Italy – "In Valdocco everything speaks to us to continue to be apostles dedicated to the service of young people." Rector Major's homily for GC28's opening Mass

18 February 2020

(ANS - Turin) - Docility, fidelity and hope: these are the three attitudes proposed to the Chapter members during the opening Mass of the 28th General Chapter, presided by the Rector Major, and which involved his Vicar, Fr Francesco Cereda, and Fr Enrico Stasi, Provincial of the Circumscription based in Turin, as first concelebrants. A Basilica crowded with many faithful participated in the solemn celebration.

The Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, renewed his welcome greetings, expressing his emotion in seeing the face of the people of the world, the Provinces and the confreres in the face of those present. "Welcome all and to each and every one in the House that saw Don Bosco with his boys. This is a house that recalls that the General Chapter is not a company or an industrial organization that designs how best to produce, but an assembly that in faith wants to look to the past and faithfully look to the future. Faith and will of fidelity must guide the next 49 days: many think about it, many pray, and above all many children and young people await an answer from us. With faith and personal availability the Holy Spirit will guide the way."

"Welcome," the Rector Major repeated several times in the first Eucharist of General Chapter 28 celebrated in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.

"I have said on various occasions that here, in Valdocco, everything speaks to us in a Salesian way. Welcome to the Twenty-Eighth General Chapter here in Valdocco, where we return sixty-two years after the last Chapter celebrated here."

A task awaits the Chapter members: " to be a human mediation of the action of the Holy Spirit over the next seven weeks. If this were not the case, then it would not be a General Chapter of the Society of St Francis de Sales. It would simply be a congress like so many others, like those held every day by thousands of institutions of all kinds."

Fr Á.F. Artime continued: "And this will demand that as Chapter members at this moment of our Congregation’s history we recognise our own inadequacy, turn to the Spirit without whom we can do nothing of substance for the Kingdom of God, and adopt a stance of supplication, listening and docility. As the SGC20 said: 'In order to carry out the discernment and renewal needed, it is not enough to have historians, or theologians, or politicians, or organisers: what is needed are men who are known to be “spiritual”, men of faith, sensitive to the things of God and ready for courageous obedience, as was our Founder. True fidelity to Don Bosco consists not in copying him outwardly, but in imitating Don Bosco in his fidelity to the movements of the Holy Spirit'."

After recalling that Don Bosco was called "by God to carry out a youthful and popular apostolic service within the Church and this is how he spent his life as a priest, his charism as a founder and also his total giving of himself to the Lord," the Rector Major turned his attention to the present: "[Today] our GC28 aims to help the Congregation by showing how we can continue to be those same apostles today, dedicated to the service of youth in today’s world and contexts."

The full text of the homily is available on


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