Italy – In the footsteps of Don Bosco: an experience that makes you dream

07 June 2024

(ANS – Turin) – On 5 June 2024, the participants in the fourth level of the Salesianity Course concluded a 28-day journey through Italy, in the footsteps of St John Bosco. The experience was organised by the Salesian Centre for Ongoing Formation for America (CSFPA), based in Quito, Ecuador, and consisted of a pilgrimage through the places that preserve the memory of the life and work of Don Bosco, at the end of the four-year cycle of studies of  the "Initiation into Salesianity" course.  

The beginning of the trip was full of expectations for the participants. "Being able to be in the places where we were ‘founded’ fills the heart with joy, because it means knowing the places where the Salesian charism was born and spread," said Fr Jesús Medrano from the Province of Guadalajara, Mexico.

The course began in Turin and then continued in Annecy. Here the pilgrims visited the significant places in the life of Saint Francis de Sales, from which the Salesians inherited their spirituality and name, stopping in particular at the Basilica of the Visitation where the remains of the holy Geneva bishop and Saint Jane Frances Frémiot de Chantal are kept.

In Genoa, participants were able to visit the Salesian house loved by Don Bosco as a second Valdocco and the port from which the first missionary expedition to America departed. The house will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. "Here we have been able to reflect on what Jesus tells us in his word: go to the whole world to proclaim the Gospel, and we have understood the purpose of our charism" commented Brigildo de Deus, Salesian missionary in Southern Argentina.

A special moment was the stay at Colle Don Bosco, the childhood home of John Bosco as a child. There they relived the "Dream at Nine Years of Age" that marked the beginning and the entire development of their mission. This visit had a great impact on all the participants, also because of the 200th anniversary of that dream. “Being here is really a grace of God. Don Bosco brought us here, to let us have this experience, to get to know his simple life and see how from a family environment he managed to build what we now enjoy", Fr Melvin Severino, from the Dominican Republic, in the Province of the Antilles shared.

In Turin, in the Oratory at Valdocco, the nerve centre of the Congregation, everyone felt at home.They walked in the places where Don Bosco lived until his death, grasping a memory, an anecdote, a pedagogical or spiritual experience in every corner. The basilica of the "Teacher of Dreams", Mary Help of Christians, was like a magnet from which many could not detach themselves.

The experience finally ended in Rome, with a meeting with the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime. The participants had the opportunity to talk closely with him, as well as sharing the conclusion of their formation and receiving certificates from his hands the diplomas of completion of the fourth level of Salesianity. Bro. César Arrivillaga, from the Province of Northern Argentina, said that he felt he was "being with Don Bosco in person, as he is a significant presence for us Salesians, as he inspires us with identity and encourages us to continue in the Salesian mission".

During the 28 days of travel to the places that marked Don Bosco's life and of exploring his charism, the participants had an experience of deep communion with each other and of intense identification with the spiritual gift and the mission that the Spirit has planted in their hearts. Now they bring their souls full of gratitude and desire to pass on this same life, among the young people that Providence has entrusted to them.

To relive this formative pilgrimage, you can also visit the YouTube channel of the Salesian Centre for Ongoing Formation America.


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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