Don Bosco Past Pupils, Presov - Slovakia, 21 August 2020 -- How can we start up a local Past Pupils of Don Bosco Centre for our Oratory? Can we even consider those who have received a DB education in the Oratory or Youth Centre to be 'past pupils'? And what about Past Pupils from a school environment? - One Slovakian local centre (Union) of Past Pupils of Don Bosco offers an answer to all of these questions
The formation of the Prešov Past Pupils of Don Bosco Centre (Union) began 5 years ago (in 2015). At the meeting of the Educative Pastoral Community (Oratory-Youth Centre) by chance I got hold of the "Don Bosco Express Magazine", an official publication by the Slovakian Federation of Slovakia. And from this accidental encounter came my question: "And who are the 'Exallievi" - who are the Past pupils of Don Bosco?
The Salesians in Prešov briefly explained who Past Pupils were. Coincidentally (or by God's direction), after a few days, the Salesians contacted the Slovak headquarters of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco, who in turn contacted me. In February 2016 followed by a meeting with Mr Peter Kovac (Secretary of the World Confederation President), and after a year, several other meetings including the Secretariat of our Association with representatives of the other Centres presenting the mission of the Past Pupils, social projects, business platform.
At the same time, discussions took place between the committed Past Pupils belonging to the Prešov Salesian Centre, who evaluated the positive and negative points of the creation of a new Past Pupils Centre in Prešov. After these conversations, however, enthusiasm arose for the creation of local Past Pupils Union in Prešov, and we found our place among other components of the Salesian Family operating in Prešov (in addition to the Salesians Cooperators - ASC, and the Mary Help of Christians Association - ADMA).
When was our Past Pupils of Don Bosco Centre officially started?
After this decision, we communicated with the then Salesian Rector in Prešov, Fr Martin Kačmáry, about the possibilities of support from the SDBs. We took over our mission and looked for opportunities to engage - so that we could share in the Past Pupils goals together with other components of the Salesian Family in Prešov.
Personally, through posters and e-mails, we addressed all those of our acquaintances who had undergone a Salesian formation or had their hearts set on fire for Don Bosco, but were not caught up directly in the Salesian Family (there are several hundred young people or adults who have left this centre in recent years).
On 8 December 2018, symbolically on the anniversary of Don Bosco's First Oratory and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrated the Mass attended by the President of the Slovak DB Past Pupils, Mr Robert Mruk., Mr Michael Nemček and Mr Petr Kovac founded the new centre and together they prayed the official Prayer - Promise of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco.
So far, 69 members have joined the Association here in Prešov (some of them live outside the Czech Republic, even in America). Our mission is not to create anything new, but TO BE THE RIGHT HAND OF THE SALESIANS and to help with what we can. Many of our members are involved in leadership of small Christian communities, groups, as sports coaches, or perform duties at the local church as vergers or accompany liturgical music and singing, wash and iron albs and altar boys' vestments , cook in tent camps, participate in brigades, be generally involved in their parishes, sew masks for other Past Pupils around the world ... according to the individual possibilities of individual members. We have already been commissioned twice to prepare an agape for Don Bosco's feast day (January 31) for approximately 2,000 people, and we have also participated several times in the social project Let's Give a Smile. But our main task is to build our community through personal spiritual growth as invited to do several times by the Salesians.
Our identity is anchored in the fact that we love Don Bosco and out of gratitude to the Salesians (SDB) we want to pass on what we have received. Our great blessing is that we have great support from the Salesians. We try to respond to their needs and they can feel support in us. "