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By Hilario Seo

(Seoul, Korea) At the approaching summit of Don Bosco’s bicentennial celebration, various members of the Salesian family in the Metropolitan area of Seoul gathered at the Provincial House last April 18. They attributed the joyful life and happiness they had to St. John Bosco. They also considered the difficult times they have lived in and the afflictions this has caused to the young. They pledge to be with the young and for the young with all their hearts. This is what, in a nutshell, the Salesian Family Spirituality Day held in Korea this year is all about.


The event was attended by about 300 participants including the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDBs), Salesian sisters (FMA), Caritas of Jesus (SCG), Cooperators, Volunteers of Don Bosco (VDB), Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) and the newest member of the Salesian Family, Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA). They examined the spirituality of Don Bosco and its application to the modern times, spending the whole day, sharing the joy and camaraderie of a family.


What is the Salesian Spirituality?


The event took off with the prayers and presentation given by the FMA Sisters. Amidst the lotus lantern projecting Don Bosco's image, which provided a beautiful atmosphere, the simple program was followed by sharing.


Small sheets of paper were given to the participants where they wrote down in one sentence the answer to the statement, ‘Salesian spirituality is _______.’ Soon after, they exchanged notes with each other, sharing what they wrote, which helped inscribed the meaning of Salesian Spirituality in their lives.


Among the striking comments which were presented read, “Salesian Spirituality is like a fast food: because it is the most favorite of the young,” or “It’s an insurance for goods and services, because even if we grow old we could still live happily and youthfully,” or “Salesian Spirituality is the smell of the feet, for it spreads a fatal influence.” Another was “It is like the internet, for most of the young are gathered there,” and so on. These witty comments provoked response and elicited smile from the participants.


Recollection and Hope


The activity was followed by the lecture of Fr Bernard Lee Junseok about the Strenna of the Rector Major for 2015. Furthermore, in the midst of the violent culture which has made the present society become so numb, the Salesian family has embarked in their resolve to care for the indigent teens in the suburbs, accompanying them in this kind of culture. The Sewol Ferry Tragedy that claimed the lives of 304 people a year ago has still caused trauma to the society. The passing of time has not healed the pain, but is said to increase it all the more.


Since the young people all over the world witnessed on the screen the people who were negligent in leaving the victims, most of whom were teens, aboard the sinking ferry, served as an eye-opener for them to be more discerning in giving their trust to their leaders. In this situation, truly the role of the good shepherd who sacrificed his life for his lambs, emphasized merely Don Bosco, who worked for the young and lived with them: and the Rector Major’s Strenna as a way to put into practice. Remembering the pain and betrayal, let us rise again through deep reflection, without forgetting that hope would spring up tomorrow and suggesting to take the lead in the reparation of distrust and betrayal felt by the young to the elder generation.


The Agape of Happiness


After lunch offered by Salesian, each group of the Salesian family opened up performances which added to the sharing and joy of the Day. The Salesian Aspirants received great applause by showing competently their talent through a beautiful song. Subsequently, the cheerful dance from the Salesian Sisters warmed up the heart of the participants. The Volunteers of Don Bosco showed up with masks to keep their 'riserva' and surprised the audience with their dance while the Cooperators refreshed the audience with their re-interpretation of the meeting scene of Don Bosco with Bartolomeo Garelli.


The Salesian Family Spiritual Day had the Eucharistic Celebration as a grand finale. Fr Stephano Yang, the Provincial said in his homily, “Even though we are living in a generation of great pain and trials, we must be the bearer of hope of Don Bosco’s optimism.” He also said, “To convey God’s love to the poor young, a big Salesian family was made through Don Bosco who was born 200 years ago. With this vocation, we should stress the significance of a person rather than the wealth, honor, work or interest, emphasizing the need to revive the mission of Nazareth and Valdocco.” He therefore said, “In this year, through the words of the Rector Major’s Strenna 2015, let us deeply engrave in our hearts the meaning of the message, 'the poor will be the our savior.'” He concluded his homily in promising to hasten to go out to the periphery, for finding the young who are most in need.


Since it is the bicentennial year of the birth of Don Bosco, this year’s Salesian Family Spirituality Day was a time filled with more abundant grace and blessings. As the participation of Cooperators, SYM's young boys and girls, especially the newly started Association of Mary Help of Christian's members, the great number of the lay people in Salesian Family, the Spirituality Day remarkably showed an increasing appearance and evaluated to have brought the fruit of intense preparation for the DB200 in the last several years.


We hope the Salesian Spirituality in Korea blooms more to the full and becomes good news to the youth in difficulties.


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