Austria – Good Christians and upright citizens. Study Day on Salesian Family Strenna

28 January 2020

(ANS - Vöcklabruck) - "Is this an educational objective limited to Don Bosco's time or a challenge for world Salesian education today?" This is the question that Fr Josef Grünner SDB, Head of the Salesian Mission Office in Bonn, asked as the focus of his speech on the Rector Major's Strenna for 2020, as part of the Salesian Study Day held on Saturday, 18 January 2020, in Vöcklabruck.

Fr Grünner summarized the many answers of the over 100 participants in two sentences: "Good Christians are people who do not revolve around themselves, but who develop and move from 'I' to 'I am ready'. Upright citizens are people who uphold dignity, justice, sustainability ... in our one unique world."

Fr Grünner discussed whether the educational combination of Don Bosco, which guided him in Italy in the nineteenth century, can still be considered valid today in a "Salesian world" which sees the Don Bosco family present in countries with different religions, with predominantly non-Christian religions, in post-Christian societies, or even in officially secular or anti-religious countries.

He turned his attention, for example, to Burgstädt in the Saxony region of Germany: of the approximately 300 young students of the Salesian Vocational Training Center, over 90% do not belong to any religion; there are almost no young Catholics in the institution and of the circa 150 employees, less than half of them are Christians.

Another example is the Salesian school "EVRIM" in Istanbul, Turkey: the student community (400 pupils) and teaching staff are multi-religious and multicultural; Christian signs and activities are not allowed in the school. Is it possible to be able to give Salesian works like these a "Salesian character" that can radiate all around?

Furthermore, Fr Grünner stressed the importance of citizenship for the identity of the person. “A person who is born without citizenship or from whom it has been taken away is a person without rights and without freedom. For this reason, the United Nations has included the right to citizenship in all Human Rights. No person should live without this 'basic contract' between the state and the individual."

The reflection was then studied and discussed in four working groups:

- Climate and environment: "Good land, all fine and good".
- Parish and community: "Fellow citizens and members of God's household (cf. Eph 2:19)".
- Aid to refugees: "Education to become an upright, honest citizen in today's world".
- Song: "Music as an integral contribution to the human being, or being human".

The study day received a lively and cheerful note from the performance of the ensemble of the Salesian Youth Movement which recorded the CD "Freude verbindet", or Joy Unites.

Sister Maria Maul, FMA



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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