Italy – "Educational poverty: the Salesian presence and educational proposal in Sicily"

10 April 2024

(ANS – Catania) – The "Educational poverty: the Salesian presence and proposal in Sicily" Conference was held on Saturday, 6 April at the Don Bosco theatre in the Salesian Institute at Cibali, in Catania, promoted by the Salesians of the Saint Paul Province of Sicily (ISI) and by the Sicilian Territorial Committee of "Salesians for Social APS". At the end of the conference, this committee held its own meeting in order to renew its commitment and qualified dedication to the service of its beneficiaries.

The conference on educational poverty and the responses of the Sicilian Salesian Family offered an important opportunity to the entire regional educational situation that is inspired by Don Bosco to reflect and share experiences and innovative proposals. During the work, we did not limit ourselves to analysing the problem, but worked to identify concrete strategies and effective solutions to combat educational poverty and promote inclusive and quality education for all young people, regardless of their socio-economic background.

After greetings from the Prefect of Catania, Dr Maria Carmela Librizzi, the archbishop of the Diocese of Catania, Archbishop Luigi Renna, and the Provincial of the Salesians in Sicily, Fr Giovanni D’Andrea, there were two addresses: "The relevance of the Salesian educational proposal", by Fr Francesco Preite, Salesian President for Social Affairs, and "Mapping of the Salesian presence in Sicily", given by Fr Alberto Anzalone, Youth Ministry Delegate for ISI. The two addresses resulted in an interesting discussion with the assembly, made up of numerous Salesians, professionals in the sector, young people, members of the Salesian Family.

In the second part of the conference, a round table took place, coordinated by Dr. Letizia Scandurra, Head of the office for the Universal Civil Service and social planning for the Salesians of Sicily, in which the following took part: Prof. Giuseppe Vecchio, Sicilian Guarantor for Children and Adolescents, Prof. Carlo Colloca, Professor of Urban Sociology at the University of Catania, and the Hon. Giuseppe Lombardo, Member of the Sicilian Regional Assembly and member of the Social and Health Services Commission. During this discussion, the various speakers identified, each according to their own specific areas, the contours and contexts of educational poverty and indicated work paths for the future.

"It was a morning of discussion and formation that urged us to work increasingly in the network to weave the educational fabric of our territory," commented one of those present at the meeting.

For his part, Fr Preite stressed: "Faced with these data on educational poverty in Sicily, we cannot give up, nor ‘blame’ poverty on minors and poor young people. We cannot stop at the cross on Good Friday. We have to go to Easter. We are called to rise again. It is not just a verbal act: it is an operational, concrete act."

And just to illustrate the concreteness of the Salesian commitment, Fr Preite went on to indicate a model project to combat educational poverty and indicated the secret to success in inter-institutional collaboration: "As Salesians for Social we are experimenting in different parts of Italy with a new program: the ‘OfficineDonBosco’. There is a need to join forces between local authorities, businesses, vocational training and the third sector to offer a community response to the needs of young people in NEET condition (those who do not study, do not train professionally and do not work in Italy). Alone, the social private individual cannot do everything: it is necessary to network. As Pope Francis suggests: ‘a union of skills and a unity of achievement’ (Laudato Si', 219) is called for."

As mentioned, the conference had a natural continuation in the afternoon for the approximately 50 representatives of the different bodies of the Sicilian Territorial Committee of "Salesians for Social", who gathered in a restricted form for their meeting.

"With Fr Preite, President, Renato Cursi, Executive Director of Salesians for Social, and their team, we have become increasingly aware that the sense of belonging must be organised, starting from the programmatic document ‘Organizing hope‘, on the example of Don Bosco attentive to the poorest young people; with a watchful eye on the poverty of today's young people in our land of Sicily" one of the participants concluded.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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