“Hours before taking part in the Way of the Cross with 800,000 pilgrims, the four Salesian leaders met with some journalists and media collaborators who are following the Salesian participation in World Youth Day Lisbon 2023.
The meeting yesterday afternoon, 4 August, was arranged by the organisation to give journalists and collaborators the opportunity to hear the impressions of the two superiors and the two heads of youth ministry about the Day and Salesian participation.
Ángel described what he witnessed on 2 August in Lisbon during the SYM Forum and in Estoril during the afternoon and evening at the WYD Don Bosco 23 party. “I am impressed by the degree of identification of young people. The ability to move from celebration to silence during the Vigil”.
For Sister Chiara Cazzuola, the atmosphere that was experienced throughout the ceremony “brings out the journey that is made by these young people”. “The reaction at the Vigil is not rehearsed”, said Mother Cazzuola. The opening show of the afternoon, with the representation of the “Dreams of the nine years” of St John Bosco, “in a very suggestive way, “without words, greatly enriched the message”.
“Our young people do not make drama, heat, queues. When they are motivated they do not complain”
For Fr Miguel Ángel, two aspects stood out: “Our youth do not make drama, heat, queues. When they are motivated, they do not complain. Secondly, they are part of the Church, although they often go unnoticed in their parishes, in their dioceses, not here”.
Sister Runita Borja emphasised the “way of doing things” of the Salesian Family to describe what impressed her most during the WYD days she has already experienced. “I met João [Fialho] when I was 10 years old. Now he is here as an organiser”, she said.
The troubled period of the rectorate of the tenth Successor of Don Bosco, with very turbulent and difficult years, is a concern for the Salesian superior because of the impact it is having on young people. “I hope that the status quo does not absorb this youth, which is very beautiful, but which also suffers a lot from the lack of opportunities”.
In her assessment of the Salesian accompaniment of young people, Mother General emphasises the “great work of deepening spirituality” that the Congregation has managed to do over the years. “At the beginning, we were looking for a method and we found it”. It is a question of accompaniment,” she emphasised.
The same was emphasised by the person responsible for Youth Ministry, for whom the Salesian identity is that of close accompaniment, “friendship, the affective bond, hospitality, proximity”.
For Sister Runita, the commitment of the Salesian religious to his mission is total. “To offer everything, not only the fruits, but the roots and the whole plant. Always”.
Asked how the Church and the Congregation want to approach “digital youth”, the two superiors relativise.
“The most important part is always the charismatic one,” said Mother Chiara, despite the need to adapt to the new generations.
Sometimes, the Rector Major warned, “we run the risk of seeing the world from our perspective”. “Firstly, I would say that not everyone has access.More than a third of our presences are street children, children at risk, children living in great poverty”, he emphasised.
At the end of the meeting, which took place at the Salesians’ premises in Lisbon, where he is staying, the Rector Major went to the “Hill of Encounter”, to participate in one of the central events of this Day. 800,000 pilgrims, according to the Holy See Press Office, were reportedly in Eduardo VII Park and surrounding streets yesterday.