"We all would have liked to participate but we wouldn't all fit," the Director, Fr. Alessandro Borsello, pointed out, as he welcomed Msgr. Repole back to "his high school." The occasion, as introduced by Father Silvano Oni who traced the history of the Institute's history, was given by the 150th anniversary of the Salesians' presence in Valsalice: it was one of Msgr Repole's predecessors, Archbishop Lorenzo Gastaldi, who asked Don Bosco to open a studentate in Thovez Street, and the saint of youth was buried there from 1888 to 1929, until, because of his Beatification, the urn with his remains was transferred to the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.
Raised with his family in Druento, as he explained while answering numerous questions prepared by the editorial staff of "Il Salice," the Institute's web newspaper, Msgr. Repole entered the seminary at the age of 11, and in his youthful scholastic formation, the Salesians played an important role: after junior high in Valdocco he received his classical diploma in 1986 at the Valsalice high school.
His meeting with his teacher of Philosophy and History, Fr. Giovanni Fontana, was moving, and he thanked him: "Here I met teachers who 'built up my muscles'; I learned a serious and rigorous method of study, elements that are also important for intellectual work," the archbishop recalled, responding to the students who asked him what remained of the Salesian charism in his formation as priest and theologian, teacher and now archbishop. "I was left with the attention to younger people also because I have spent many years teaching and, as a Salesian legacy, I have in mind some professors, even older ones, who still enjoyed spending time with us students. A testimony that I then tried in turn to transfer to my students."
Many and of a broad variety, the questions the distinguished past pupil then answered, questions such as: Why did you become a priest?; What did you think when Pope Francis appointed you as Archbishop?; What books are essential for kids like us to read; What music do you listen to? What do you read in the eyes of young people today and what is most important to you?
"I read," he replied, "a lot of beauty, attention to respect for everyone, but also fears because for young people today, the certainty of stable affection is less taken for granted. And we adults must not crush you with the great expectations we have of you. But first of all, as Don Bosco did, we must love you and try to answer your questions of meaning."
Finally, the central answer: "The most important thing for me? I have not yet found anything in my life that is more beautiful than Christianity."