I had invited my brother Angelo, Provincial
of the Central Province based at Turin, to accompany me. Seven years ago he
had been miraculously cured of an inoperable cancer after insistent prayers
of the confrere of the Milan province (of which he was then Provincial) to
our two martyrs.
We have been to the places where
they worked and gave their testimony; we prayed in gratitude for the past
and asked that the seed of these martyrs might be fertile for the future,
and we were able to concelebrate a sung Eucharist with Gregorian chant in
a form which though rather isolated was very moving and meaningful, in the
little church of Saint Teresa in Shiuchow. We were accompanied by the subdued
voices from outside of someSisters Announcers of the Lord (the local Sisters
founded by Mgr Versiglia); they were not allowed to come inside.
We recalled the words of John Paul II in his homily at the Mass of Beatification
of the two martyrs in St Peter's Square in Rome: 
In every age and in every place martyrdom is an offering
of love for the brethren and especially for the people for whose benefit
the martyr offers himself. The blood of the two Beati is therefore at
the foundation of the Chinese Church, as the blood of Peter is at the
foundation of the Church of Rome. We must therefore understand the witness
of their love and their service as a sign of the profound harmony between
the Gospel and the highest values of the culture and spirituality of China.
In this witness, the sacrifice offered to God and the gift of self made
to the people and to the Church of China cannot be separated. 
I have been able to note in
the brief history of this province, more than in any other, the abundant presence
of martyrdom and suffering which is the expression and incontrovertible witness
of salesian love for the youth and people of China.
And I thought to myself during
my short stay at Shiuchow: the sons of Don Bosco have always had an intense
love for the boys and girls, the young men and women, and the simple people
of the fields and towns of the great and numerous Chinese people. They love
them now and will always do so in the future. In the light of these two martyrs,
the Salesian will never be a stranger in China because he is a disciple of
Christ who has chosen as the beloved country of his vocation also the culture,
the history, the projects, hopes and difficulties of this dear peace-loving
people which yearns for truth.
I learned of various Chinese
confreres, priests and brothers, who have been able not only to accept but
to live in hope apassion which has gone on for more than thirty years;
to some of them I have been able to speak. They accept the will of the Father
in their regard as a grace. More than one of them has already given his life;
others continue their witness in a form which is humbly sublime.
In a letter of one of them,
written on the 8th of the present month, I read with amazement:I have been
here, far away and alone, for 33 years now! Nothing has changed. But every
day without fail I have recourse to Mary Help of Christians, to Jesus in the
Blessed Sacrament through a spiritual communion, and I pray for the Pope (to
sustain him with fidelity), thinking always that the Superiors and my brothers
in the great family of St John Bosco cannot forget me in the midst of my tribulations;
and so I do not feel either sad or alone, in fact I feel fortunate because
I am sure they will never forget this poor creature; and this gives me strength...
Certainly there is much that I could say, but I can sum it all up in a single
thought: I send you my affection and gratitude for everything, everything.
I have heard from you that next year there will be great celebrations for
the centenary of the death of Don Bosco. Every day in my evening prayer I
recite the prayer:0 Father and Teacher of youth, St John Bosco... He has
been my great benefactor ever since I was a young boy, and I can never forget
him... Mary Help of Christians, help us to come safely through this raging
sea. My heartfelt greetings for the Feast of the Assumption!.
My dear confreres, it will not
be easy to surpass this dear Chinese Brother in our preparation for the celebrations
Brief contacts with the reality of Chinese culture
In Peking especially I was able to see some of the wonderful manifestations
of Chinese culture of the past and also certain imposing initiatives of
the present day. One is impressed by the originality, magnificence, grandeur,
skill and careful attention to knowledge which, together with rich traditional
values in a familiar context of social courtesy linked with constant application
to work, make one think of the truth of what John Paul II said in a meeting
to mark the 4th centenary of Fr Matthew Ricci:The particular connotations
which mark civilization and culture are among the most well known and
celebrated in the world, autonomous in their originality of thought, of
linguistic and literary expression, of tradition and usage, to such an
extent that they constitute one of the richest centers of the elaboration
of intellectual and human values of universal history.
To give you an idea of what
I am referring to, the more important places we visited were: the Temple of
Heaven, the Gate of Peace, the Forbidden City (or Imperial Palace), the Astronomical
Museum, the Summer Palace (of the Empress), the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall,
the vast Square and Mausoleum of Mao Tse Tung, the immense Hall of the People,
the tombs of Fr Matthew Ricci and other missionary astronomers and scientists
(as for instance the German P. A. Schall and the Belgian P. Ferdinand Verbiest,
who was given a state funeral because of his contributions to knowledge, and
the Austrian P. Augusto von HaIlerstein) , and also some of the more famous
Pagodas rich in history.
