Italy – Volunteers with Don Bosco 25th Anniversary: Memory & Prophecy

11 September 2019

(ANS – Rome) – The Volunteers with Don Bosco (CDB) are in a festive mood. The Institute, part of the Salesian Family from its beginning, is celebrating its Silver Jubilee: Twenty-five years for God and for the world. God has done great deeds in this Institute from the first years in which the desire of a handful of men from different parts of the world to live their Baptism in the world in a radical way through consecrated life in a Salesian style materialized in the hands of Fr Egidio Viganò, until today when they are reflecting on the expansion of the Institute in so many parts of the world.

12 September 1994 was the official beginning of the Institute which formed around Fr Viganó and his collaborators. In December 1993, he met the members of the group and those who accompanied them in Rome. He met them again the following year and decided to officially start the Group of “Volunteers With Don Bosco” on 12 September 1994, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. On the same day, the "ad experimentum" Constitutions were drawn up and the first professions took place. At the same time, the Rector Major, Fr Egidio Viganó, recognised the group's membership in the Salesian Family.

As the date for the 25th Jubilee of their founding approaches, the Moderator General of the Institute has encouraged its members to reflect seriously on the birth of this charism in which "the Holy Spirit is concretely manifested in history." This takes place in a very concrete way in Don Bosco. "Don Bosco is not the Holy Spirit, but Don Bosco is the manifestation of the charism that the Holy Spirit wanted to arouse in the Church with certain characteristics."

He reminds them in his letter of what the young Cagliero said: "Friar or not friar, I want to be with Don Bosco". The phase "being with Don Bosco" meant accepting the charism of the Holy Spirit through Don Bosco. "Being with Don Bosco” was neither a juridical phrase nor a religious phrase but an expression of young people who were enthusiastic about Don Bosco's spirit and mission, and they said: "We are with him".

Secular institutes have no community. However, "one is not a Christian without a great sense of communion. Communion here, in addition to Christian communion with all, requires special attention, sympathy, dedication, sacrifices for what concerns the Institute: communion with colleagues.

He also stresses that "in your life, everything becomes vague if there is no concrete apostolic activity. Don Bosco's charism has the 'grace of unity', that vitally unites a secure interiority with concrete activity. If there is no activity in all that we do all through the day, what do we think about? Prayer, what does it consist of? You will not be monks, but apostles are born concretely from these prayers. Apostolic activity is as important as prayer because prayer is the soul of activity. Apostolic commitment is the soul of prayer. The grace of unity is between these two poles: the pole of being with the Holy Spirit, the pole of being with the young, with human beings today and their problems.

The CDB are a young Group at the stage of consolidation. There are currently 85 of them spread through 27 countries. Despite their specific element of reserve, they deserve to be known as an institute of Salesian consecrated secular life. Don Bosco's dream of having "external" Salesian consecrated individuals has been fulfilled in this instance (as it has in others, e.g. the Don Bosco Volunteers): lay people who feel called to consecrate themselves to the Lord by vow, remaining in the normal environments of life, living the radical nature of their baptism and their professional and apostolic work with a Salesian spirit.

By CDB Moderator General


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