Italy - An oratory in step with the times: Fr Maschio's recipe

01 March 2018
Photo: Beatrice Mancini

(ANS - Schio) - "The oratory can no longer be what it was fifty years ago, because society has changed. Once the only proposals - cinema, sport, music - were ours, today they are secular activities. Therefore, either we plan an attractive offer, or we close." Fr Alberto Maschio, a 58-year-old Salesian, the last four spent in reviving the Salesian oratory in Schio, has some very clear ideas.

by Romina Gobbo

Fr Maschio started from the most basic elements: a constant presence alongside young people and some clear rules. Children and parents have been following at his side.

He is a secretary, a receptionist, a custodian, Director of the community, Economer, in charge of the oratory ... "But before being a priest, I am a Salesian," he points out. Four years ago at the oratory there were only young time wasters. "I asked the police for help to check if drugs were circulating. Better to prevent. Then I hung a sign with the rules. First of all, to greet and respect the environment. Those who do not agree, clash with me. Don Bosco loved the young, but he was strict. In fact, if I want to foster an educational environment, I have to take the trouble to get it. Little by little the climate has changed. Word of mouth did the rest. Now every day there are children, boys and adults. "

For Fr Maschio, following in the footsteps of Don Bosco came naturally: "the oratory must respond to a need for education, must have a clear, Christian proposal. Those who choose us must perceive in our activities an educational spirit, a welcoming one. This means a constant presence: you have to be there every afternoon. Our oratory is always open, even at Christmas and Easter. And I'm here, even if there are only three kids. It means spending all summer between school camps and summer groups. I do not remember ever taking personal holidays."

In light of the times, the tools at hand must also be renewed . "If I offer summer camps, first I will form the animators. If I play football, I look for a good coach. And I stay with them. Then maybe even the speeches of faith will come."

But Fr Maschio knows he cannot do everything by himself. "Here lay people come into play, people who should not be left alone, but accompanied. I provoke them: 'You register your son at the oratory and you do not get involved?' This is how the adult group was born, about forty people, who collaborate in the activities, but above all gather to listen to the Word and reflect."


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.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".