VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Salesians are aiming to have a greater impact on Europe, particularly by finding new ways of evangelizing youth.
The religious community has launched “Project Europe,” with the aim of leading the continent back to its Christian roots. The initiative is one of the conclusions of their General Chapter, celebrated in Rome from March 3 to April 12, with the participation of 232 Salesians.
According to a statement from the congregation, this project is similar to “Project Africa,” which was launched by the Salesians of the late 1970s and resulted in a surge of missionary activity on that continent.
“Project Europe” responds to desires expressed by Benedict XVI when he received the chapter fathers in audience March 30.
Father Pascual Chávez, rector major of the Salesians, mentioned the initiative in the closing address of the General Chapter.
“Today, more than ever, we become aware that our presence in Europe needs to be rethought,” he said. “This consideration is aimed at redimensioning our Salesian presence for greater impact and effectiveness in this continent. That is, seeking a new form of evangelization in order to respond to the spiritual and moral needs of these young people, who to us appear as wanderers without guides and without destination.”
Father Chávez, summarizing the conclusions of the General Chapter, highlighted three priorities for the congregation. He first focused on spirituality, putting the word of God and the Eucharist at the center of Salesian life.
He further emphasized the element of community life and finally the mission, especially to new frontiers including “formation and education at all levels.”
The rector major also focused on imitating the founder of the Salesians, St. John Bosco.
“What would Don Bosco do today?” he asked. “We don’t know. But we know what he did yesterday and therefore we can know what to do in order to act like him today. It is a question of knowledge and imitation.”
Father Chávez stressed the saint’s identity as a “priest-educator.”
“This is the model that we have,” he said, “and we are called upon to reproduce as faithfully as possible.”