LET US WELCOME THE GRACE,
THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US WITH THE BEATIFICATION
OF THE SALESIAN BROTHER ARTEMIDE ZATTI
We, the members of the GC25 offer thanks to the Father who has willed to illumine this General Chapter with the gift of the beatification of three members of the Salesian Family: Sister Maria Romero Meneses, Brother Artemide Zatti, and Father Luigi Variara.
With particular insistence, Fr J. E. Vecchi drew our attention to Artemide Zatti, so that we might make him the sign of a new commitment on the part of the whole Congregation, to recognizing the relevance today of the vocation of the Salesian Brother and to promoting its development in the spirit of Don Bosco. In him as in the Salesian Brothers already beatified as martyrs is found in an outstanding manner the high level of the ordinary salesian vocation which takes us to the roots of our consecration itself.
Many signs of hope invite us to propose a new commitment with great conviction. The young people who are entering our novitiates to become Salesian Brothers show that they appreciate this vocation. Everywhere throughout the salesian world there are examples of Salesian Brothers who are living their vocation joyfully and attractively, demonstrating its fullness in the complex world of communications, in work training, in social action, in education in the faith, in missionary daring, in formation for the salesian life.
John Paul II on the occasion of Brother Artemide Zattis beatification underlined his unceasing and joyful activity, his genial manner and his special skill, together with his total availability (Audience of Monday 15th April).
In fact, there is to be found in the Brother confreres, in an outstanding manner, the witness of a salesian vocation, which brings together, through educative and supportive charity, the gifts of consecration and of the lay state. It reminds religious communities of the values of creation and of secular realities; families and lay people of the values of total dedication to God for the sake of the Kingdom (GC24, 154). In this way the Salesian Brother becomes the protagonist of that new civilization of love and of life that men of our day are yearning for.
Their special links with the world of work makes them protagonists of an educational venture in which civil society and the church community, secular values and Christian proclamation meet, so that everywhere, through work, man takes on the image willed by God.
Our reflection on the salesian community today has strengthened in us the conviction that from a salesian point of view, it is more positively effective when it is made up of Salesian Brothers and Salesian Priests. There could be no effort towards community renewal that did not also become a renewed determination to ensure that every community be able to live the fullness of its own identity with the presence of those who, with different but complementary gifts, reveal the features of Don Bosco.
Salesian Priests and Salesian Brothers look to Don Bosco together, so as to re-present him to the world. Together they live his spirit, and continue his mission of service to the young and to Gods people. Together and in constant dialogue with each other, each one becomes a more genuine Salesian, since he is more firmly rooted in his own vocational identity. Together they are raised to the honours of the altars.
With the presence of the Salesian Brother the salesian community is complete and becomes fully effective. We have all experienced how well the Brother confrere knows how to be a community man, as ready for great responsibilities as for the small services of every day, full of a sense of the house, capable of forging straightforward and brotherly relationships. Religious Brothers are an effective reminder to religious priests themselves of the fundamental dimension of brotherhood in Christ. (VC 60)
The GC25 invites us to love our communities, following the example of Artemide Zatti, who, once again according to the words of John Paul II demonstrated a service that was impassioned, skilful and full of love, he was as punctual in carrying out his community duties as he was completely dedicated to the service of those in need (Homily at the Beatification Mass). Of him, a genuine community builder, it was said that not only was he a medical assistant but he knew how to become medicine through the contact with the gospel that he offered to those who approached him.
The things we have mentioned encourage us and urge us to put into practice in each province a new, extraordinary and specific campaign for the vocation of the Salesian Brother, especially in youth ministry and within the Salesian Family.
It is greatly to be desired that more visibility be given to it in the world of education and human development, in meetings and youth gatherings, in initiatives that aim to make the salesian vocation better known, in teams and councils where, at different levels, the life and mission of the Sons of Don Bosco are planned and animated.
The liturgical celebration of Blessed Artemide Zatti, which we shall begin to keep on 15 March, and the annual world day of Consecrated Life are invitations that should become, for every educative community occasions for testimony and prayer, so that this vocation may continue to flourish for the benefit of young people and for the fullness of the spirit of Don Bosco.
While we write this message for you, with hearts full of enthusiasm after the experience of the grace granted in these days, we ask for the support of your prayers, so that the renewed commitment of the Congregation to the vocation of the Salesian Brother may bear fruit.
The members of the GC25
Rome, 15 April 2002.
