|RMG – World Congress of Past Pupils of Don Bosco|
(ANS – Rome) – Their association has recently celebrated the first centenary of their foundation. The number of those who, after attending some educative Salesian work, are entitled to be called “past pupils of Don Bosco” is incalculable. Very many of them are illustrious people, but far more are those who in their simple daily lives exemplify the motto of Don Bosco: “good Christian and honest citizen”.
The first article of the Confederal Statutes of the Association reads: “Past Pupils are those who, having attended an oratory, school or any other Salesian work, have received a preparation for life according to the principles of Don Bosco’s preventive system”
The “historic memory” of the association goes back to June 24th, 1870, Don Bosco’s name day celebration, when a group of past pupils, out of filial gratitude, brought him a gift of some coffee cups. Don Bosco wanted this tradition to continue, devoting an entire day to it and offering an invitation to dinner in appreciation of the gifts. The first “fraternal feast” took place on July 19 1874, so beginning the custom of an annual gathering of past pupils , which has continued in Salesian houses right down the present day.
In 1884 this group of past pupils – more than 300 of them – set up their first organizational structure. They committed themselves to preserving the education they had received, to continue the work for needy youngsters and to cultivate friendship and solidarity amongst the members. The first statutes were drawn up in Turin on December 8th, 1911, on the occasion of the first international congress, with the encouragement of Blessed Philip Rinaldi, who later became Don Bosco’s third successor.
May 23rd 1920 saw the inauguration of the monument to Don Bosco, erected in front of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin at the wish of the past pupils. On this occasion they defined the basic structure of the organization, which is still in place: Local Union, Provincial Federation, International Federation (known as World Confederation since 1954). In that meeting it was decided to accept into the association also past pupiIs of non-Christian religions, eliminating distinctions and separations and taking the fraternal link and sense of unity to be an advantage for the association.
The period of the Council brought the Association to look to new and more concrete forma of collaboration with the Salesians. The Confederation forms part of the O.M.A.A.E.E.C, a body which involves past pupils from various Congregations and which is recognized by the Church among international Catholic Organizations (O.I.C.).
The World Confederation groups together the past pupil of all continents without ethnic or religious distinction; it promotes the ongoing formation of its members and supports the education of youth, especially of the poor, in accordance with the educational method of Don Bosco. The past pupils are called upon to promote, defend and to put into practice the values inculcated during their Salesian education.
In recent years, the Association is seeing to the training of its future leaders, by means of specific courses set up in different continents. Meanwhile, to share new projects and to exchange local initiatives between the members, International Congresses have been arranged (Eurobosco, Asia-Australia, Congrelat, Afrobosco), which take place every four years, and the World Assembly, which takes place every six years.