Interview with Mr Michal Hort, Don Bosco Past Pupil
President of the World Confederation (2015-2021
For me to be a Don Bosco Past Pupil means everything
Don Bosco Past Pupils -‘A sleeping giant’ celebrates 150 years
May 28, 2021
Can you share briefly about your life journey with Don Bosco, your job and family?
My name is Michal Hort, I’m 43 years old and married. With my wife Martina we have 3 kids Therese, Philip and Matthew, they are 10, 8 ad 4 years old. I’m an entrepreneur, with a consultancy company in the sector of EU funds. My company has currently 10 employees and we help our clients to get grants for their development and investment projects.
I grew up in the family of 5 children (being the oldest), where both my parents are past pupils of Don Bosco. My father always taught me to help the Salesians. I studied at the Salesian high school in Sastin (Slovakia) and then at the Bologna University (Italy). So I’ve been raised and educated by both my parents and Salesian since my childhood. And for that I’m very grateful. In 2015 I got elected the president of the World confederation of Don Bosco Past Pupils.
What does it mean for you now to be a Don Bosco Past Pupil?
For me to be a Past Pupil of Don Bosco means everything. Education received is for me my way of life and my life plan. Now when I’m growing older the words “good Cristian and upright Citizen” for me are the summary of what I want to be.
I want to point out that helping others thanks to the education received by the Salesians and talents and skills given by God is what defines my everyday actions. Or at least I try my best. And this is for me the definition of Past Pupil of Don Bosco;
As World Association President can you share some good local Association practices?
Before answering this question, I would like to underline one important fact. Past Pupils are the movement all around the world: we estimate more than 100 countries, more than 30 million people). There are some 14.000+ Salesians (SDB) all over the world. There are more than 3.500 schools and almost 4.000 Salesian works in all 5 continents. Past pupils of Don Bosco are all those lay people, who passed through the ‘hands of the Salesians’ not only in the Schools, but also in the Youth Centers, Oratories, Parishes or Social works.
The movement is celebrating 150 years right this year. It’s a “sleeping giant” that has a potential to do a lot of good. We just need a lot of prayers with good tools and projects to help him up. There are good examples of best practices on our Strategic plan 2015-2021 and on our web page. There are many available on our web page (www.exallievi.org). I would point out the educational courses for the high school students about the future employment; or Business club of Past pupil Entrepreneurs; or Family Weekends for the families of Past Pupils of Don Bosco and so on. You better see the web page and our strategic plan.
We are preparing to launch the Association. Which focus would you recommend us?
Every country is different, but I would suggest to you three following steps:
· Appoint a responsible Salesian (=Delegate) and one lay person (Leader) to start with. Then this responsible person will create a small team (preparatory team) for the Past Pupils Association. World Confederation can help a lot – sending you a simple 10 steps brochure how to proceed when establishing a new Federation. You may request our Secretary General: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Start to gather Past Pupils by making list of addresses (also virtually since we live in the era of social media, SNS) – use this to gather past pupils and let them know they are past pupils of Don Bosco.
· Define a plan what to do, based on the 6-year Strategic Plan of the World Confederation;
What can Past Pupils Association can do for its members?
Many things, but basically inspire them and help them grow as Past Pupils of Don Bosc: help them continue to live following Don Bosco by gathering them, create a community with the same values, priorities and goals. Give them friends and group of people that can work and act together sharing plans, problems and dreams; we live in the era of “crowd solving” and “crowd sharing”. For that you need a “crowd” – a community. Past Pupils movement is the right place to be.
What do you expect from the members, who are willing to join and what not?
I would expect simply ‘to be a past pupil of Don Bosco’. That means: use your professional skills and talents to help each other, help the Salesians and society they live in. To be active citizens and Christians. For example: Are you a teacher? Can you help in the oratory or create a education group for the children of the Past Pupils? Or: are you a musician? Can you create a choir or music band that sings in the Church during the Mass and Salesian events? Or even: are you and accountant or lawyer? Can you help Salesians in your oratory with book keeping or legal issues? And so on. In this way also other benefits can be reached. In this way, our Salesians themselves will have more time to stay with the young people, dedicate more time for the souls, because us past pupils will have them with the “secular” issues;
Your message to those who are willing to join the Association of Don Bosco Past Pupils?
No matter what, being with Don Bosco is the right thing. Our way to reach heaven is not a riddle we can’t solve. It has been solved 150 years ago by Don Bosco giving us the scheme for a fruitful and happy life. In Eastern Europe we have lived many decades of oppression by Communism that did not allowed us to live fully our faith and love of Don Bosco. Nowadays there are different threats to face and fight. Especially ignorance and disinterest. Within the Past pupils of Don Bosco Movement it´s easier to fight and live our lives to the fullest.
·How could you resume in one sentence the identity of the Salesian Ex Pupil?
Be a good Christian and Upright Citizen: it’s short, but complete. Think about it!
This interview was requested by the Hungarian Don Bosco Past Pupils, who are about to launch their National Federation. We give thanks to the World Confederation Secretary for making available this interview in English.