Going about on foot in the main
streets of Peking (which has some ten million inhabitants) and visiting some
of the supermarkets, one can become convinced in a practical fashion by the
daily crowds of people that the Chinese are the most numerous nation on earth;
alone in fact they make up more than a fifth of all humanity.
One is therefore naturally led
to think of the particular seriousness of the problems of social cohabitation,
of the difficulties experienced in structures at local and state level, of
the serious ethical problems and the urgent need to meet all such demands
with a proper view of the individual, the family and society.
Those who bring the Gospel,
prompted by the power and light of the Holy Spirit, will have to bear well
in mind the particular values of a people so great not only in numbers but
also for their glorious if often cruel history of independence and liberation.
The presence ofchurch
As I said at the beginning of
this letter, in China one immediately feels that christians are alittle
flock immersed in an ocean of brethren who have not yet heard the Good News
of the resurrection.
The events of recent decades
have resulted in the departure of numerous missionaries, and the flock has
been decimated and dispersed: in 1948 there were more than 5,700 priests and
nearly 8,000 religious brothers and sisters. Today they are very few: in the
whole of Peking there are only 16 priests, all of them members of the Patriotic
Since 1978 the Constitution
has asserted that there is personal freedomof belief, and ensures that the
State will protect lawful religious activity, provided that it be not under
control from abroad. The policy of theUnited Front (which depends on the
Party) aims at uniting all the countrys efforts in a common endeavor for
the relaunching of the nation. While believers of various denominations are
guaranteed religious freedom, they are educated and actively involved for
the service of the countrys common good.
There is a State Department
for Religious Affairs, part of whose task is to reorganize and give direction
to groups of believers, to rectify errors of the recent past, to reopen places
of worship, and to work for peace, all within the ambit of the Partys religious
The christian faith is certainly
still alive with heroic expressions and a silent fertility.
There exists an officialCatholic
Patriotic Association which governs all public places of worship where sacramental
rites are celebrated. These are carried out in Latin and in accordance with
a pre-conciliar liturgy, as we were able to see for ourselves when participating
at Mass and seeing a baptism administered.
We were able to visit five churches
open to the public: three in Peking (the cathedral, the northern church and
the eastern church); one at Canton (the cathedral) and one at Shiuchow (that
of St Teresa of the Child Jesus).
A little conversation in Latin
with some of the priests in charge made us feel our brotherhood in the centrality
of Christ's mystery, the importance of Mary for salvation history, and the
urgent need to be able to communicate the Gospel to the people in a better
In communion of hope with
the universe I Church
Christ and Mary love the people
of China, who are called to be the People of God in communion with all the
redeemed. The Spirit of the Lord has prompted the universal Church to proclaim
in China the Good News of the New Covenant, and is doing so still. Ministers
and consecrated members of the universal Church pray, hope and offer themselves
for so historic a mission, in the certainty of being able to bring to the
country and to all humannity a great good.
Paul VI, in a reference to the courageous faithful of China, said with
deep feeling that among them the fact that they were Catholics did not
detract in any way from their love for their native land: because membership
of the Church in no way weakened but rather strengthened and confirmed
their relationship as citizens with their country, and made them guarantors
and sharers in its security, its peace and its true progress. 
Some time ago when I was speaking
with Cardinal Sin at Manila (Philippines) and Cardinal Kim at Seoul (Korea),
I felt the great interest and ecclesial affection of these two archbishops
for the christian faith in neighboring China, and their concern to hasten
the time and prepare more messengers.
Conversing too with various
religious Superiors and Superiors General I have noted a kind ofChinese
predilection in the future orientation of their charismata.
Peter's Successor looks at China with an intense love as he thinks of
the responsibility inherent in his ministry, according to Christ's words:
Go and make disciples of all nations; I am with you always, to the close
of the age. 
John Paul II thinks of our Chinese brothers and sisters who have suffered
for the faith. He wrote a letter in Latin to the Bishops of the world
asking them to pray for China.
In it he said:The courageous witness (of our Chinese brothers
and sisters) can well be compared to that of the christians in the early
ages of the Church. How consoling it is to receive news of the constant
and unswerving loyalty of Chinese Catholics to the faith of their forefathers
and of their filial attachment to the See of Peter... We entreat the Lord
to keep ever more alive and joyful in them the hope that one day there
will be a joyful rebirth of their Church and a new Pentecost of the Spirit
which will make the message of Jesus flourish once again in that beloved
In an address to those attending a study congress at the Gregorian University
in Rome 
4th centenary of Fr Matthew Ricci, he said:The (universal) Church, aware
of the spiritual gifts of every people, cannot fail to see the Chinese
people (more numerous than any others in the world) as a great unified
reality, a melting pot of lofty traditions and vital leaven, and hence
at the same time as a great and promising source of hope. 
