Italy – Toward Salesian welfare for poor youth: grassroots planning process of Salesians for Social begins

23 September 2022

(ANS - Rome) - Three days of listening, debate, and workshops: the national assembly of Salesiani per il Sociale, "Organizing Hope," concluded on Sunday morning, Sept. 18, with Fr. Francesco Preite, National President, summing up. "The process of programming from below begins now," said Fr. Francesco Preite. "It is a journey that will last until the next assembly, scheduled for June. In this period, the committees are called to elaborate on what was begun during these days."

These were three intense days, full of ideas and content: there were numerous speakers and guests who took part, delving into issues that are central to social issues in the country at this historical moment.

On the first day, after the presentation by Fr. Francesco Preite and the greeting by Fr. Roberto dal Molin, president of the Centro Nazionale Opere Salesiane (CNOS), the assembly offered a reflection on "European and Italian Scenario for Youth and Minors. What prospects and what risks?" The debate focused on many points: the importance of having a holistic approach to young people, without simplifications and taking into account those who live on the margins, fostering contact between "optimistic youth" and disillusioned ones - a process that, however, implies that adults know how to make space, “contaminating” themselves with the younger ones. Concerning the challenges to be faced with young people, the complexity and desire for the accompaniment of our young people, who have the right to consciously choose paths and journeys to embark upon, was recalled. Also stressed was the need to observe the growing and alarming phenomena of crime among the youngest: there is a desire for visibility that leads them to take paths of violence.

In the second panel, Valentina Bellis, Vice President of "Salesians per il Sociale", moderated the guests on the theme, "Salesians for Social Welfare: the face of Don Bosco in society with the Third Sector Forum. How to be builders of inclusive and participatory networks with and for young people?" On this occasion, the focus was on educational poverty and the solutions that can be put in place to enable children to succeed in the morning: the need is to set up a stable alliance in every struggling neighborhood to bring together educational sustainability to reach all children in school - and out - and social, environmental sustainability. From the Salesian perspective, the main focus on youth, especially the poorest, is constitutive: to avoid the risk of separating those who work with the at-risk poor and those who, on the other hand, work with seemingly problem-free youth.

In the third session, on the theme "Presentation of the Restitution Process of the International Congress on Salesian Social Works and Services and the Bottom-up Writing Process of the Programmatic Document," culture was put at the center: understood as the value of grafting and transforming the social, as a lens for reading the present and decoding reality and imagining the future. The panel closed with the presentation of the itinerary of the writing and planning process.

Instead, the fourth and final panel discussion allowed the heads of the various provincial committees to describe their reality and share a dream for the future: richness, transformation, circularity, welcome, Salesianity and complexity are what came out of the discussion, terms that photograph the social reality of Salesian Italy and are also the first words written on the white paper of programming. Finally, the key points of the action of Salesians for Social collected in the Social Report were also presented.

On the final day, the work developed around the Presentation of Programming 2022-2023 and was completed with communications from the different sectors and offices and the concluding Mass.


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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