Italy - Salesian Oratory: a past to be shared and a future to be invented

18 December 2018

(ANS - Rome) - "The Salesian oratory: history, testimonies, prospects" is the title of the study seminar held Thursday, December 13, at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, organized by the Salesian Historical Institute (ISS) , from the Don Bosco Study Center (CSDB) and the Faculty of Educational Sciences (ESF) of the same University (UPS).

What emerged from the day of study was the different inculturation, both theoretical and practical, that Salesian oratories have experienced according to the historical contingencies of their respective territories and the socio-religious season typical of young people in each and every age. As a logical consequence of the historical reflections that took place, a close presentation of the prospects for the oratories and youth centers of the near future was set forth.

Opened by the greetings of prof. Thomas Anchukandam, ISS Director, and of the FSE Dean, prof. Mario Llanos, and moderated by the ISS Coordination Secretary, prof. Stanisław Zimniak, the seminar was the occasion for the presentation of two volumes by Fr Pietro Braido, Una vita per lo studio, i giovani e l’educazione, i.e., "A life for study, youth and education"; presented by Fr Carlo Nanni, of the UPS; Per una storia dell’educazione giovanile nell’oratorio dell’Italia contemporanea. L’esperienza salesiana, i.e., "For a history of youth education in the oratory of contemporary Italy. The Salesian experience", presented by prof. Paolo Alfieri (Catholic University of Milan).

Subsequently, four different oratorian experiences in time and space were briefly described, in their own way illustrative of different realities: the Salesian oratory "reinvented in the New World", that is the oratory of San Francisco, USA, in the years 1900-1930 ; the oratory of Latina, challenged by the Fascist regime, (1930-1945); a Salesian oratory "in the catacombs", in Slovakia, between 1950 and 1970; and the oratory paradigm of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Valdocco, between the years 1960 and 1980.

The concluding report, "Towards the future of Salesian oratories", was presented by Giovanni d'Andrea, president of the association “Salesiani per il Sociale” (SCS) who discussed the many challenges of today's youth center - oratories: from marginalization, to interculturalism, from the digital world to new poverty, from the culture of work to educational alliances.

The seminar that took place is in perfect harmony with point n.143 of the recent final document of the Synod of Bishops on young people: "Oratories and youth centers and other similar structures (...) transmit a very rich educational heritage, to be shared on a large scale (...). In the dynamism of an outgoing Church, however, it is necessary to think of a creative and flexible renewal of these realities."


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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