As 150 years ago, Don Bosco continues to insist on all those who consider themselves "Past Pupils": "One thing more than any other I recommend you, my dear children, and this is: wherever you are, always show yourself good Christians and honest men. Many of you already have families. Well, share that education you received in the Oratory from Don Bosco with your loved ones." (M.B., 14, 511).
Carlo Gastini was the engine of the traditional Past Pupil's Feast Day, every June 24th. Don Bosco had said to him: "You, Gastini, will be the jester of the Salesians up to seventy years", and he reminded him continually. His love and loyalty to the Salesian work lasted until the last day of his life.
According to the chronicles, Gastini - together with the other "old men from the oratory" - transformed the feast day of Don Bosco into a tradition still alive today. The celebration consisted of declamations and songs, testimonies and anecdotes in honor of Don Bosco, as well as a meal or a toast with a moment of prayer. The goal was to give thanks for the life and dedication of "dad Giovanni" (Bosco).
As Gastini once said: “We are all from Don Bosco. Nothing is ours here, everything is his." (MB XIII, 133).
When we meet, we feel that electric current that makes us tune in immediately to manage the same codes. Each of the Past Pupils has personal experiences full of memories and events, with faces of Salesians, of companions and of significant educators, with events and anecdotes concerning the oratorian companions and friends.
There is a common background theme: the meeting in the Salesian courtyard has transformed each one's life. “We love the educational experience we have lived and we would like many others to live it too: we have brought our children, our friends, wives and husbands to know those places that have been so significant in our life path. It's our way of showing affection and gratitude.”
We are no longer in a Salesian house, but we always remain with Don Bosco, because he has remained in us forever.
The Rector Major, Fr Á.F. Artime, invites all the Past Pupils to "be 'good Christians and upright citizens'; to promote human dignity and the identity of the family; to practice solidarity within and outside the Association, especially in favor of the most disadvantaged young people.