Italy – Salesians for Social APS, Fr Preite: "The two youth emergencies are education and work"

(ANS – Bari) – "The two youth emergencies are education and work": this was stated in an interview on the sidelines of the "Past, present and future of the Libertà district" event – one of the difficult districts in the Apulian capital – Fr Francesco Preite, National President of Salesians for Social APS, who for many years was the Director of the Salesian Redentore oratory in Bari. The Bari event was part of the Community Hub municipal initiative in support of some problematic districts such as Libertà and Enziteto.

Fr Preite, you are now playing a very delicate role in Rome among the Salesians, especially as far as social issues are concerned. What are the emergencies?

I would say that there are basically two emergencies. One is child poverty, and it is estimated that there are one million two hundred thousand children in poverty in Italy, who, among other things, drop out of school and the issue of dropping out of school must be evaluated. Of course – but this is no justification – similar situations lead to crimes being committed, as we saw recently with the raid in the old city in Bari. Repression, which is necessary at the right time, is not the only answer; we must prevent it. We are facing serious situations that challenge us all and disturb our consciences.

A second emergency is work, and we need better and more vigorous call-to-work policies. We need effective, active labour policies; only work brings dignity to people, not mere welfare, which is useful in critical moments and is a relief valve.

Education is one of the cornerstones of the founder of the Salesians, Don Bosco. "Work leads to what is called the sanctity of the ordinary, everyday, to the correctness of living in an upright way every day." St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, founder of Opus Dei, also said this...

In fact, on some things the two have much in common, such as, for example, a sense of realism, standing with their feet on the ground and their eyes raised to Heaven. Only work, as the Spanish saint said, sanctifies our life, makes it dignified and takes bad ideas out of our heads.

How would you describe the current situation of the country in terms of poverty?

Serious, but I am not about to enter into political issues that do not concern me. We must give young people clear, strong and appropriate answers.

You have been in Bari for a long time in the Libertà district; what do you say to your older citizens?

To dream big is wonderful. Today I am in Rome, I play a difficult and responsible role in the capital, but I have never forgotten Bari. I remain convinced that education and work are the path that leads to holiness of life. Especially learning the technical aspects of a trade; this was a constant preoccupation for St John Bosco.


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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