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Opening address by Fr Adrian Bregolin – Vicar of the Rector Major - 22 January 2009



Dear brothers and Sisters, members of the Salesian Family

Together with the Rector Major and his Council, Salesians at the General House and all the organising team, I would like to offer a warm and fraternal welcome to these “Salesian spirituality Days” for 2009.  Thank you for having responded this year too, by coming to this gathering which is one of the most significant occasions for celebration and life for the worldwide Salesian Family.

We are here in large numbers again this year. More than 340 have registered. Almost all of the official groups in the Salesian Family are represented. Various Superiors General or their central personnel are here. Even if the majority of participants are from Italy, there are more than  25 countries represented.

I am especially happy as well, to emphasise the presence of groups admitted to the Salesian Family by the Rector Major during January, like “The Disciples”, who are involved in the work of evangelisation in villages and small parishes, and friends of “Cançao Nova” a public association of the faithful founded by Fr. Jonas Abib, whose charism is especially the work of evangelisation through  social communication.

An especially pleasing presence , this year,  is the notable group of young Salesians and Salesian Sisters. I am referring to Sisters in their first years of profession and priests in their quinquennium from the Southern Provinces (Italy) of both the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Salesian Sisters. Also invited to this gathering by the Rector Major himself are Salesian and FMA novices. We believe the presence of these young Salesians and Sisters, as also the novices, is especially important, since we are of the opinion that a change of mentality with regard to the Salesian Family is more urgent than ever. The Salesian Family is a reality to get to know, to experience and love from the earliest years of formation. The Rector Major reminds us in his Strenna when he exhorts us to give life to a Salesian Family culture: “that … the vision of working together, can move through all the branches and the whole tree, it is essential that all the members of each group become aware that they belong to a vast movement of people, which has arisen from the apostolic heart of Don Bosco, and are ready for teamwork, convergence, many kinds of collaboration which are different, simple and easily updated. We are not looking for huge organisation which starts from the top to point out what must be done, but a strong impulse of a spiritual kind which gives life to the cells and organisms, to create possible forms of collaboration.”.

Don Bosco's charism keeps all its relevance in full, but educational challenges and  and those tied to activity of evangelisation in today's world are so strong as to require of us a deep charismatic communion and apostolic synergy which is stronger than ever.

The Strennas of recent years on themes of particular relevance like the family, life and education have strongly moved us to concrete action, giving rise everywhere to a flourishing of practical initiatives, educative and apostolic proposals.  So why a Strenna on the Salesian Family, after themes which have so involved us? the Rector Major's choice this year aims at bringing us back to a consideration of our identity as a “grand movement aimed at the good of the young”. Our great apostolic passion has unique roots: the “Da mihi animas” of Don Bosco. What he experienced in his heart as a grand ideal for building the Kingdom of God, is for us today our “inheritance and a mission to be fulfilled”. All this is entrusted to each of us, our groups, but especially our Salesian Family as a whole. So we are reflecting then on the Salesian Family so we can work better, together and more effectively in the field of life, family, human rights and education.

As always, my first invitation to this wonderful assembly is to experience, with particular intensity and spirit of fellowship, this days together, sensing the joy of Don Bosco himself in seeing us all united, in common spirit and mission on behalf of the young, the poor, the  least. What makes our meeting so wonderful is not just the wealth of content offered, but the sharing we can put in place, and especially the spirit of communion we can have amongst us. we represent different hues and aspects of the one charism which arose from the heart of Don Bosco. All together we want to be a great movement of the Spirit, a great force for love for the good of the young of our time.

And now I would like to offer an initial greeting to our friends from Spain. It is one of the groups we always have at this gathering. Thank you for your presence and the liveliness of your groups, especially the Salesian Cooperators and ADMA. I equally greet those from Portugal. They are also always faithfully present at this gathering.

Thanks too to those from Ecuador. This summer, profiting from the presence of Fr Julio Olarte in Quito, I put a challenge before the Salesian Family in that country. And it was accepted. Here they all are. Not 20 as I asked for, but a larger group..

I would like to greet all those coming from afar and especially members of smaller Congregations and Groups. I would like to tell you that you are dear to the heart of Don Bosco and his successor. In any family everyone is important and essential.

Thank you dear friends, for being here; your presence speaks of the joy of belonging to the Salesian family; your presence speaks of your love for Don Bosco and his 9th Successor Fr Pascual Chavez Villanueva who will be here amongst you, throughout these days, to encourage you along this path.

May Don Bosco accompany our gathering, help us to reflect through his mind, love with his heart, urge us on to put our lives at his disposition, until our last breath, for the good of the young. He is certainly there offering his blessing on each of your lives and on our entire Salesian Family.

Rome, 22 January 2009.                                      

                                                                  Fr Adrian Bregolin
                     Vicar of the Rector Major

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