From the very beginning, since the first Sons of Don Bosco, we have been walking together with young people from all over the world. We are currently present in 132 countries and thousands of Salesians share the joys and hopes of millions of young people every day.
Our worldwide presence makes us increasingly aware that our young people are experiencing a particularly complex moment: it is increasingly difficult for today's youth to find their place in society. They experience a profound crisis of identity, feel threatened, alone and betrayed in their expectations of and for the future.
The uncertainty and crisis challenge us and question us because our own existence is linked to theirs in a way similar to that of a father with his children; we cannot be indifferent to what happens to their lives. As Don Bosco has so well said, "For you, I study. For you, I work. For you, I am willing to give my life."
We feel challenged by their needs and we ask ourselves how to serve young people better, how to walk beside them without trailing behind, falling back, lagging behind their youthful pace. For this reason, we fully share the words Pope Francis has entrusted to the Church in addressing the reality of youth so we, too, can always believe that YOUNG PEOPLE are the "new lymph", and that their dreams are the engines of history.
In our experience as educators and pastors, listening to young people occupies an important place and acquires singular features. Salesian listening is based, and has its starting point, in Love (fondness), a Love that "listens without prejudices, without preconceptions, that is uncompromising, gives space to spontaneous dialogue," from heart to heart.
Listening in this Salesian key also has a second aspect that is essentially linked to the first, and is reflected within the inner life of each Salesian: it is the time to reflect on the presence of God, which starting from their desires, the expectations and the uncertainties of our young people question us and call out us. In young people, we see a divine spark. "Young people are our burning bush." God speaks to us through them.
The philosopher Humberto Maturana says, "It is love that educates you, unconditional love that makes you feel unique, alive. A love which knows how to step back to give space to the protagonism of the other."
We want to be always as St. Paul writes "collaborators of your joy" (2 Cor 1:24).