Portugal – Interview with the Rector Major of the Salesians, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime

(ANS – Fatima) - During his visit to Portugal for the National Day of the Salesian Youth Movement and the Pilgrimage of the Salesian Family to Fatima, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation, gave a brief interview to the Salesians in Portugal, in which he talks about the importance of young people in the Salesian charism, the current challenges of the Congregation and its prospects for the future.

This is his fourth and final visit to Portugal as Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation. What is it like to witness the spiritual and human growth of young people through the Salesian charism?

I think Don Bosco's charism is also a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Therefore, when we help young people to make a journey to reach Christ, we do good to the Church, not only to Salesian spirituality. I really think that young people, who are on a deep spiritual journey, can continue to grow in the faith, and have a lot to do to be able to accompany and be a reference for other young people. It is a very beautiful journey in our Church.

What are the most touching memories you have of interacting with young people in Salesian environments in Portugal?

I have always felt, in young Portuguese, a characteristic that you have: you are very loving, very affectionate. The other aspect, a very positive one for me, is that the young people of the Salesian world are young people who have a lot of religious sensitivity. So we have extraordinary possibilities, and I carry this strong experience in my heart.

How will the new functions you will perform as a Cardinal expand your ability to serve the Church and young people around the world?

I believe that a person's life does not end when they leave one service to start another. I believe that God, who guides the lives of all of us, and also mine, has given me the opportunity to continue to serve the whole Church – not only in what I will do, but already in my service as Bishop and Cardinal – with the same way of serving that I have always done. Both here with you now, as Rector Major, but also as Bishop and Cardinal. I am sure that I will have many opportunities to continue to accompany the lives of young people and to be present with them at some point.

What is your dream for the Salesian Congregation?

This is a question to which I have a very clear answer. My dream for the Congregation, now and in the future, is that of a great charismatic fidelity to the Lord Jesus, through fidelity to the style of Don Bosco.

My greatest joy will be, after some time, to hear people tell me: "Don Ángel, your Congregation - because it will always be my congregation, because I am always a Salesian - is more faithful today than when you were Rector Major". That would be the best news they could give me.

Finally, what message or challenge would you like to leave to the young people of Salesian works in Portugal? And what words would you also like to give to Salesian educators?

To young people, without a doubt, that they are young. Young Christians and Salesians, may you always see God, the Lord Jesus, in your spirit and in your life. I think the best thing we can offer young people is the experience that God loves them all, and that  you cannot live in the same way without God.

To my brothers and sisters, as to all educators, laymen and laywomen: you are the arms of Don Bosco, you are Don Bosco's smile today, you are his word today so that Don Bosco can continue to help young people. This is why I am very happy to hear that the Salesian mission is alive today and even more alive than in the past. Let us go on together. I deeply believe that the mission we share, a shared mission, has a very special power.


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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