Italy – International Congress of Salesian Works and Social Services begins

29 September 2022

(ANS - Turin) - The International Congress of Salesian Works and Social Services began yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 28, in the charismatic heart of the Congregation, in Turin-Valdocco. Inside the Teatro Grande Valdocco, the approximately 300 participants, who came representing all the Provinces and Vice-Provinces of the Congregation, along with a selected group of young people, were able to listen to the introductory speech by Fr. Miguel Ángel García, General Councilor for Salesian Youth Ministry and promoter of the Congress, and to receive the first useful indications on the development and methodology of the activities from Fr. Rafael Bejarano, Reference Person for Social Works within the Sector of Youth Ministry and coordinator of this appointment.

Also present on the stage at the opening moment of the Congress were Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, who for all the days of the event, until October 2, will animate a fraternal dialogue with the young people; and Fr. Leonardo Mancini, Superior of the Piedmont and Aosta Valley Special Circumscription. Both offered their warm welcome to all present.

The activities of the Congress came fully into full swing in the morning today, Thursday, Sept. 29. Early in the morning Fr. Bejarano and Mr. Javier Carabaño Rodriguez, a specialist in communication and identity and linked to the Salesian environment, jointly led a Lectio Divina starting with the episode of the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain. In this first stage of their meditative journey - which will be completed in the coming days - the reflection highlighted the difference between the joyful community of the disciples who have Jesus as their guide and the community of Nain that is saddened by the untimely death of the young man.

"The image proposed to us by this scene has much to say to our Salesian charism," the two Lectio Divina leaders underscored. "And it continues to reproduce itself day after day, the encounter of life that brings hope and joy with situations of despair and death in every corner of the earth. The Salesian proposal of the Social sector is a sign of joy and life that confronts daily the cruel and sad faces of so many young people affected by misery, violence, ignorance, and exploitation."

Next, the day’s central lecture was offered by Card. Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and Coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, former President of Caritas Internationalis (2007-2015). In his articulate speech, titled "Current relevance of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Integral Human Development and the Role of Salesian Works and Social Services," the Salesian cardinal began by emphasizing, with some deliberately provocative questions, the enduring relevance, even today, in the face of global challenges and the enormous social transformations taking place, of Christian Social Doctrine.

Then, he reiterated the importance of living a coherent life of faith united in contemplation and in action: "Our social conduct is an integral part of our following of Christ," he asserted, immediately before spending a few words warning against ideologies that risk compromising the existence and work of Christians.

Next, the cardinal looked in particular at the Magisterium of Pope Francis: first, he remarked on its centrality to young people as agents of change; then he explained the concept of social peace, which is achieved when inequalities are combated and harmony is fostered; and he also emphasized the pope's insight on the theme of Integral Ecology "which incorporates in an interdisciplinary way the multiple aspects of the problem: economic, cultural, social..."

Finally, he illustrated chapter by chapter the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, called by the Pontiff himself his "Social Encyclical," in which Pope Francis "indicates concrete ways for those who want to build a more just and fraternal world in daily relationships, social life, politics, and institutions."

After also addressing the various global problems, "which require global action" - the issues of Rights, migration, politics as a service, regulation of economic systems, peace, the death penalty, religious freedom... - the Honduran Salesian concluded by calling for a return to the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals, stating that "the Salesian Family has here a very broad horizon for Salesian social works and services."

The morning then continued with the youth forum with the Rector Major, on the role of Salesian Past Pupils in social works, and the launching of the mini-courses pertaining to Salesian work with the neediest youth: participants were able to choose from the following topics, all led by authoritative experts:

–       Spiritual accompaniment of young people at risk

–       Building the Salesian Pastoral Educational Program of social works from the Word of God, the Magisterium of the Church, and Salesian Tradition.

–       Human rights, preventive system, and models of social intervention.

–       Meaningfulness and sustainability of social work: the framework of youth ministry in relation to quality systems and integrated management

–       Evangelization and human mobility (migrants, refugees, and displaced persons).

–       The contribution of Christian and Salesian identity in public policy making, participation in local and international forums, and social mobility.

–       Measuring the impact on social works

–       Volunteering and social innovation

–       Social management: networking with mission offices, participation in international associations, fundraising

–       Salesian charism: development cooperation, animation, political advocacy, Development Goals, UN and EU forums

–       Vocational training, employability, and inter-institutional relations

–       Technologies applied to social intervention

In the afternoon, the work continued divided into groups with the sharing of different good practices implemented around the world in the following areas:

–       Street youth and rehabilitation

–       Youth in conflict with the law

–       Migrants and refugees

–       Alternative services: Social circus

–       working-class environments

–       Women - families - indigenous peoples

–       Networks and institutional development

–       Interculturality and conflict

–       Development cooperation.

For more information, visit the Congress website or the Youth Ministry Sector Facebook page.


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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