Spain – "The Salesian courtyard": sixth meeting of the Salesian Social Platforms

17 May 2024

(ANS – Seville) – The sixth meeting of the Social Platforms of Spain's Mary Help of Christians  Province (SMX) was held on "The courtyard as the central space of the educational relationship". The main presentation was given by Fr Rafael Bejarano, responsible for Works and Social Services, Migrants and Volunteers in the Youth Ministry Sector.

The provincial meeting is a formation proposal and a meeting place for the educational teams for the different projects and resources of the three entities that make up the Salesian Social Platforms in the SMX Province: FISAT Foundation, Don Bosco Foundation and Sant Jordi Salesians.

About 400 people from the Salesian Social Platforms teams shared this new formation opportunity to share knowledge and experiences and continue to grow in the mission, caring for their teams and strengthening the educational proposal.

The day focused on the importance of the Salesian courtyard or playground as a meeting place where bonds are created and the foundations of the educational relationship are woven.

The theme of the meeting, which took place online, was the different experiences of the "Salesian courtyard" in the respective projects of the Social Platforms. Through the micro-testimonies of educators and participants, the play spaces and the sense of belonging that is generated through their dynamics were made visible.

During the meeting, through a video message, the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime, offered his reflection, referring to the courtyard as one of the four pillars of Salesian education. "We Salesians say in our Constitutions that every Salesian presence is a home that welcomes, a school that educates, a parish that evangelises and a courtyard where friends meet” the Rector Major said. "The courtyard is a space of freedom, it is a meeting place for friendship, it is the ideal of the possibilities of the Salesian sacrament of presence, it is an opportunity for everyone to be themselves", he said.

Fr Joan Valls, Provincial Coordinator of the Salesian Social Platforms, took up the same concept of the courtyard and recalled that  for Don Bosco the courtyard is "the heart of all educational activity, the centre of all potential encounters, relaxation, the word in the ear, play, in which everyone is who they are without artifice or fear; and many other things."

"Perhaps we have limited the courtyard to a physical space," Fr Valls said, "but the courtyard is much more than that. It is a pedagogical place, a privileged setting for our educational activity, a spiritual place where we experience the most important values, and a theological place, a privileged place where we experience our encounter with God and help young people to do the same. This reflection is necessary today, because it is necessary to redefine what the playing field is in our environment of social platforms."

The main address of the day was from Fr Bejarano, who proposed revisiting the Salesian courtyard through a reinterpretation of the gospel and extrapolating the action of Jesus in the work of educators, to analyse the meaning of the Salesian courtyard today in Salesian social projects.

"In the courtyard we will verify the meaning of our affective and effective presence" Fr Bejarano said, inviting participants to reflect on what they feel when they meet young people in the courtyard.

“The playing field is the key to the success of Salesian pedagogy. In a globalised world, the real difference lies in the playing field. The latter is the opportunity for the educator to get in touch with young people" Fr Bejarano continued, then remarking that the playground is not just a physical space, but "an attitude, the ability to feel close to the children even in a formal space."

The second presentation was from Jota Llorente, National Coordinator of Salesian Social Platforms. Llorente shared his knowledge and experiences of social and educational innovation and explained the difficulties encountered in reflecting on how technology influences us in a changing world that is very complex.

After analysing the way in which the different generations relate to technology, he stressed the importance of combining real and digital space and provided the keys to understanding how the presence of professionals on social platforms should be, highlighting the following:

  • Talk to them. The key is the tone: clear, direct, organic, genuine, positive and empathetic message;
  • Be natural and real, giving priority to real experiences and testimonies;
  • Enter into their daily lives and suggest to enter into alternative channels to those of the social entity which they use regularly.



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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