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Europe Salesians and Lay Mission Partners with the Young

By Our Own Correspondent

Turin, 1 December 2018 -- The seventh European SDB Provincials meeting (Valdocco, Nov 30 - Dec 2, 2018) continued with a deep touch of discernment and focus on young people in Europe. The holy places of Don Bosco helps all 70 participants to ponder the present and future of our charism in Europe more deeply.

With daily Eucharist in the Church of St Francis de Sales, at which the Rector Major is the regular main celebrant, and enjoying the renewed Valdocco house, General Council members, Provincials from Europe and lay participants spent a full day in discernment mood. Most of the lay people are involved in a variety of formation projects at province level, some are Salesian Cooperators or members of Provincial Youth Ministry teams.

The ongoing renewal of the Valdocco infrastructures, also in view of the forthcoming 28th General Chapter, are also very helpful - with a new set of meeting rooms, refurbished rooms for hospitality, starting with a new reception area at the entrance. An entire uplift of the Pinardi house as the 'Don Bosco Discovery' centre will follow soon.

What kind of Salesians for Youth in Europe? A lengthy discernment process on the joint formation of SDB and Lay mission partners in Europe arrives at its first concrete results due to the not always esy convergence of a number of basic needs:

  • In spite of resistance from some European Provinces regarding joint formation of SDBs and laity, it is not an option for the future of our charism. The Salesians need to humbly recognise the need to be formed by the laity as our mission partners, as a charismatic and prophetic choice:
  • The gradual, long-term process of the formation of formators (SDB and Lay) in the Quito (Ecuador) Ongoing Formation Centre involving two regions of America ( was acknowledged as a point of reference, with its four levels and the resulting multiplication of human resources for the Provinces.
  • The main goal of joint SDB-lay formation is the transmission of the Salesian charism to future generations in Europe.
  • Following the initial working group of 15 SDB and lay mission partners, there is a need for a 'Pan-European formation team' that might produce the first pilot projects for the benefit of all 30 provinces.

During the last session on Saturday the two Synod 2018 participants, Fr Andrea Bozzolo and Fr Rosanno Sala, gave a lively introduction to the Final document of the Synod with many interesting background and motivational stories. Indeed the focus on the young is at the heart of the Universal Church and the journey is ongoing.

After the first Sunday of Advent Vespers in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, at which the Rector Major presided, and which was attended by all SDB and FMA communities in Valdocco, a 'last supper' with a family gathering followed. Each language group in Europe shared their songs and the Provincial of France-South Belgium, Fr Daniel,once more performed some magic and his walking-mate 'Bagateul'.

During the last work period on Sunday, the meeting's focus has been the reshaping of SDB initial formation in Europe, and sharing some important tools for SDB institutional visibility in Europe, such as DBI (Don Bosco International).

The next appointment for Europe provincials is scheduled to take place during the 28th General Chapter with its theme 'What kind of Salesians for the Young people of Today?' also to be held at Valdocco, from 16 February to 6 April, 2020. We pray for many good results along this GC 28 journey, always keeping the needs of young people in our hearts.

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