Love your neighbour as yourself

Love your neighbour as yourself

Rome (Italy). On July 15, 2016, VIDES General Elective Assembly took place at the Salesianum in Rome.  On July 16-18, the 11th VIDES International Convention took place with the participation of about 120 volunteers coming from 32 European, American, Asian, and African nations.
On the morning of July 15, Sr. Leonor Salazar, Director General of VIDES, and Guido Barbera, VIDES President, read the minutes of last year recalling the visit to VIDES groups in the Philippines and Korea; the various efforts at the United Nations; the VIDES projects accomplished in various Provinces, etc.  Following this was the Financial Report; the directives and activities for 2017; and the presentation of the candidates for elections to the VIDES International Council.
The new Council is as follows: Guido Barbera (Italy) President, Patrizia Biagini (Italy) secretary/councillor, Sr. Bernarda Santamaria (FMA Generalate)  councillor and treasurer,  Maria D’Onofrio (Switzerland), Sr. Debbie Ponsaran (FMA Generalate), Sr. Leslye Sandigo (FMA Generalate), Antonella Catini (Italy), Sr. Maria Teresa Cocco  (Provincial ILO Italy), Sr.  Halina Kocwin (PLJ Poland), Sr. Lise Parent (SUA Stati Uniti),  Sr. Maria Isabel Perez Sanz (SBA Spain), Bazabana Kouvivirila Prence Armand (Congo Brazz.), Thiago Luiz Queiroz Ferreira (Brazil), and Joseph Marquez (Canada) Councillors.  
In the afternoon, the VIDES group went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The 11th International Convention had the theme: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ with attention to the ethical, social, and political dimensions of VIDES volunteers.  The objectives of the Convention were: 1) develop in the young the capacity of a critical and participative reading of reality; 2) reinforce the conviction of the cultural, social, and political role of volunteering; 3) increase the operative capacity of VIDES volunteers as a network of youth associations and groups.

Fr. Giuseppe Bettoni, Founder of the ARCHE Association Onlus for children and mothers sick with AIDS, opened the Convention speaking on the theme: “Love for self and Volunteering: what is the relationship?”  From his presentation, there emerged some key ideas on Christian Anthropology: man image of God, male and female God created them, be fruitful, all human beings are children of God and therefore brothers and sisters, solidarity and fraternity always go together, every person is in need and is my neighbour.   There then followed workshops according to language groups: 2 groups in Italian, 2 groups in English, one group in Spanish, and one group in Thai.

In her Good Night, Sr. Leslye Sandigo, VIDES Councillor, presented the life of Sr. Maria Romero who was chosen as the Patron of VIDES.

On July 17th, Msgr. Silvano Tomai, Apostolic Nuncio since 2015 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, treated the theme: “Love of Neighbour and Human Rights”.  He discussed some themes: 1) Today the universal language of love of neighbour is the language of human rights; 2) Public Institutions need our love and the effort of volunteering; 3) every person in need is my neighbour.
After the presentation there were workshops and sharing in the assembly.


In the evening, Fr. Fabio Attard, SDB Councillor for Youth Pastoral, gave the Good Night on the Sunday Gospel, ‘be Martha and Mary to listen to Jesus and to our neighbour’.
There followed the first part of the People’s Feast through which the volunteers and VIDES presented each nation’s reality with dances, songs, and video.

On July 18, Professor Stefano Zamagni, Economist and ordinary Professor of Political Economics at the University of Bologna and ex-president of the Agency for the third sector, spoke on the theme, “Volunteering among institutions – power, rights, and freedom”.  The central ideas were: 1) the three actual challenges are social inequality, the ecological problem, and peace; 2) to reduce inequality and to care for our common home, volunteering is important because it is a gift that re-awakens consciences and forms culture; 3) the good that volunteering does must be made known.
During these Convention days, sharing of good practices was also done by some Vides groups: United States, Brazil with Argentina, Japan, Congo Brazzaville in collaboration with Vides- Poland.

In the afternoon of the last day, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, Superior General of the FMA Institute, gave her concluding message.  She emphasized that “Vides witnesses that synergy, solidarity, and fraternity among diverse cultures are possible; there is much hope in VIDES that is a prophetic sign; the vocation of VIDES is to be a light that radiates joy and hope”.
Also present were Sr. Runita Borja, General Councillor for Youth Pastoral; Sr. Phyllis Neves and Sr. Assunta Inoue, Visiting Councillors.

The concluding Mass was celebrated by the Salesian Rector Major, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime.  In his homily, he manifested his joy and gratitude for the good that VIDES is doing in various contexts through the education of the young.

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