Italy – Turin’s Basilica of Mary Help of Christians: "A home where everyone feels welcomed"

01 February 2022
Photo: Mihai Bursuc

(ANS - Turin) - "To Don Bosco, who wanted me here, every day I ask: 'What must I do to continue making the house of Mary Help of Christians, built by you with so much effort, beautiful and welcoming?'" This is one of the concerns of Fr Michele Viviano, a Sicilian born in 1962 and a priest since 1991, who has been Rector of the Basilica of Valdocco since last 1 September. Yesterday he celebrated his first feast day of Don Bosco in the Salesian Mother House, the place to which the entire Salesian Family spread in over 134 countries across the globe looks to as a charismatic point of reference.

“It’s the first time I’ve lived the feast day of Don Bosco next to him in the Basilica, here in these places where he began to welcome young people and with some to found the Salesian Congregation in 1854. And the memory goes to our patron Saint Francis di Sales, whose 400th-anniversary celebrations began last week. A saint to be rediscovered because Don Bosco gave him to us as a model.”

Fr Viviano, a professor at the "San Tommaso" Theological Institute in Messina, arrived in Turin after numerous assignments in Rome and Sicily. An appointment, Rector of the most important Basilica of the Congregation, which he really did not expect: “I feel privileged and live this mandate as a gift from Don Bosco for the 30th year of my ordination. In 2016, on my 25th anniversary, an obedience came to me for which I did not feel prepared: to my fairly quiet life as a teacher, I was asked to add the management of a reception center for migrants. It was the period in which Pope Francis invited us to open houses and religious institutes to host those who risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean. I welcomed that obedience as a gift from God for my 25th. Now, after 5 years, without ever having been a parish priest, the Rector Major asked me to come to Mary Help of Christians, where the mortal remains of our saint are venerated: how can it not be welcomed as a gift from God, as a call from Don Bosco?”

“Of course,” he continues, “it is a great responsibility, but what comforts and encourages me is that I have a community that supports me, confreres who help and collaborate. I’m the Rector, but even before me, the Basilica is entrusted to my community.”

Referring to the homily of Msgr. Nosiglia, Fr Viviano observes: “For the boys and girls who enter this church and these courtyards, the example of Don Bosco and his educational action is a strong appeal to esteem young people capable of great things and to encourage them not to never give up before difficulties.”

And he concludes, finally: “Our Basilica must offer, together with the Eucharistic Celebration and that of Reconciliation which are always well cared for, formative and cultural initiatives. But above all, as Don Bosco said of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, it must be a 'home' where everyone feels welcomed.”


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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