Pope Francis has stressed that just like Don Bosco, today’s Salesians face the challenge of how to take care of young people.
Despite having scripted remarks, the Holy Father called his prepared remarks “a little formal,” laid them aside, and spoke off the cuff to Salesians gathered in Turin for some 30 minutes.
Francis was addressing the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Turin’s Basilica of Mary Help of Christians during his two-day pastoral visit to the northern Italian city. St. John Bosco–commonly referred to as Don Bosco–founded the Salesians, along with their sister order the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Don Bosco is considered Turin’s most famous and known saint.
Throughout Francis’ remarks, he acknowledged how the economic crisis has robbed the youth of work and has stressed how–through following the example of their founder–their religious orders can help.
In response to this difficulty, he underscored the power of ‘Salesian creativity,’ which, he stressed, “must take in its hands these challenges, educate, and carry joy.” The Holy Father suggested that kids on the street, however, are in need of an ’emergency education.’
Salesians–the Pontiff stressed–must help poor young people learn skills. He stressed how in the midst of an economic crisis, jobs are immediately needed.
He urged the Salesians to use intelligence and creativity to help educate the young people so they can find work. Approximately 40 percent of the youth in Italy are unemployed.
The Holy Father also exhorted them to give poor young people food: “You can’t pray on an empty stomach.”
The Pontiff discussed three specific aspects of the charism of Don Bosco: his trust in divine Providence; his vocation to be a priest of the young, especially the poorest among them; his loyal and active service to the Church, particularly to the Pope.
The Argentine Pontiff with a great devotion to Mary explained, “We cannot understand Don Bosco without his mother, Mama Margherita.” He stressed that his mother educated him as he would educate others himself.
Pope Francis concluded, calling on the Salesians “to proclaim to all the mercy of Jesus, making ‘an oratory’ of every place, especially the most inaccessible; bearing in the heart the ‘oratorian’ style of Don Bosco and aiming at ever greater apostolic horizons,’ and lauded the many living religious institutions living “that today are living the charism of Don Bosco to share the mission of taking the Gospel to the furthest reaches of the peripheries.”