Not a Roof but a Building Site

Not a Roof but a Building Site

Rome (Italy). The CII Assembly (Italian Interprovincial Conference) took place at the FMA Provincial House in Rome from May 8-11.  Participating were 49 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and 16 lay persons from the whole of Italy.

"Not a roof but a building site" was the slogan that guided the reflections and group discussions on the theme of the social dimension of the pastoral educational commitment with the finality of individuating possible program choices for Italy for the 2014-2015 year.

The objectives of the day were:  re-read and interpret for out times, the social dimension present in the educational effort of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello; individuate ways to accompany the young to assume their own responsibilities as active citizens, able to insert themselves in a positive way in the family, in society, and in the work world.

The Assembly was opened with greetings from the Vicar General, Sr. Emilia Musatti, who invited the participants to “Take small steps, small actions in order to give birth to the processes that guide the young to assume their social responsibility.  As educators, we work in littleness, but in prospects greater than society, and in the horizon of the Gospel.  Sr. Anna Razionale, President of CII, after recalling Fr. Riccardo Tonelli, repeated the concept that “social charity and incarnation imply putting ourselves and the community on the line, aware that living deeply what is human and entering into the heart of challenges, betters the Christian and renders the city fruitful.”

The Assembly work began with a sharing of meanings.  What is meant by the ‘social dimension’?  The group discussions prepared the way for listening, reflection, and dialogue in the work that followed.
The day of the 9th was rich in content and provocations.  At the celebration of the morning Eucharist presided by Fr. Fabio Attard, General Councillor for Youth Pastoral, the participants were invited to grasp the truth of reality after the example of the Prophet Ananias, leaving aside all human reasoning and logic in order to listen to God who guides us to go beyond the reasonableness of events, and can indicate new roads of hope.  Attention to the social dimension of educational action cannot omit the involvement of the first recipients of our mission – the young.

Along these lines, Marco Pappalardo, Salesian Cooperator, coordinated the round table on the theme, “The Young Question Us”.  Formation, even of young adults, the need of accompaniment, and the witness of evangelical radicalism are the elements that emerged.  Marco Pappalardo affirmed that “there are three fundamental areas that as Salesian Family, we must concentrate on together, both theoretically and practically, and without dispersions.  The first is formation on the themes of sexuality and affectivity.  The other is social networks as real, not virtual, places to inhabit and give them meaning.  Lastly, there is social-political formation.  The basic and transversal element is the concrete accompaniment of the young; to be present with them in the service experience we propose to them.”

“The Social Dimension in Educational Journeys” in light of the Church’s social Magisterium, was the theme presented by Professor Stefano Zamagni.  He affirmed that “To educate is to take by the hand, to be there.  We cannot educate from afar!  To educate means to comfort, to infuse security, to encourage.  To educate means to accompany on the journey of life that leads to interior things.  The real problem today is not unemployment, but rather precariousness.  We are living three things that are greatly precarious:  the precariousness of work relationships, the precariousness of interpersonal relationships, and the precariousness of the meaning of politics.  The social dimension of education is battling against precariousness!
The challenge consists in educating to reciprocity.  It means giving without losing and taking without removing.  This is why everyone is enriched.  In reciprocity, everyone gives according to their possibilities.”

Sr. Grazia Loparco, FMA, dealt with the theme of “the social dimension in the work of evangelization of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello in today’s reality”.  Sr. Grazia affirmed, “Don Bosco preferred efforts alongside persons rather than idea battles, coining his specific support for the Catholic Movement.  Thus, he gave responses to concrete problems, without discussing their remote causes at higher levels of study.  He pragmatically sought many collaborators to face needs of enormous consequence with focused strategies and without improvisation.” 

The day concluded with the Good Night of Mother Yvonne Reungoat who, in synergy with the Assembly theme, said, “To be incisive, we need to build a very broad alliance among those who take care of the young.  These are challenges we cannot close our eyes to!”  In referring to precariousness, Mother reminded us that there was nothing more precarious than the dream at nine years of age!  Don Bosco began everything in precariousness, and alone.  Mother continued, “Sometimes we feel weak, with so much to do…and yet we are still many, and we can be even more.  We must have the courage of dreaming today!  Educational areas can have something of the prophetic, which is not limited to recreating something of the origins.  We must have a climate of hope that makes us believe that a future is open and waiting for us”. At the conclusion of the assembly, Sr. Emilia Musatti affirmed, “Networking is the journey for the future, making the human and Salesian identity visible.”

On the afternoon of the 10th, those present had the possibility of participating in the national manifestation of ‘The Church for the School’, with Pope Francis.  “It was a very good encounter, a feast characterized by being ‘for’ and not ‘against’,” as Pope Francis affirmed to the 300,000 young people, teachers, parents, and administrative personnel of many school realities from all over Italy.  Everyone was struck by Pope Francis’ message.  “I love the school because it is synonymous with openness to reality.  At least, this is how it should be!  However, it does not always succeed in being so and this means that its approach needs to be changed to some degree. Going to school means opening minds and hearts to reality, in the richness of its aspects, and of its dimensions.  We have no right to be afraid of reality.  The school teaches us to understand reality.”

The CII Assembly was an experience shared on the web through:
The videos can be found on the YouTube page of FMA Italy

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