And on the occasion of a documentary being prepared by a television group
destined for use in China,
John Paul II declared:The Catholic Church looks on China as
a great family, the cradle of noble traditions and vital energies, rooted
in the antiquity of its history and culture. The Church looks approvingly
on the modernization and progress to which the Chinese people are committed.
This was the attitude of the famous Fr Matthew Ricci when he first made
contact with China. I am sure that those Chinese who are disciples of
Jesus Christ, as was Matthew Ricci, will contribute to the common good
of their people by practicing the virtues taught by the Gospel, and which
have been held in high esteem for centuries in Chinese tradition, such
as justice, charity, moderation, wisdom and a sense of fidelity and loyalty.
And so our Salesian Family feels
itself in complete harmony with these ecclesial yearnings, and my journey
was intended to contribute to and intensify the awareness that oursense
of Church implies historically at the present day an opening to prayer,
to initiatives and to hope for the Chinese people.
Don Bosco wrote in his own hand in his spiritual testament:In due time
our missions will reach China, and specifically Peking. But let us never
forget that we go there for poor and abandoned children. There, among
aliens who do not know the true God, will be worked wonders never before
believed and his marvels will be displayed for the whole world to see. 
In a conversation with Fr Arthur Conelli at San Benigno in October 1886,
our Father spoke of the good his sons would do in China and referred to
the capital Peking, to a river which flowed close by it and to a bridge. 
On 8 January 1888, shortly before his death; he spoke of the future missions
in China to the Duke of Norfolk who was kneeling at his bedside. 
Later Blessed Mgr Versiglia, pioneer of the salesian presence in China, 
wrote to Don Albera on 12
October 1918:Our venerable Father Don Bosco, when he dreamt of China,
saw two chalices filled with the perspiration and blood of his sons...
God grant that I may be able to give back to my Superiors and to our Pious
Society the chalice that has been offered to me, and may it be filled
at least with my perspiration if not with my blood.
We have then, both as a Congregation
and as the Salesian Family, an ecclesial commitment based on vast Chinese
horizons to which we must turn our eyes and for which we must both pray and
The outlook for our Hong
At Hong Kong and Macau at the
end of the journey I was able to talk with the confreres (some of whom had
come from Taiwan), and with the Salesian Family of this Chinese Province.
I saw in their eyes gratitude, joy and willing responsibility. The years 1997
and 1999 when the two cities (at present linked with Great Britain and Portugal)
pass to the control of mainland China, may appear as a providential perspective
for our commitment.
Our very significant meeting
concluded with a fervent eucharistic con-celebration on the octave day of
the Assumption, dedicated liturgically to the commemoration of the Blessed
Virgin Mary as Queen. The Immaculate Virgin, said the Council,was taken
up body and soul into heavenly glory when her earthly life was over, and exalted
by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed
to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. 
This regal quality of Mary makes
of her the great Helper of all peoples and Mother of the Church throughout
We meditated together on the
portentous contents of theMagnificat and on the silent but inexorable power
of the Holy Spirit, while we marveled at the fact that both the Hong Kong
Province and the whole Chinese people and its youth in particular, together
with its capital Peking are all specifically entrusted to Mary Help of Christians.
In a climate of hope, the conviction
became intensified in our hearts of the strategic importance of this Province,
of its history of blood and sweat, and of the extraordinary relevance of its
mission at the present day in response to salesian desires throughout the
One of those present at the
concelebration prayed that that the Chinese people might gradually become
protagonists in the forthcoming third millennium of christianity.
May Mgr Versiglia and Fr Caravario
guide and encourage from heaven the confreres and groups of the Salesian Family
of this Province, and intercede efficaciously for them and for all the Chinese
The Importance of suffering
for apostolic action
I am writing this letter on
the day in which we commemorate the martyrdom of one of the Twelve, St Bartholomew,
who with other members of the Apostolic College is said to have proclaimed
the Gospel in Asia.
A mysterious silence has covered
the witness and mission of the various Apostles, but it is clear nevertheless
that as pillars of the Church they have had an influence on the good of the
numerous people of that vast continent, and that this influence will continue
in the future.
As I read in the breviary todays second reading, taken from the homilies
of St John Chrysostom on the first Letter to the Corinthians, I was struck
by the following reflection: the cross exerts an attractive force on all
the world.What tax-gatherers and fishermen had strength to achieve by
the grace of God, was something that neither kings nor orators nor philosophers,
not (in a word) the whole world searching in all directions, could even
imagine. Reflecting on this Paul said:The weakness of God is stronger
than all men. 
It is clear from this too that the Gospel
is divine. For whence did it strike twelve unlettered men to attempt such
great enterprises, men who were living in marshes, or rivers, in desert
places, who had never perhaps gone into a city or the public square?. 