2. MESSAGE OF THE GC25 TO THE SALESIAN FAMILY
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the end of our 25th General Chapter we want to send to each group and to every member of the Salesian Family a special greeting and expression of our gratitude.
We are grateful for the messages and contributions you have sent us, for the prayers you have said for us, for following with interest the unfolding of the Chapter, and for your joy and good wishes sent to the new Rector Major who is for all of us the successor of Don Bosco.
The event of the beatification we recently celebrated together represents a significant moment of recognition on the part of the Church. The newly beatified, a Sister, a Brother and a Priest, who had in common the same vocation and were moved by the same apostolic zeal, are a powerful recall to holiness of life for the whole Salesian Family.
During our reflections in the Chapter we have kept in mind your contributions and what you expect from the salesian community: we hope that in the final document of the Chapter you will be able to find some responses to your wishes. The most pressing requests that you have made to us in your messages concern our being capable spiritual guides, and our availability to welcome you as brothers and sisters, so as to offer to young people a valid education and a witness to the Gospel in todays society. This will certainly help us to share the spiritual treasures of Don Boscos charism.
In the chapter document we have expressed in various ways our intention to work in close concert and to grow together. The complex nature of the world in which we are living requires us to share, always more deeply and with co-responsibility, the spirituality that Don Bosco has entrusted to us and the mission to the ordinary people and to the young to which we are called.
Aware of our particular responsibility within the Salesian Family in which Don Bosco is the Father and guide, we want to work together for an increase of vocations in the various Groups, bearing witness to the authenticity of the spirit and the communion of hearts.
The theme of vocations is a concern for all the Groups of the Salesian Family. We, on our part, wanted to pay particular attention to the vocation of the Salesian Brother, an original feature and one that is essential to our charism.
Following our mission, many of us are involved in the education and evangelization of the young and of ordinary people. In schools, oratories, social works, centres for youngsters with problems, parishes, and other places, we are working together and forming ourselves in order to better carry out our service to them. We are putting our efforts and our hopes in shared formation. Through the practice of the preventive system we are enabled to become, in society and in the Church, a significant presence in the field of education. In recent years we have put great trust in lay people as genuine collaborators and protagonists, and are now witnessing the expansion of a lay salesian movement throughout the world.
Our Chapter, reflecting on the salesian community today, has confirmed our absolute commitment to grow in brotherhood and living witness. We intend living and working together as brothers according to the same charism, to be both the aim and the result of living in communities, where fraternal love becomes strong and visible. This mutual strengthening will be of benefit to the whole Salesian Family, who will know how to help each other to become enriched so as to give life to a genuine communion of brothers and sisters according to Don Boscos heart.
Evangelical witness also firmly unites us. Its ultimate aim is to bring the Gospel of Christ to the young and to ordinary people. We do not feel that we are alone in this enterprise. Sharing the charism and the complex nature of evangelization obliges us today to plan and to work together. It is in this that the great wealth of the Salesian Family is to be found, so that as we live our different experiences we can perceive present-day reality from different standpoints and with specific charismatic emphases to be placed in common for the benefit of all. Don Boscos preventive system is the common heritage behind our plans for education and evangelization. In this way we can reach those for whom we work with complementary activities and the same educative objectives united in the same spirit.
In this way we build up a living Family that acts together in harmony to reach a common aim. Allowing ourselves to be guided by what we have expressed in the Common Identity Card and the Common Mission Statement we all become involved in the one mission of Don Bosco with our individual forms of expression, but linked together in one vast salesian movement.
In this way our giving of ourselves will also be the fruit of what we receive from each other, conscious that there is more joy in giving than in receiving (Acts 20, 35).
Together we joyfully share the protection of the Help of Christians, the Mother of our Groups and communities. Devotion to her is spreading ever more widely throughout the world, thanks to the members of the Family. We invoke her with confidence that she may bless each one of us, each Group and all our collaborators and their families. Into her hands we entrust the future of the spiritual Family that we have so much at heart.
As members of the Chapter, we invoke for everyone the Lords blessing through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians, Don Bosco, the new Beati and all the salesian saints.
The Rector Major and the members of the GC25
Rome, 18 April 2002
3. MESSAGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE
Gathered together in Rome,
coming from all the continents,
we the Salesians of Don Bosco,
write to you Young People,
because it is for you that we live.
Convinced of the Lords word:
Love one another as I have loved you,
we have examined how we can improve our life in community.
