by Fr Silvio Roggia, SDB
For this reason, first and foremost, one had to listen to those more directly 'knowledgeable' as regards the accompanying processes, that is, of those who experience it from the prenovitiate to the end of the five-year term.
A solid twenty-page questionnaire was proposed to the younger members of the Congregation to which a large number of guides, or accompanying members, (538) from all seven Salesian regions needs to be added, for a total of circa 4,000 Salesians interviewed.
In the forthcoming months, a series of specialized studies shall reveal important indicators and messages, all the more relevant what with the Rector Major's Strenna 2018 and the Synod of October 2018, which aims to bring young people to the forefront.
A quick and early view of the collected data highlights a number of interesting points. Of the over 4,000 questionnaires received, 3,190 were compiled by confreres, novices, prenovices under 31 years of age. The total number of Salesians just slightly exceeds 14,500. This means that among the Salesian there is a very important group of young people whose solid and convinced Salesian identity the future of the Congregation itself depends upon.
Another significant fact is the language. The questionnaire was distributed in six languages, but the answers in English were 52.5% of the total; this helps imagine how the pious Salesian Society shall evolve over the next ten years.
The questionnaire also reveals a great openness to spiritual accompaniment, with over 70% of respondents claiming to have started their journey during initial formation: a renewed reference to the importance of the quality of those first steps, steps which mark and direct much of their future journey.
Finally, among the appeals that emerge across the board, from the replies by young people in formation of all the Provinces (100%!), is the request to best qualify the accompanying guides. An appeal that involves everyone, because accompanying young people as educators and pastors is, indeed, the very charism of the Salesians of Don Bosco.