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An advocate for the young

placeholder January 23, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
An advocate for the young

For this month of January, I will step out of the role of columnist and proudly express my Salesian identity. This is the month the Church remembers St. John Bosco, the Father and Teacher of the young.

This marvelous saint is the founder of my order, the Salesians of Don Bosco, or the Society of St. Francis de Sales. We use the familiar title of “Don Bosco” when referring to this great saint and all over the world, this apostle to and for the young is remembered and imitated.

Don Bosco (pictured below) promoted a style of outreach to young people he called the Preventive System. He became involved in the lives of the youth who were at risk, preventing them from falling into the dangers of sin and the attacks of an ungodly world. He sought to give them meaning and purpose, making of them “honest citizens” and “decent Christians.” His secret weapon and genius was the insight that the best evangelizers to the young are the young themselves.

Don Bosco inspired the young to be leaders in society and in faith. It seems, this charism is needed as much today as it was in the mid-19th Century.

The Salesian Family of religious men and women, students and past students, youth ministers and lay collaborators, and the special lay family of the Salesian Cooperators worldwide are preparing for a unique event. Don Bosco was born on Aug. 16, 1815. We are fast approaching 200 years. To mark this anniversary and to launch newer initiatives of all kinds for the youth of the world, the Salesian Family is preparing with three years of study and prayer.

The first year in this program began last August and its theme is to study Don Bosco as a man of history, as an educator and as one who has a particular place in the study of education and evangelization.

Beginning in August 2012, the Salesian world will focus on the pedagogy and the educational methods of St. John Bosco. This leads to August 2013 and the launching of a study of the Salesian Spirituality—a unique gift of holiness for the world. The final year will focus upon the young of the world and seek out new frontiers to assist them in transforming the world into the image and likeness of their Lord, Jesus Christ. They are the best witnesses to one another. We are called to advocate for them and animate their efforts.

I would like to invite all of the readers to join in these efforts to come to know and imitate this great friend of the young. Let us pray for the gift to become advocates and defenders of the young in all parts of the world and in our communities. Let us ask for the grace to ignite in their hearts a love for God and a thirst for justice.

Keep an eye open for events in your communities for the study and imitation of Don Bosco. Be sure to seek out whatever resources are available recounting the wondrous adventure of this saint who launched one of the largest youth movements in history. I am proud to be a Salesian of Don Bosco and I invite you to share our journey to holiness. For more information, contact us at DonBoscoHallCA@gmail.com.

(Father John Roche, SDB, is director of the Institute of Salesian Studies at Don Bosco Hall in the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley, and an adjunct professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.)

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