by Alberto Lopez Herrero
of Misiones Salesianas
What distinguishes the Salesians over a century and a half after Don Bosco founded the Congregation?
We are not an NGO. We are a community of men united by a vocation, consecrated religious who have fallen in love with Jesus seeing in Don Bosco a great man who in his heart carried an impressive educational passion for young people to the point of saying to himself every day: "my life for them." This is what most affects us and distinguishes us as Salesians. Our life, by personal choice, no longer belongs to us: I do not want it for myself. I want it to be given where there is a need for me - today here, tomorrow as a missionary. Our educational and evangelizing passion for young people distinguishes us.
What does it mean to be a Salesian missionary today?
The best thing about being a missionary is that one feels full of affection, faces, life encounters. All the effort, the heat, the hours in the car, the cold, do not weigh you down. We have a heart full of God to give to others, even in those times when fatigue is great. But we Salesians are not heroes. We are people fascinated by Jesus, in love with Don Bosco. We give our lives for the young and we want to consume our lives by giving ourselves to them. Today's Salesians believe in young people because a young person is never a problem, but is always an opportunity; and, as Don Bosco said, even the most difficult have an accessible point in the heart that is able to change.
What does Don Bosco have that is so magnetic to make him a saint that is contemporary and attractive to young people?
Don Bosco magnetizes us because he was a man who profoundly loved young people, his boys. Don Bosco who says "it is enough for you to be young to love you" is fascinating. A Salesian who repeats it to himself every day is never discouraged. One can be tired at the end of the day, but not discouraged. This is the “now-ness” of Don Bosco: there have always been young people, and there will always be, and the young people of the world I have met feel that Don Bosco is the man who dreamed them, and this is fascinating to me.