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Young people dream about the Salesians: Andre Launio

By Andre Launio

Rome, 27 March 2020 -- Interview with FIN young observer, Anre Launio

What is your dream for formation of the consecrated Salesians – Brothers and Priests?

I hope and pray that the SDB formation will give more emphasis with regards to addressing crucial concerns and relevant issues that the youth is significantly affected by (LGBTQ+, divorce, mental health, etc.). The thought that the youth of today has different problems compared to the youth of yesterday, should be greatly emphasized. Salesians need to adapt to modern times. I hope and pray that the formation for Salesians will strengthen future candidates to be firm with the teachings of the Church while at the same time, practice in their community life, the culture of inclusivity.

What is your dream about shared mission among SDB – Mission partners and the Young people?

Salesians have significantly guided young people academically and spiritually. They genuinely personify God's love for the young. However, Salesians have overlooked the innate desire of young people to be of service to God and the capacity of young people to be a part of their mission. Like what the youth that are present in the General Chapter 28, has said, "We are complementary to the mission, not a separate part of the mission". I dream of a time where the Salesians engage the youth in essential and important decision making.

I dream of a day where Salesians and Lay mission partners work hand in hand in bringing more people closer to God, especially to the places where our faith hasn't flourished yet. I hope and pray that the culture of "Desk Salesians" is permanently eradicated. Together with the Lay mission partners, Salesians should be present with the Young and journey with them fight alongside Lay mission partners) and not command them (=Lay mission partners) to do a specific task.

What is your dream about forthe personal and community witness of the Salesians SDB?

The Salesians have significantly personified God's love for us young people and I am proud to say that a big part of who I am is because of their great work of. However, there is a trend of Salesians being confined in their administrative role. I hope and pray that each and every Salesian remain true to their mission that they are for the young. The physical presence and the genuine concern of the Salesians is crucial to the spiritual and personal development of young people and this cannot be done when a Salesian is isolated in his office or his desk.

What did you feel in the holy places of Don Bosco?

Growing up, I've only dreamt of being in the places where Don Bosco had grown and lived. It is a dream that I've considered to be a farfetched dream. A dream that would require me to be a professional or be financially stable first before achieving it. I've never actually thought that I would be able to fulfill that dream this soon. I am forever grateful to God for this wonderful opportunity and for making me realize things that I've only learned by being in the holy places of Don Bosco.

When we went to Colle Don Bosco and Chieri, the places where Don Bosco was born and where he grew up, I saw how humble and meek the life of Don Bosco was. Aside from technology being not available at that time, he really had it rough since he had to work all day just for him to be able to study. Going into these places taught me how to value the things that I have now and the education that I am receiving. It humbled me and made me want to do my best in everything that I do.

One remarkable thing that was consistent in the life of Don Bosco was his unconditional and unwavering faith in God and devotion to our Blessed Mother. Don Bosco's life was filled with uncertainties and trials. Amidst these circumstances, Don Bosco was able to triumph over every road block that he was presented with. Don Bosco wouldn't be able to achieve this if it weren't for his trust and faith in God. This is a principle that I would like to practice daily in my life. I am often easily swayed and knocked down with how cruel the world is, but by reflecting and studying the life of Don Bosco, it made me more resilient and it was greatly emphasized in me that there is nothing to be afraid of for we have a Heavenly Father in God and a Heavenly Mother in Mama Mary.

Your experience talking to the GC28 delegates?

The experience that I've had being with my fellow youth from different parts of the world, made me realize how big the impact of Don Bosco's work had reached. Regardless of what country, traditions, and customs we came from, the Fatherly love and charism of Don Bosco was radiantly alive. Initially, there was a getting to know phase. But after sometime, we've genuinely felt that we were brothers and sisters because of the familiarity we had with Don Bosco and his impact in our lives. The connection was swiftly established for we never felt that we are different from each other because we are part of Don Bosco's family.

Interacting with them widened my horizon with regards to the realities and hardships that each and every setting is facing. There is this reality that while one setting is enjoying religious freedom, another is struggling to practice daily their faith and express themselves due to various reasons (Government, Christianity being a minority in their country, etc.). After exchanging stories with them, it inspired me to be grateful for the things that we are currently experiencing and enjoying, and it enabled me to not turn a blind eye with my brothers and sisters who are currently facing hardships and trials.

Expectation from the process after the General Chapter?

The General Chapter was indeed wonderful and promising. The ideas and insights of each and every delegate truly reflected the situation or current status of the Salesians today. It paved the way for Salesians to address the alarming issues that the youth is facing today, and it helped the Salesians to be relevant in the youth's complex but still humane digital world.

The only concern that I have is the implementation of the things that were discussed to each province. I hope and pray that with every discovery and every insight that were learned, may it be successfully implemented in all provinces, and in all communities/parishes/schools/institutions that the provinces are attending to. It is but necessary for each Salesian to reflect and discern the path to take with regards to the fruits that the 28th General Chapter has produced. It must be emphasized that it is by journeying with the young that we will be able to fulfill what God and what Don Bosco would want us to do to better serve the young.

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