Martyrdom never fails to exert its attraction; it prompts us to think
more frequently and at greater depth of the supreme and indispensable
presence of suffering in an christian witness, and in particular in the
pastoral style of the salesian charism. I invite you, dear confreres,
to read again the circular letter onMartyrdom and suffering in the apostolic
spirit of Don Bosco which I wrote to you on 24 February 1983.
And so we must not lose courage
nor consider ourselves incompetent: we are with God, and for Him we are working.
We shall not be afraid to add to Project Africa, when the hour decreed by
Providence strikes, another and still more demanding frontier, Project China.
For the present we have a Province with various groups of the Salesian Family
which feels itself committed in this regard: already it is evangelizing, preparing
and keeping a watching brief. We feel ourselves united to the confreres of
this Province with deep admiration and fraternal solidarity, and while praying
for them we also prepare ourselves to give them our collaboration.Conclusion
Dear confreres, this significant
journey of mine was meant to be also a contribution to the intensification
of oursalesian spirit for the celebrations of 88.
When on 14 May next year all
our confreres solemnly renew their religious profession, it is my earnest
hope that there may be in the heart of each one the same climate of hope and
the same apostolic perspective that was in the hearts of Don Bosco and the
twenty-two young men who made their profession on 14 May 1862: the social
situation was unfavorable, nationalistic enthusiasm was emptying the seminaries,
the State was banishing religious, the Pope was considered a hostile temporal
sovereign, current opinion on religious orders was generally negative, and
yet those twenty-two young men dreamt with Don Bosco of a great future and
committed themselves evangelically to stay with him always.
My dear sons, said our Father
to them on that memorable day,we are living in troubled times. It may almost
seem foolhardy to try to set up a new religious community in this unhappy
hour when the world and hell itself are doing their utmost to destroy existing
orders. But never mind. I have sound reasons not merely probable ones
for believing that it is God's will that our Society be born and grow... Who
knows but that the Lord may wish to use this Society to achieve much good
in his Church!... Let us take courage and work with all our hearts. God is
a generous master and will amply reward us. Eternity is long enough for us
In a deeplymystical atmosphere,
Saturday 14 May 1988 will become the most significant day in the centenary
celebrations of our holy Founder: it will find us radically committed by an
oath of fidelity to his spirit and of active witness of apostolic consecration.
And the difficulties? Well,
for those we have the From Peking too there comes to us a pressing invitation
to renew for88 the pastoral charity ofda mihi animas.
To all of you, dear confreres,
I send my cordial greetings.
Affectionately in the Lord!
Don Egidio Viganò
ENTRUSTMENT of the YOUNG PEOPLE OF CHINAto MARY HELP OF CHRISTIANS
O Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of the Church and Helper
of all peoples, special Patroness of Peking,
we Salesians of Don Bosco,
in pilgrimage to this capital
city of CHINA,
on the Solemnity of your ASSUMPTION
into heaven, entrust to YOU
the hopes and struggles of this
immense people who yearn for the truth and so much love peace.
We bring to your maternal attention
the young people who abound
in the various districts of
this their hard-working country, while we remember with joy the promise made
to Don Bosco that his charisma would here find growth
for the good of the people and
especially the young.
Intercede for those who bring
and entreat the Holy Spirit
that by his power
he may open the horizons of
hearts to their message.
We ask you, who have believed
and extolled the great things
God has done,
to ensure that the response
of faith of Chinese youth may give light to the world
like the sun which rises in the East!
PEKING, 15 AUGUST 1987
Jn 12, 24; 1 Cor 15, 37 
MB 18, 71-74 
GIOVANNI BOSCO: Opere edite,
ristampa anastatica, LAS Roma
1977, vol. XXII, p. (253); (333-334) 
1872; BM 10, 46-48 
1883; MB 16, 385-398 
January 1885; MB 17, 299-305 
July 1885; MB 17, 643-647 
1886; MB 18, 72-74 
MB 17, 647 
MB 18, 74 
MB 17, 645 
15 May, Sunday after Ascension 
Osservatore Romano (
Eng. edtn.) 23 May 1983 
Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II,
Libreria Editrice Vaticana
1982, V. 3 1982, p. 927-928. 
Address to College of Prop. Fide, 20 Oct. 1963; Insegnamenti di
Tip. Pol. Vat. I 1983, p. 253-254 
Mt 28, 19-20 
6 January 1982 
25 October 1982 
op. cit. V. 3, p. 927-928 
24 July 1985 
o.c. Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1985, VIII. 2 1985, p. 168 
, Sal Archives 182, book 6; MB 17, 273 
GUIDO BOSIO: Martiri in Cina,
LDC Turin 1977, p.7 
MB 18, 513 
Lettere a di Paolo Albera
, Sal Archives 9, 3 Versiglia 
LG 59 
1 Cor 1, 25 
Hom 4, 3.4; PG 61, 34-36 
ASC 308, p. 3-23 
BM 7, 103