(ANS - Beirut) - 100 years after the proclamation of the Greater Lebanon (1920) in its geographical and historical boundaries, the country, once considered the Switzerland of the Middle East, is going through one of the most delicate and difficult moments of its centennial history: a crisis, above all economic, but also social and political, which has pushed the local population to rise up and rebel against its leaders, to the point of asking that the whole political class go away. Something unheard of in a fragmented society, where political leaders, in some cases former lords of the interminable civil war (1975-1990), were mostly praised and followed almost blindly.
(ANS - Damascus) - For years the bullets and the blast of bombs have been the background of the Jaramana neighborhood, in Damascus. The war that Syria has been going through since 2011 has destroyed this part of the city and its traces are visible. Most of the children and young people who participate in the activities of the Salesian Youth Center in the country's capital come from this area, with 1.5 million people. Now that the war seems to have calmed down - even if these days, very close to Jaramana, large explosions have been heard - the Salesians are continuing the construction of the Youth Center, a church and a vocational training center.
Jerusalem, Israel - August 2019 - Salesians from all over the Spanish-speaking world walked in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in the Holy Land, lived a "formation experience", deepened the Word of God in every place they visited, and met Him in prayer. It is an experience that every Salesian must have at least once in his life, in order to "configure us more deeply to Christ and renew our fidelity to Don Bosco, in order to respond to the ever new demands of the youthful and popular condition" (CS, 118)."
(ANS - Benediktbeuern) - At first glance, it might seem like a normal Salesian youth camp, one of the many organized by Salesian youth centers and oratories throughout Europe; but just pay a little attention and you realize that all the posters are in Arabic! The reason is very simple: it is the first camp for young people of the Middle East in Salesian environments, mostly Syrians, who live as refugees in various European countries.
(ANS - Seville) – This summer seven young Syrians and one Spaniard are participating in an exchange of Salesian animators: this is a new proposal of the "Suriya Project" which aims to bring together children and young people from the youth centers of both countries.
I want to carve into my memory and yours the inestimable value of every human encounter, however brief or lengthy, deep or quick it might be. If it is a human encounter, it is always special and we have to make it special. We will have a much better life if we live it this way.
Thailand – Who is the Pope for the Thai Youth?
(ANS – Bangkok) – On 20-23 November 2019, His Holiness Pope Francis will visit Thailand, a country where 94.6% are Buddhists [the total population of the country is 69 million]. Following this are the Muslims with 4%. The Catholics are only 0.5% [380,000] of the population. Let us now listen to the views of the Thai youth on "Who is the Pope for the Thai Youth?" and "How do you feel that the Pope visits Thailand?"
Italy – "Valdocco today": from oratory seminar, a reminder for Provinces
(ANS - Palermo) - The seminar on the Salesian youth center oratory in Italy, entitled "Valdocco today: which oratory for the Third Millennium?", took place in Palermo from 12 to 14 November. Organized by the Salesian national office for parishes and oratories, the seminar left a handout to all participants: seven key words that must then be translated into concrete measures in the individual Salesian Provinces. These are the terms: relationship, co-responsibility, discernment, home, mission, accompaniment and synodality.
Peru – Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Lima: temple of the centenary, temple of the patriots
(ANS - Lima) - The Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, located in the Breña district, is one of the great jewels of the art of Lima. It marked a before and after in the Peruvian capital's religious architecture. Its facade features a large central tower - almost 60 meters high, the tallest structure in Lima until 1956 – which broke with the previous tradition of the era of the viceroys, with a retable facade and two large towers on the sides; its design decidedly influenced other temples in the city.
MESSAGES OF THE RECTOR MAJOR
A MISSIONARY DREAM THAT LIVES ON
The dream to which I refer, my dear friends of the Salesian charism, is the great missionary dream of Don Bosco. Even in the very first years of the foundation of the fragile, little Society of St. Francis de Sales (the Salesians), he sent out his first missionaries to Argentina (in the year 1875) with the intention of caring for the Italian immigrants who had reached those shores by the thousands.