We believe that the renewal of our living and working together
is a great gift for you as it is for all of us;
and we hope that you may be able to interpret it as a sign of hope
in your efforts to overcome divisions
to search for justice without giving way to hatred
to offer help and forgiveness to everyone.
Following Don Bosco Father and Teacher of Youth
we want to be for you and with you
in situations of poverty,
in the tragedies of war
in the conflicts which divide
and wherever life is threatened
and development stifled.
We are with you in the search for Love
that gives full meaning to life and leads to happiness.
we want to be
heralds of the dawn
messengers of peace,
builders of a new human family
drawing strength for the Lords Passover.
And if at times we have disappointed your expectations
today we want to renew our pledge:
the doors of our hearts and of our houses
are always open for you.
The Salesians of the 25th General Chapter,
Rome, 20 April 2002
4. AN APPEAL TO SAVE THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
LET US SAVE THE YOUNGSTERS, THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD.
Youngsters need to be taken seriously,
otherwise they will be against us or nowhere to be found.
We cannot take advantage of their good will;
if they ask for bread let us give them bread,
but if they ask for instruction, for training,
we must not pretend not to hear.
(Fr Vecchi, 8th Successor of Don Bosco)
We the Salesians of Don Bosco are living and working in 128 countries, in direct contact with thousands and thousands of young people, boys and girls. As representatives of all the Salesians, we are gathered in a worldwide assembly and we cannot remain silent but feel bound to emphatically declare our commitment to fight with might and main on their behalf as something that cannot be delayed.
We address our words to those with responsibilities regarding the young:
- to those who are responsible politically and economically in every country, and at international level;
- to humanitarian Institutions, to NGOs, to Associations of Volunteers;
- to the Churches and to Religious Institutes;
- to families;
- to those who control and who work in the mass media;
- to educational agencies.
In every part of the world we are aware not only of the humiliating situations of poverty in which millions of youngsters are living, without a family, home or future, but even more of the exploitation of minors, made slaves by a world of adults too often unfeeling and irresponsible, which constructs barriers that exclude them. There are many millions of poor children. Poverty can be overcome, but even the poor have the right to have their dignity respected. Instead we see a world which bears down on them and humiliates them obstructing every opening to a better future. We are convinced that at the root of such poverty are to be found not natural causes but downright injustice, the result of a view that sees everything only in economic terms.
The list of the wounds that afflict the world of youth is long and well known: child labour, children who live night and day on the streets, child prostitution, pedophilia, violence and the exploitation of young people, truancy, the spread of AIDS, illiteracy, unemployment, drugs and alcohol abuse, forced emigration, child soldiers, corruption, child gangs: all of which phenomena are on the increase and cut off any possibility of a future for many countries, many of which are burdened by foreign debt.
Destroying the children and young people means blocking the future for a nation and for the whole world.
We Salesians have inherited from Don Bosco the commitment to give our lives for the development and the education of the young. It is essential to invest great resources to this end.
On more than one occasion Don Bosco (1815-1888) in asking for money from wealthy people to educate his poor boys used strong words: either we open our wallets willingly today to help these young people or one day they will come to take your money with a knife at your throat and a gun in their hands.
We are also strengthened by the words of Fr Juan E. Vecchi, the 8th successor of Don Bosco, who recently launched a jaccuse against political and economic institutions that were either heedless or directly guilty with regard to young people.
We are on the side of the young because like Don Bosco we have confidence in them, in their willingness to learn, to study, to escape from poverty, to take their future into their own hands, but we see that they are often unable to do so because too many adults are guilty of ignoring them; when it comes to investing in them not only do these adults just not want to know but instead they even exploit them.
We are on the side of the young because we believe in the worth of the individual, in the possibility of a different kind of world, and above all in the great value of working for education.
We are very happily surprised that the money men themselves (The International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank) have stated that the only solution is to be found in Education.
We are convinced that it is essential that such organizations devote a great deal of their resources, money and concern to the EDUCATION OF THE YOUNG: to their protection, their safety, to preventive measures, to their direct involvement. Educating young people is the only way to prepare a better future for the whole world.
That everyone work together in the commitment to education on a global footing is the task for all men and women who have responsibly at heart the future of their own children and that of all the young people of the world.
We want to respond to economic globalization with a globalization of an educational character that will give heart and hope to all young people in the world.
The Rector Major
and 231 representatives of the Salesians in the world
Rome, 20 April 2002.