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Papua New Guinea - Msgr. Panfilo's thoughts on "Spirituality of Playground"
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02 November 2018

(ANS - Rabaul) - Can one speak of a "spirituality of the playground" for the Salesians? From this question a long and interesting reflection of Msgr. Francesco Panfilo, SDB, archbishop of Rabaul, for whom the answer is naturally affirmative.

"When I was a teacher of novices," writes Msgr. Panfilo, "I wrote an article entitled 'The Playground for the Salesians' and I asked myself: can we talk about the Spirituality of the courtyard or playground? I was convinced then, and I am still convinced today, that yes, we can. The courtyard for Don Bosco was as important as the Church. For him it was the place of personal contact, where a student could realize that there was a real interest in him, where the family spirit was manifested; the place where you can help problematic children (Michele Magone converted in the courtyard), the place where the boys were observed in their natural context."

Bishop Panfilo describes four scenes related to the playground.

First scene: the old Oratory and the moment of recreation or recess.

"It was a scene full of life, fun. It could be seen that great cordiality and trust reigned among the young and the superiors, their elders." The result is that this familiarity leads to affection and trust. This leads young people to open their hearts and to trust and entrust everything, without fear, to their teachers, assistants and superiors.

Second scene: the Oratory in the present.

Don Bosco writes: "I no longer heard shouts and joyous songs, there was no longer the lively activity of the previous scene. There was boredom, coldness, distrust that grieved me. What apathetic recreation."

Third scene: "What can we do?"

Don Bosco asks himself how to bring the youth back to the happiness and warmth of the past days. Giuseppe Buzzetti replies: "With charity". In fact, young people "must not only be loved, but must know that they are loved."


Fourth scene: where are our Salesians?

Don Bosco notices there are few priests who mix with the boys and even less are those who participate in their games. Buzzetti then urges him: "On the contrary, in the past days, at the Oratory, were you not always among the boys?"

This is to say that neglecting this part, that of being with the children in the yard, all the word done is wasted and young people end up losing confidence in their elders.

It could be said that today 

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